Oh No She Didn't!
07-06-2009
This past weekend continued the NH Political Capital tradition of having my holiday/vacation absences from the website coincide nicely with major breaking political news.  Maybe it’s just bad luck, or perhaps those making the news are engaging in the well-known technique of breaking it when most people are otherwise occupied.  Judging by the high volume of weekend traffic to my website, my guess is that a lot of you stopped by for a little feedback on the Sarah Palin shocker. While I never expected Palin to run for reelection in 2010, like most political observers (actually all) I was surprised to learn that she was resigning her governorship after only two and a half years in office.
 
As those of you who read my postings with some regularity know, I have not been a big fan of Sarah Palin. This is not a personal ideological judgment on my part. It is based on the many years I have spent watching numerous hopefuls arrive on the national political scene. Given what I saw from Palin during the general election last fall and over the subsequent eight months, I think she lacks several of the key components of national political leadership, ingredients like issue knowledge, political judgment and sustained focus. There are a number of other Republicans who are better positioned (and qualified) to lead the party forward over the next few election cycles.
 
I know some Republicans are arguing that Palin will now have the time to bone up on her knowledge of the major foreign and domestic policy issues of the day. But I have seen nothing in her personal constitution to suggest that she has any interest in that sort of self-improvement. In this respect, she is very much like George W. Bush. She trusts her own gut-level instincts to operate from a core set of values or principles, and seems to have little interest in reaching for any knowledge or understanding beyond that. While some people find that to be an appealing style of leadership, my guess is that after eight years of President Bush, most voters find it less so.
 
Then what can Sarah Palin do now? She can use her undeniable celebrity to make a lot of money talking to the social and religious conservatives who already love her. And, she would be an effective draw and fundraiser for candidates who derive their electoral strength from the same group of constituents. This alone is enough to make her a serious player in Republican Party politics. But that is very different from saying that she is anywhere near having the ability to assemble a winning electoral coalition at the presidential level. Palin's negatives are way too high for that, and if she is aware of this circumstance, she has yet to show any interest in, or understanding of, how to move beyond it to true national leadership. Given what I’ve already seen, my bet is she won’t.


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