I was down in the Lot Valley (southern France) the past few days, so lagging behind--as this blog often does--the 24 hour news cycle. But I have been amused by the frenzied attempts by commentators to "analyze" Sarah Palin's announced resignation as governor of Alaska: Is it an inspired strategic coup designed to prepare her candidacy for president in 2012, or just another example of her erratic and incompetent behavior?
The New York Times' Sam Tanenhaus took a crack at it a few days ago, and I can't help but laugh at this excerpt from his News Analysis:
Still, Ms. Palin was a galvanizing force and continues to outdo all other Republicans in exciting the party’s base. On Friday, it was even possible to see how her decision to exit the governorship could actually strengthen her populist, anti-government theme — and place her in the tradition of previous conservative leaders who have presented themselves not merely as professional politicians but as leaders of a movement.
I'm not laughing at Sam, mind you, because this graf does indeed reflect current wisdom. But let's reflect on it further. "Exciting the party's base" might sound like a real plus for a presidential candidate, and once it became clear how unqualified Palin was to be either vice-president or president this became the the fall back talking point for McCain campaign flaks who immediately realized what a huge mistake they had made. But when all of the other news analysis is telling us how much the party's base has shrunk, getting what remains "excited" conjures up images of yapping dogs getting excited over being tossed chunks of meant. Not a nice image.
Then there is the notion, as Tanenhaus puts it, that resigning as governor of Alaska strengthens Palin's "anti-government theme"--which sounds like wisdom until you realize that Palin is supposedly going for the biggest government job of all, the presidency. If she really wants to strike an anti-government pose, she should refuse to run for president, hole up in a cabin in the woods with a rifle and cans of beans, and shoot the hats off of any federal agents who approach the area.
But really, I wish Sarah well, and hope with all my heart that she grabs the Republican nomination in 2012. That, after all, is our best guarantee that Barack Obama will have a second term.
Wheeling and dealing on health care. A story in Wednesday's New York Times has got to make anyone who seriously cares about health care reform (ie, reform that actually helps the people) sick to their stomach. Basically, the Obama administration is getting the industry players on board (health insurance companies, hospitals, doctors) by promising them things they have long wanted--things that will undermine the reforms and the possibility of a public plan. The Clinton administration's big mistake back in the 1990s was thinking that it could really play ball with the health care industry, and then the industry took the ball and went home. They are still holding it. If the industry isn't screaming, the plan isn't good enough. Hard but true.