Congratulations to President-Elect Obama. Now all you have to do is deliver on everything you've promised, and quite frankly you have as much chance to do so as your average department store Santa does to get everything under the trees of the kids they meet each year. It does not escape my notice that Barack Obama is the first man of African extraction to become the President. This is a big deal, but whether it changes much of anything with regard to race relations I don't really know. If GOP people opposing his agriculture plan, for instance, get the Race CardTM deployed against them, little will have been accomplished.
Giving Her The Finger...Or At Least Pointing It
The recriminations are now beginning to boil out of the McCain camp, with a number of fingers pointed at Sarah Palin. Here's just a sample, according to Carl Cameron of Fox News Channel these kinds of things will be coming out for days.
Hey, why take blame when you can pass it on to others? The McCain campaign, unable to craft an economic message until an unlicensed plumber talked to Barack Obama in front of a rope line, figures it must all the Caribou Barbie's fault. For the record I tend to doubt she thought 'Africa' was one country.
The good thing for Sarah is that she has her day job, and can go back to Alaska where her popularity is only slightly dimmed (from 80%) and the Personnel Board has cleared her of any wrongdoing. She might have to fight the legislature over the Branchflower report, but chances are pretty good that they won't go after her. For one thing, it will look petty. For another, she's no threat to Obama and got her ears boxed on the national stage in a way that the Alaska Legislature couldn't dream of pulling off.
The shame of all this nasty talk is that it's just the standard pettiness that comes from losing an election, and in this case it's likely a bunch of insiders sticking knives into Palin and hoping for jobs in the next election cycle -- which starts a whole 100 weeks from now or so. Less, if you can wangle a staff job with a PAC. The maneuvering for 2012 at this point is pretty unseemly. David Frum, no Palin fan, blames Nicole Wallace, a former Bush staffer who worked for the McCain campaign. The kinds of things that are coming out are petty and catty, like she answered the door to her suite in a bathrobe. You mean, she didn't let the staffers stand in the hall? Goodness, how inappropriate...or something? Sounds like the kind of thing someone used to taking care of her own business would do, that's the mark of a humble person, not an arrogant one.
It's a shame the McCain campaign people weren't as effective at real politics as they seem to be at office politics. Could have made a difference.
Ted Stevens, Alaska's senior Senator (and newest felon!) might win his re-election bid after being convicted of perjury for failing to report $250,000 in home improvements an oil services company performed for him. If elected, he will most likely face censure and expulsion from the Senate, if not jail time, so he will not be serving. Alaska law requires a short-interval election within 90 days, so someone will be replacing him and will run against (most likely) Mark Begich.
Sarah could run, but it would be a bad idea. First, it looks like naked political ambition. She was elected governor, she should serve out her term. Second, if she wants to run as a Senator, Lisa Murkowski is up for reelection in 2010. I have nothing personal against Lisa Murkowski, but with the name there's probably a body or two buried somewhere and if she has ethical issues Sarah has the opportunity to run. Waiting is better. If she gets to appoint someone, I imagine she will appoint Sean Parnell, the Lt. Governor who she supported in the primary against Don Young.
Finally, being a Senator probably wouldn't add much to her resume. It would destroy her "Washington Outsider" credentials, which are probably going to be really useful because the Reid/Pelosi/Obama group have challenges before them their ideological bent does not prepare them for (war, recession, crushing debt) and their chances of screwing something up badly are very high. She will benefit from staying out of the blast radius of the debacle as much as Barack Obama did from being a state Senator during the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force vote before the Iraq War.
For someone who was such a punching bag for Saturday Night Live, the real Sarah Palin seemed to really make an impact on at least three people: Lorne Michaels, Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. None of these folks would you expect to be political allies, and none of them are. But they have an interesting perspective, politics has been described as "Hollywood for ugly people", there is a certain similarity in what they do. Performers in Hollywood know they are at the apex of a very high and steep pyramid where only the best get where they are, and then with more than a little luck. When the guy that launched the careers of Bill Murray, John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers and Chris Farley, among many others says:
What do you think Palin gained from her appearance?
I think Palin will continue to be underestimated for a while. I watched the way she connected with people, and she's powerful. Her politics aren't my politics. But you can see that she's a very powerful, very disciplined, incredibly gracious woman. This was her first time out and she's had a huge impact. People connect to her.
She's a ratings magnet, too — do you think she can land a development deal if this VP thing doesn't work out?
She could pretty much do better than development. I think she could have her own show, yeah.
Lest you miss it, "I think she could have her own show" is a bit of a compliment. Maybe it's a way to get her out of politics and into something where Lorne feels she could do less damage, but either way it's a compliment.
Even Alec "I'm going to move to France" Baldwin is fairly circumspect in his criticism of her during his appearance on Letterman:
Same for Tina Fey on Conan O'Brien.
Obviously, it's easier to be nasty when you're being anonymous and not-for-attribution to Carl Cameron behind the campaign bus, and harder to do it when you're on-camera with Conan or Dave. Nevertheless, there is some acknowledgment from people pretty close to the top of their game in working in front of cameras that Sarah Palin has...something.
What she does have, and more importantly can communicate very well, is a general happiness about her life as an American. Of all the gifts that Reagan had, this was his most potent. Nothing draws people like happiness and love, and Sarah Palin is at her best when she communicates these things. If she can add an uncrackable knowledge base to that, she'll be a fierce competitor in the next election cycle. Contrary to popular belief and MSM assumption, conservatives really are happy. It's kind of our little secret, but when someone like Sarah Palin can get onstage in front of 40 million people and be conservative and happy at the same time, well that snaps the needle off the approval meter for conservatives. If being an Angry Conservative was enough, Pat Buchanan would have been GOP nominee for life.
Then again, after this turn as the punching bag, she might decide to just raise her kids, stay in Alaska and remember that couple of months when she was the first female GOP nominee for Vice-President. It would be our loss, I believe, but I think she's earned some peace and quiet.