Monday, July 06, 2009

Oh Sarah Barracuda, we hardly knew ye

I must admit to a profound ambivalence about Sarah Palin’s surprising retirement last Friday, though it proceeds at least in part from entirely selfish reasons—namely, I’ll miss having her around on the national stage as an object of ridicule. That being said, perhaps it’s all for the best … she did, after all, make it a little too easy.

In all seriousness however, I am genuinely ambivalent, because on one hand I’m relieved that the Palin saga, surely one of the most discouraging in recent history for anyone desiring high-minded political discourse, finally looks to be ending. On the other hand, her departure removes a singular embodiment of intellectually bankrupt nativist conservatism that would, I think, have ultimately hamstrung the Republicans for years to come and finally mobilized thinking conservatives to reimagine the Republican brand—the first eventuality benefiting liberal-left politics in the States, the latter benefiting the country overall. I have to believe that this will happen anyway, but Palin made for a useful galvanizing figure on this front.

Of course, her abrupt departure has fuelled all sorts of speculation about what she’s up to. I think we can safely say that this isn’t the first step in setting up a 2012 run for the presidency, for the simple reason that William Kristol claims that it is. Given that pretty much everything Kristol has claimed, declared and predicted over the last seven years has been not just wrong but exactly wrong, I think we can safely say any remaining presidential aspirations on Palin’s part are a non-starter.

(As an aside: never mind Kristol’s consistent wrongness on everything from Iraq to the 2008 presidential campaign, his bafflingly stubborn cheerleading of Palin even to the present moment dictates that he has to surrender the moniker “prominent conservative intellectual.” Being wrong is forgivable, but why would someone ostensibly valuing intellect and intelligence so consistently champion someone epitomizing the opposite of that? To quote Milan Kundera, he’s acting as the brilliant ally of his own gravediggers).

So we all now wait for the other shoe to drop. I’m putting my money on an ethics scandal—the good word seems to be that this investigation into the awarding of contracts in exchange for favours (specifically, the building of her house) is going to blow up into something big, and she’s getting out to get ahead of the story. Or perhaps she’ll get a talk show. Either way, I suspect she won't be out of the public eye much, so my ambivalence about her departure is probably premature.


Andrew said...

my favourite reaction, and biggest lol of the week, is this on wonkette -

which refers to her as "a snowbilly grifter" bahahaha.

Lesley said...

What bugs me about the whole "Palin" thing is that she honestly believed that she had a shot at anything. I almost feel sorry for her for what the Republican party did to her by using her as a token to get McCain elected finally. However, considering her own ego and how it managed to get into most of the mess she's in, I think she deserves whatever she gets. The whole thing is an embarassment to women who actually have the ability to exact change and effectiveness in politics. And yes, I realize that effectiveness in politics is laughable in itself some times...