It’s ironic that Joshua Green’s article The Tragedy of Sarah Palin came out just a few short days after the capture and killing of the 9/11 mastermind, Osama Bin Laden. While it is not obvious at first sight, the similarities between the 9/11 tragedies vs the American people and Sarah Palin vs the 2008 election, are quite mind boggling.
Green begins his post on how great Governor Palin was and how well she governed. He then goes off rambling in multiple posts on how Palin changed and became this manipulating extremist, vengeance-seeker, thin skined cry baby. Of course most of Greens’ sources are those who went out to destroy her and uses the book by Palin deranged ethicly challenged Frank Baily who Green fails to point out was produced by a bunch of Palin haters who used him to go after Palin.
In this post, I won’t go into Green’s entire article. This has already been well covered by others, here, here, here, and here. In this post, I’ll focus on this paragraph:
What if history had written a different ending? What if she had tried to do for the nation what she did for Alaska? The possibility is tantalizing and not hard to imagine. The week after the Republican convention, Lehman Brothers collapsed, and the whole economy suddenly seemed poised to go down with it. Palin might have been the torchbearer of reform, a role that would have come naturally. Everything about her—the aggressiveness, the gift for articulating resentments, her record and even her old allies in Alaska—would once more have been channeled against a foe worth pursuing. Palin, not Obama, might ultimately have come to represent “Change We Can Believe In.” What had he done that could possibly compare with how she had faced down special interests in Alaska?
And this one from John Podhoretz in commentary:
Palin came almost immediately to inhabit a different role in the American body politic—not the “maverick” she was chosen to be by the self-proclaimed maverick McCain, but rather as a populist villain-victim (depending on which side you were on). The fault here lay not with her attackers but within her. She embarrassed herself in two interviews, and decided the blame lay not with her own ill-preparedness but with the media that had come after her. Understandably enraged by the misogynistic and practically psychotic attacks on her, she came to embrace her status as a kind of martyr for the social-conservative views that had not been the truly distinguishing features of her meteoric political career up to that moment
First of all, both Green and Podhoretz (and of course Jennifer Rubin who couldn’t resist taking another shot at Palin) make it sound as if Palin just woke up one morning and changed. As if the media had nothing to do with it. They make it appear that the attacks were just minor issues that every politician has to go through. In her convention speech that Green uses as the point of her change, Governor Palin noted that she learnt this week what the media can do. Palin was on the stage for less than 5 minutes and already her motherhood, kids, family and record were attacked. 150 lawyers were sent to Alaska just to dig dirt and when they couldn’t find anything, they just made things up.
So what did happen? To understand this, we need to put it in context with something everyone can digest: The September 11 2001 terrorist attacks.
September 10 2001.
Americans in general were happy. We had just came off a heavily contested election and the peaceful transition of power took place. A new president was in office, democrats and republicans came together to put their differences behind them and passed major legislation. Massive tax cuts and no child left behind passed in bi-partisan votes. The economy was recovering, there were no wars and in the eyes of most, the fear of terrorism was practically nil.
President Bush’s agenda was largely focused on domestic issues. In fact in 2000, Bush ran as a isolationist and stuck mostly to domestic issues as foreign policy was not on Bush’s short list of priorities.
Travel was pretty simple. Travellers headed for the airport, checked in, and boarded the plane. Shoes didn’t have to be taken off, full body scans didn’t exist, and cosmetics and bottle water were allowed on board. Video of that morning show President Bush jogging and in general Americans were happy and in good nature.
Then came Bin Laden and changed America for ever. With a mega terrorist attack everything changed: the course of America, the course of a nation and the course of a presidency. In a short few hours, 3000 people died and thousands upon thousands of peoples’ lives were destroyed. America came together, but hate and resentment slowly began to kick in against the group who was behind it and the leader who ran it: Al Qaeda and Bin Laden.
Since that horrific day, pretty much everything that happened in America was put into context with those attacks. 9/11 and terrorism became the ultimate excuse for pretty much everything.
August 28 2008
Sarah Palin had just come away from the birth of a special needs child, the family came together to face the challnges such a child would bring. Governor Palin had just passed bi-partisan massive legislation, she took on big oil and beat the establishment. With approval ratings in the high eighties, her future looked bright and her career prospects promising. On the day McCain called her to ask her to join the ticket she was out and about at the state fair.
Then came August 29. With one word her entire life changed: Yes! By saying yes to John McCain, Governor Palin had hoped she would be able to bring to the entire nation the success she delivered in Alaska.
From the moment she set foot on the national stage, there was a coordinated attempt by the media and the left to destroy her. As Yuval Levin writes:
Her views on matters of cultural and social controversy very quickly became the chief focus of media attention, liberal criticism, and pundit analysis. Palin was assigned every view and position the Left considered unenlightened, and the response to her brought into the light all manner of implicit liberal assumptions about cultural conservatives. We were told that Palin was opposed to contraception, advocated teaching creationism in schools, and was inclined to ban books she disagreed with. She was described as a religious zealot, an anti-abortion extremist, a blind champion of abstinence-only sex education. She was said to have sought to make rape victims pay for their own medical exams, to have Alaska secede from the Union, and to get Pat Buchanan elected President. She was reported to believe that the Iraq war was mandated by God, that the end-times prophesied in the Book of Revelation were nearing and only Alaska would survive, and that global warming was purely a myth. None of this was true.
Her personal life came under withering assault as well. Palin’s capacity to function as a senior elected official while raising five children was repeatedly questioned by liberal pundits who would never dare to express such views about a female candidate whose opinions were more congenial to them. Her teenage daughter’s pregnancy was splattered all over the front pages (garnering three New York Times stories in a single day on September 2). Some bloggers even suggested her youngest child had not issued from her, but from her daughter instead, and that she had participated in a bizarre cover-up. I attended a gathering in Washington at which a prominent columnist wondered aloud how Palin could pursue her career when her religious beliefs denied women the right to work outside the home.
Palin became the embodiment of every dark fantasy the Left had ever held about the views of evangelical Christians and women who do not associate themselves with contemporary feminism, and all concern for clarity and truthfulness was left at the door.
WHAT HAPPENED TO Sarah Palin? How did someone who so effectively dealt with the two great issues vexing Alaska fall from grace so quickly? Anyone looking back at her record can’t help but wonder: How did a popular, reformist governor beloved by Democrats come to embody right-wing resentment?
It’s the media terrorist attacks that happened. Led by no other than Barack Obama and his media allies. That is what happened. I would ask Green. What did you expect would happen? When you take a successful women, mother and who Green admits was a pragmatic Governor and go out of your way to destroy her, it changes a person. No matter how thick someone’s skin is, if you beat it long enough it cracks.
When your trusted advisors and friends stab you in the back simply to make a quick buck, why would you trust anyone again in the future? Sure resentment sinks in as it’s human nature. I would ask anyone who questions Governor Palin’s "resentment" how you would handle it if your life had been turned upside down by people who were downright out to destroy you and your family?
While everything changed after the 9/11 attacks, it was just a one-day event. The attacks were atrocious but the actual attacks only lasted a couple of hours. The aftermath was terrible but the healing began the next day. On the other hand, the attacks on Governor Palin never ended. It is still ongoing. Even when the candidate the media wanted to elect won, they were not satisfied and will not be until Governor Palin is completely destroyed. The 2008 campaign is still going on to this day. Books are still being written, movies are being made, and every little mistake Governor Palin made during the campaign is still used against her and the punches keep coming. Is it a wonder that Palin changed? We need go no further than Green’s article itself as he uses the 2008 campaign to hammer her. And the recent release of her emails are also a result of an FOIA from back in the campaign.
Green wonders how Palin would Govern would she ever reach the White House:
The discrepancy between her record and her image make it nearly impossible to predict what Palin would do in national office.
Actually it’s not impossible to predict, it’s quite simple. A President Palin would govern in the same way Governor Palin did.
While Osama Bin Laden didn’t actually carry out the 9/11 attacks himself, it is Bin Laden who is held responsible for them because it is he who led the organization that carried out the attacks and it is he who led the charge. For Governor Palin, the 2008 campaign is her personal 9/11. And while Barack Obama didn’t personally carry out the attacks on Palin, it is he, willingly or unwillingly, who is leading the charge. In Governor Palin’s mind, Barack Obama is her Bin Laden. Palin’s conflict with Obama goes much deeper than just policy differences, it’s personal in the same way the victims of the 9/11 attacks felt a personal conflict with Bin Laden.
Of course I’m not suggesting that Barack Obama is a terrorist like Bin Laden. Far from it. I disagree with Obama on pretty much everything but I wouldn’t accuse him of being capable of murder, a benefit Obama and team did not apply to Governor Palin when she was accused of a murder she had nothing to do with.
When Osama Bin Laden was killed, many were wondering why Americans were celebrating. Why the excitement? why the emotion? In reality, nothing really changed. America will still be fighting terrorism, we’re still at war. The economy is still in shambles, oil prices are sky rocketing, and and the debt is still climbing. So what are we celebrating?
In one word: Closure.
Friends and relatives of those who died felt a sigh of relief. They had their revenge. True, their loved ones didn’t come back. But for all the hurt and suffering, the source of that suffering has now been taken out. People are now willing and ready to move on.
From the moment Palin joined the ticket, the campaign shifted from Obama vs. McCain to Obama vs. Palin. Palin was now considered the main target even though she wasn’t the one running the show. It was not her campaign so the campaign wasn’t a fair game. While the Obama campaign went one on one against Palin, Palin never got that chance to go one on one with Obama. All the punches from within the ring went her way and yet she never got to get into the ring.
When the election ended, it ended with Obama beating McCain and as a result Governor Palin never got to end her one on one fight with Obama. For better or for worse, Governor Palin to this day doesn’t know how her one on one against Obama would have ended. And while people insist Governor Palin move on from the 2008 campaign, as we noted above, the 2008 campaign has never ended and it is still ongoing. Governor Palin needs the closure of knowing who wins and who loses in that battle.
If Governor Palin runs for president in 2012, she’ll be entering the ring, it will be her fight. Whether Palin wins or loses, she’ll have won and lost it on her grounds. For Palin to be Palin, whether it’s her or some other republican beating Obama, Governor Palin will breath a sigh of relief. Governor Palin needs closure and two things need to happen: A) She needs to finish the fight that began in 2008; B) Obama needs to be defeated. When that happens, Sarah Palin will have closure and will be Sarah Palin once again. If she ultimately defeats Obama, President Palin will mirror the pre-campaign Governor Palin Green well describes.
For Governor Palin and her supporters, the 2012 race will be more than just wining an election; it’ll be closure.