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Tragic Hero?
May 14, 2011 1:27 AM   Subscribe

As governor, Palin demonstrated many of the qualities we expect in our best leaders. She set aside private concerns for the greater good, forgoing a focus on social issues to confront the great problem plaguing Alaska, its corrupt oil-and-gas politics. She did this in a way that seems wildly out of character today—by cooperating with Democrats and moderate Republicans to raise taxes on Big Business. And she succeeded to a remarkable extent in settling, at least for a time, what had seemed insoluble problems, in the process putting Alaska on a trajectory to financial well-being. Since 2008, Sarah Palin has influenced her party, and the tenor of its politics, perhaps more than any other Republican, but in a way that is almost the antithesis of what she did in Alaska. Had she stayed true to her record, she might have pointed her party in a very different direction.
posted by -->NMN.80.418 (79 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Palin has gained a reputation for being erratic, undisciplined, not up to the job. But that wasn’t how she looked as governor.

That's discounting, of course, the small bit about her resigning office. Aside from that little nit, she wasn't erratic or not up to the job at all. Right?

I'm guessing here that this article is why I've never read Atlantic monthly . It appears to have been written by Romney's time traveling kids?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:55 AM on May 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Byline: by Joshua Green. "Green began his journalism career in 1995 as an editor at the satirical weekly The Onion."

U HAZ BEEN TROLLED
posted by orthogonality at 2:09 AM on May 14, 2011 [15 favorites]


I have a feeling this article will be something like the 'articles' presented in this essay on motivated reasoning. Which is to say, despite this being an article that is specifically written so as to cross filter paths, it still will fall to people's cognitive bias.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 2:12 AM on May 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


I didn't read the article and I'm not going to. (no offense.) Whatever Palin did or didn't do in Alaska, her record since becoming a national politician speaks for itself. She isn't known for any serious position on policy, yet she attacks from the sidelines whatever proposals officials provide (if they are Democratic, that is) and engages in divisive identity politics and broad-brush attacks in snarling tones, appealing to the terrified conspiracy theorist in all of us. In my view she's nothing but a demagogue, a knee-jerk conservative icon, and a spokesperson for false or misleading rightist propoganda. If you group national politicians into good and bad (erasing Lib/Con, R/D) it's fairly uncontroversial that she falls into the bad category. If you want to call that cognitive bias - fair enough! Hasn't she had plenty of chances to build a better image for herself?
posted by friendlymilkman at 2:54 AM on May 14, 2011 [18 favorites]


I'm guessing here that this article is why I've never read Atlantic monthly

It was better, but a neocon bought it and moved it to D.C. in 2005. He has a vested interest in making Palin sound like a reasonable choice.
posted by pracowity at 2:57 AM on May 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Here's a high school baseball player, a pitcher, been to a couple of professional baseball games in Kansas City, which was the only time he ever left his small town. He was a success in his life, in his town, he fit right in, he knew who everyone is and they knew him.

Out of the blue, he gets a call, he didn't even know who he was talking to, really, but he got this call and he took the call and was offered huge pie in the sky, huge, the biggest pie there is. And this kid, hey, he likes pie, and -- blink your eyes -- damned if he wasn't brought up to the Yankees to pitch in the playoffs and world series.

Totally out of his element, it is of course a disaster from the start, and it couldn't be otherwise; this kid has never even read a newspaper, other than his high school paper and the little neighborhood paper that talks about bake sales, and now he's on the front page of every damn one, and looking like a big dope.

The whole thing is a complete disservice to him -- I'd guess that most high school baseball players just have to dream of playing in Yankee stadium, they're kept out of it because they don't have the skillset, also because Yankee management doesn't like to lose -- and it's a disservice to the rest of the team, to Yankee fans, to baseball in general.

To anyone on the outside of baseball, it makes the entire professional sport scene in the US look as ridiculous as it actually mostly is. You've got to know that there's been lots of eye-rollings 'round the world, lots of people looking other people in the eye and tapping their heads when they read and then talk about the whole thing...

*****

I've been promoted into positions that I was not at all equipped for, positions in which I had no experience nor natural talent nor even inclination for but which I wanted, for any number of reasons -- the money, of course, and the challenge in it, the wantirng to please whoever it was that was fool enough to offer me the gig. Some I've made a go of, mostly it's not worked out well.

She's a highly functioning person, really determined -- it's easy to lose sight of that as we make fun of her stupidities, her bumbling about -- she's really holding on as she learns the ropes. She's such a loose cannon, I can't see her running for the presidency -- she'll get more polished, she's getting more polished every hour but never she'll never get polished enough to get past her past foolishnesses -- but I'd bet that we're going to hear from her and about her from now on.

Maybe the Peter Principle can be renamed the Palin Principle?
posted by dancestoblue at 3:14 AM on May 14, 2011 [16 favorites]


So she's always attacked, and always done so with the tools that are closest to her. That doesn't entirely surprise me.

She's a pitbull who excessively personalises politics and doesn't grasp issues in a complex way. That was useful when breaking up a corrupt Alaskan government, but definitely isn't the personality type one needs for a national executive role. Bush III isn't tempting.
posted by jaduncan at 3:16 AM on May 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think we'd be lucky if Palin were merely a Bush III. At least W pretended to be a "compassionate conservative" and pretended to be President of the whole country. Palin deliberately singles out "real Americans" to be President of and demonizes everyone else.
posted by DU at 3:34 AM on May 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


oh, please let palin get the 2012 nomination, please please please....
posted by kaibutsu at 3:56 AM on May 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


In a just world we'd all be taking a look at Abe Vigoda. He's got experience, he's ready to lead.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:00 AM on May 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


In a just world we'd all be taking a look at Abe Vigoda. He's got experience, he's ready to lead.

Isn't he dead?
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:16 AM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nah, pretty sure that's Bela Lugosi you're thinking about

and he's not even eligible!
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 4:45 AM on May 14, 2011


In a just world we'd all be taking a look at Abe Vigoda. He's got experience, he's ready to lead.

Isn't he dead?


Perish the thought!
posted by waitingtoderail at 4:49 AM on May 14, 2011


Isn't he dead?

No, he just looks that way.
posted by cropshy at 4:52 AM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Palin is like John McCain: Despite a series of carefully-crafted images, under the mask there's no maverick or ideologue, just somebody who will say or do anything to get money and power.

Palin is like George W. Bush: It's legitimately hard to tell whether she's crazy or stupid, and I'm not sure which one would be worse.
posted by box at 5:06 AM on May 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


The whole thing with Sarah Palin just seems to scream big fish in a small pond. She may have been great at local and small (population-wise) state politics, but she seems to do nothing but fall back on party talking points for anything bigger, and she seems painfully unaware of this fact. The fact she's probably angling for the presidency to some degree is downright scary.

I don't usually accuse people of being irrational, but I almost wonder if her fans just like her out of spite for liberals who were scared of a Palin presidency if McCain won and passed away.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:07 AM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin

Couldn't find a picture of Michael Chiklis as Joe the Plumber.
posted by Trurl at 5:19 AM on May 14, 2011


It's a good insightful article, go RTFA. The point is she worked across party lines to raise taxes and balance budgets. She kept her focus on reform instead of social issues.

And then she went nutso social conservative on the campaign trail and drove away her moderate support which helped lead to her resignation.

The current Governor is trying to take the oil tax back down.

That's discounting, of course, the small bit about her resigning office. Aside from that little nit, she wasn't erratic or not up to the job at all. Right?

RTFA, specifically addressed.

I would vote for her as gov in PA if she would ignore social issues, tax the frackers, and balance the budget without education cuts.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:50 AM on May 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


This FPP would be better with the on going debate between Sullivan and Green. Sullivan, to say the least, has been critical of Green's essay. Start here and here He does agree that it is a tragedy of a sort, comic-tragedy, that is. Here is another link Sullivan links to Green's responses.
posted by jadepearl at 5:54 AM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


FTFA: "Todd just told me you had spoken with him awhile back and reported that some law enforcement friends of yours claimed some dumbass lie about Track not being Todd’s son?"

She can end the speculation simply by releasing the birth certificate....

---------

That's discounting, of course, the small bit about her resigning office. Aside from that little nit, she wasn't erratic or not up to the job at all. Right?

RTFA, specifically addressed.

FTFA: "She says unwarranted ethics investigations are what prompted her to quit. "

So, she cut-and-ran when it looks like she was going to get caught.

Thanks for clearing that up...
posted by mikelieman at 6:19 AM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


While Green's findings may be interesting in a gossipy, "Behind the Music" sort of way - to me, they're utterly irrelevant. How Palin operated before McCain's people plucked her from her igloo with the Magical View of Russia does not, in any way, mitigate her behavior since. My opinion of her is based solely on what she's done and said since August of 2008, and there's nothing in this article that changes my opinion. Maybe I see a little more Rush Limbaugh in her - that they'll both say whatever sells, and maybe not really believe it themselves - but, again, that doesn't matter... She still says it.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 6:21 AM on May 14, 2011


As an Alaskan (and not young anymore, so I have some historical perspective on state history) I could paint a much more negative picture of Palin. I'm not going to write a long post about this, though.

For all the research that the author did for this article (and there are many factually-true bits in it), it overlooks many things, shows the author lacks the perspective of a native Alaskan, and appears to be an exercise in making the facts fit a romanticized narrative.
posted by D.C. at 6:25 AM on May 14, 2011 [11 favorites]


Far be it for me to break the trend of ignorant speculation in this thread, so I'm going to go ahead and defend the article without reading it.

What's interesting is that long before McCain had picked Palin as a running mate, Wonkett started writing about her after she beat the corrupt former republican governor in the republican primary. He was the guy who appointed his own daughter to the senate. They loved her. It was the story of the beauty queen who took on corrupt politicians and so on.

The reality is, she wasn't very partisan at all in her tenure as governor. She got along just fine with local democrats and actually did break up the corruption in her state. So from that light her transformation during the 2008 campaign was kind of weird.

That said, she wasn't perfectly ethical, especially in dealing with trouper Wooten and so on. The 2008 campaign revealed her to be pretty stupid and venial overall. And after the 2008 campaign local dems hated her and she took a combative and partisan tone with them.

I don't think the article is saying "she was OK as governor" but rather "She was OK as governor before the 2008 election". She resigned after that.
posted by delmoi at 6:42 AM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


FTFA: "She says unwarranted ethics investigations are what prompted her to quit... Most Alaskans seem to think she left to get rich. But she also had lost her political base. Republicans had never liked her, Democrats felt betrayed, and everyone believed she was now fixated on the presidency. Today, only about 33 percent of Alaskans hold a favorable view of her. She’s often referred to as “Sarah, Inc.”—just the latest powerful entity seeking to exploit Alaska.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:44 AM on May 14, 2011


While Green's findings may be interesting in a gossipy, "Behind the Music" sort of way - to me, they're utterly irrelevant. How Palin operated before McCain's people plucked her from her igloo with the Magical View of Russia does not, in any way, mitigate her behavior since.

The article does not excuse her actions since, it essentially laments that her personality made her unable to translate to the national stage or even Alaskan politics in general outside of the oil issue because she was so poisonous to everyone she crossed.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:46 AM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


It appears to have been written by Romney's time traveling kids?

not to derail, but those were Huckabee's time traveling kids (Warning: floating random auto-start talking Huckabee)
posted by kuppajava at 6:53 AM on May 14, 2011


Palin deliberately singles out "real Americans" to be President of and demonizes everyone else.

It's a mistake to assert that Bush did not do the same thing. He just didn't do it with quite Palin's level of determination and alacrity. She's taking the pages right out of Rove's playbook. Bush talked about us and them and "real Amurricans" all the time, whether directly or not, and he divided the nation into ideological camps that were still in place after he left office just for Palin to come along and exploit.
posted by blucevalo at 7:06 AM on May 14, 2011


This seems like a pretty fair article. furiousxgeorge's comments are apt.
posted by gjc at 7:06 AM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to not care about Sarah Palin and after she jumped the shark with her incredibly self-serving reaction to the Giffords shooting (only a a TV trope wil do to describe it as she is a made for TV product) she has become a political non-starter, but this has to be one of the most fascinating stories ever. It is the stuff of Greek myths.

At every juncture Palin has made the wrong move with a complete apparent belief in her own righteousness. Whenever answering a direct question she makes no attempt to tell the truth but only say what would score her points in that instant. It is like she was a robot created to personify Colbert's "thruthiness". When talking to local Alaska press about the birth of her young son Trig, she played up her bravery and toughness by talking about how her water broke in Texas but she and Todd wanted their baby born in Alaska, so she toughed it out on two long flights. To any one with any sense that scenario was inconsiderate to other travelers and flight crew at best and dangerous for her and her special needs, slightly premature baby at worst, but she had to stick to at least some versions of the story as it all started with a TV interview.

The whole accepting as VP candidate with the immediate sideshow of announcing her high school aged daughter was having a baby, finishing high school being home schooled with the planned marriage to her boyfriend after graduation was more than she should have put on the kid. And even more unbelievable is the newest twist, where Bristol, after her new plastic surgery has a reality show about her life as a plucky single mom trying to make it on her own in the big city living with platonic male friends. You could not make this stuff up.

I think the article does go easy on her but she is just too easy a target. Andrew Sullivan goes absolutely nuts going after her but I someone has to. Most media outlets have left her incredible lies unquestioned so they would not appear as bullies (she is so quick to play the victim). It would be a shame if she was allowed to stay as a viable political candidate with only her FOX NEWS bully pulpit and weekly fawning interviews with Greta Van Susteren.
Weird fact:As a child, Greta Van Susteren considered long time family friend Joe McCarthy, her 'Uncle Joe';
posted by readery at 7:29 AM on May 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


She also resigned because she wasn't exactly playing by the rules when she was governor and was starting to come under increasing scrutiny and hot water for it...


and given what we have seen of her I would not be too surprised that whatever success she had as govonor was because of experienced, career civil servants actually doing the hard work.
posted by edgeways at 7:50 AM on May 14, 2011


This is a pretty good article. "Tragedy" is, for once, aptly applied.
posted by klangklangston at 7:56 AM on May 14, 2011


What if we were to find out, someday, that Palin boinked the type of people who flatter and appeal to her ego.

I think if this is true, we'd be scratching our heads a little less.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:01 AM on May 14, 2011


One day I would like the sort of tragedy where I become a millionaire and millions listen to me. This is a tragedy for the American people, as she uses her position as a public figure to act as a demagogue. For Sarah Palin to be the meanest, trashiest, richest and mist powerful woman to emerge from her small-town high school isn't a tragedy; it was her life goal.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:29 AM on May 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


This causes me to realize that she became politically corrupted almost instantly, and quit her job as governor as a result, perhaps unable to reverse herself completely while in the same office.
posted by Brian B. at 8:35 AM on May 14, 2011


Maybe the Peter Principle can be renamed the Palin Principle?

That is an insult to all the decent, honest people who achieved their Maximum Level of Incompetence the hard way, by working their way up the system step by step.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:50 AM on May 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


This proves what I have been saying all along -- that my Sarah is a sleeper agent.
posted by joetrip at 9:07 AM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"One day I would like the sort of tragedy where I become a millionaire and millions listen to me. This is a tragedy for the American people, as she uses her position as a public figure to act as a demagogue. For Sarah Palin to be the meanest, trashiest, richest and mist powerful woman to emerge from her small-town high school isn't a tragedy; it was her life goal."

I would have thought the drama critic would catch the more precise "tragedy" instead of tub-thumping a bit about the vernacular.
posted by klangklangston at 9:51 AM on May 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


People quick to dismiss the article because "Palin is clearly crazy and awful NOW" seem to miss the point. I didn't read it as "she's a better person than you think!" so much as "WTF happened?!" and a political tragedy, and I found it quite interesting. Now she's so bad that you can't even write about how she got that way without being a supporter or something? Come on.
posted by freebird at 9:55 AM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would vote for her as gov in PA if she would ignore social issues, tax the frackers, and balance the budget without education cuts.

I would vote for Sarah Palin is she was someone else, too.
posted by birdherder at 9:58 AM on May 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would vote for Sarah Palin is she was someone else, too.

Again, RTFA. This is Palin's term in Alaska before her collapse in to personal squabbles and national fame.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:05 AM on May 14, 2011


This is not theater, Klang.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:13 AM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Palin quit being Governor so she could be Sarah Palin. I don't believe for a moment she wants to be President. She might run, and she might like the title, but do work? For less than she's making now? And have to produce results? That's for dumber people than her.
posted by Legomancer at 10:47 AM on May 14, 2011


I'll just copy-n-paste my comment from the Atlantic article:
I'm really kind of flabbergasted at this thing; Joshua, your wrists must be killing you after all that furious hand-waving. There is no "old Sarah"; she's always looked out for Number One, always been willing to throw old allies under the bus (starting with John Stein, her predecessor as Wasilla mayor and former political mentor), and always been unable or unwilling to face the long-term consequences of her acts.

Let's start with that so-called oil reform. Yes, it was better than the Murkowski deal (almost anything short of abolishing the tax completely would have been), but more importantly for Palin's purposes, it allowed her to send a bigger check to the people of Alaska, and that, of course, made her much, much more popular. (At least until prices fell, and dividends with them.) She's also responsible for picking the ex-oil lobbyist as her running mate, responsible for quitting barely more than halfway into her term and putting him in office, and responsible for the scandals which she left office in an attempt to get away from (not to mention the promise of a significantly more lucrative career as Fox commenter and after-dinner speaker).

And as far as the natural gas pipeline goes: It's a little disorienting to read that, on the one hand, it's necessary for Alaska's future once the North Slope oil runs out; on the other hand, it's (supposedly) not being built because natural gas prices are currently low; and yet, on the proverbial third hand, Alaska is running a budget surplus. Isn't that what states are supposed to do, make long-term investments in their infrastructure for the common good? In fact, Joe McGinniss wrote an article on how Palin's administration stood in the way of the pipeline (at http://www.portfolio.com/execu... and that is the real reason why Palin added McGinniss to her very long enemies list, rather than the bordering-on-slanderous accusation that he could see into her daughter's bedroom window from next door.

There is no tragedy, unless you want to count the number of former political allies and associates left in Palin's wake, all the way from John Stein to John McCain. There is no former reformer, only a shameless exploiter of people who would make Eve Harrington blush. Anyone who believes that she could have been a fearless corruption fighter for the McCain Administration, let alone that she's interested in running for a job that would entail a severe pay cut and renewed accountability, is just setting themselves up for the con.
Also, WRT dancestoblue's comment: yes, I've been overpromoted myself, but here's the thing about Palin: there's never been any particular indication that Palin has ever been good at governing. She was good at getting elected, yes, but when she became mayor of Wasilla, one of the first things that she did was hire a city manager (for a town of what was then about 3000) and encouraged "growth" by basically inviting developers to turn the Mat-Su Valley into one big strip mall, and left behind a massively-expensive sports complex that's quite a bit bigger than a town of that size needs (not to mention rumors that she diverted materials and personnel from the project to build her half-million-dollar home, something that she couldn't have afforded on her salary, which she explains away by making vague claims that "some friends of theirs" built it). That's your naive, earnest, aw-shucks small town baseball player.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:04 AM on May 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


If there's a takeaway, it's that Alaskan state politics is sufficiently idiosyncratic, like the politics of major American cities, that it has no bearing on federal politics. It doesn't matter how Green chooses to portray Palin's challenge to the old family fiefdoms governing the state, because he could do the same if she were a top-ranking Sim City player with the same conclusion.

In hindsight, Alaskan statehood was probably a bad idea.
posted by holgate at 11:04 AM on May 14, 2011


Again, RTFA.

The problem is that the article is biased - to put it mildly. Or, what Halloween Jack said.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:33 AM on May 14, 2011


I'm really kind of flabbergasted at this thing; Joshua, your wrists must be killing you after all that furious hand-waving. There is no "old Sarah"; she's always looked out for Number One.

The author agrees there was no new and old Sarah, you guys are letting your two minute hate get in the way of actually listening to what the author is saying. It's not a biased article. It described the negative and positive aspects of her term. The bias is in you if you refuse to accept someone you think is evil incarnate can't have some accomplishments even if they come from a flawed method.

The article points out the personal nature of her outrage:

When he (Murkowski) won, she was short-listed to serve the remainder of his Senate term, and even interviewed for the job. But it went to his daughter Lisa instead. (Palin acidly recounts the patronizing interview with the new governor in her memoir, Going Rogue.)

It points out that at that point in her career she was willing to throw anyone under the bus:

“We subsequently learned that she’ll throw anyone under a bus, but that wasn’t apparent at the time. It looked like real moral courage.”

It points out she carried the same flaws from Alaska on to the national stage:

To continue her rise, she needed to find another path. Palin alone imagined that she could. In this and other ways, she displayed all the traits that would become famous: the intense personalization of politics, the hyper-aggressive score-settling—and the dramatic public gesture, which came next.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:09 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge, you're still not quite getting it. You're accepting what Green lays down as unbiased, but let's look at his intro to the article: "But a look at what Palin did while in office in Alaska—the only record she has—shows a very different politician: one who worked with Democrats to tame Big Oil and solve the great problem at the heart of the state’s politics. That Sarah Palin might have set the nation on a different course. What went wrong?"

First of all, it's not the only record she has; she was mayor of Wasilla more than twice as long as she was governor, and many of the problems that she's become known for were on full display back then. (If you want to refresh your memory, you can check out some of the articles that David Talbot wrote for Salon during the '08 race.) But Green handwaves that away, just as he does the personality flaws that he mentions briefly and that you quote.

And your assertion that "The author agrees there was no new and old Sarah" is purely disingenuous; in order for there to be a genuine tragedy, the hero has to have had an elevated status from which to fall. The appeal that Green is making is that Palin was intrinsically a reformer by nature, at some point, and might have continued on that path, as opposed to "someone [I] think is evil incarnate [that] can't have some accomplishments even if they come from a flawed method". (Incidentally, nice straw men you've thrown in there, such as that I think that Palin is evil incarnate--that's setting the bar pretty high--or that I don't believe that someone can accomplished good things with a "flawed method"; I know all about Huey Long, thanks.) There is simply no indication that Palin would have been a reformer as vice-president, or that she would have had any particular interest in doing anything at all except display the same lackadaisical approach to her office that she did as governor (members of the state legislature had "Where's Sarah?" buttons made up).

You can go on about "two minute hate" all you want, but really, I don't hate her as much as I'm just sick of people trying to assert that she possesses qualities that she never has or will. The fact that she stumbled across an easy stepping stone to the governor's office, and didn't repeat that in her otherwise thoroughly self-aggrandizing career, does not in any way make her a tragic figure.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:12 PM on May 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


He argues that her strength flowed from her flaws, which were ultimately her undoing.

The appeal that Green is making is that Palin was intrinsically a reformer by nature, at some point, and might have continued on that path


It doesn't. You are being willfully obtuse at this point so I'll just let you have your hate.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:21 PM on May 14, 2011


If you seriously think that Green isn't trying to claim that Palin would have been a reformer for the McCain Administration--which he does, right at the beginning of the article, in the part that I quoted above--then I guess that we're done.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:36 PM on May 14, 2011


Halloween Jack:
A big part of the answer [to why she failed] is that the qualities that brought her original successes--the relentlessness, the impulse to settle scores--weren't nearly so admirable when deployed against less worthy foes than Murkowski and the oil companies...Palin seems to have been driven by a will to advance herself and by a virulent animus against anyone who tried to impede her. But this didn't prevent her from being an uncommonly effective governor, while she lasted. On the big issues, at least, she chose her enemies well, and left the state in better shape than most people, herself included, seem to realize or want to credit her for.
That doesn't sound like Green is arguing for the Palin-as-secret reformer. More a "right place, right time" sort of thing.
posted by Weebot at 1:40 PM on May 14, 2011


If you seriously think that Green isn't trying to claim that Palin would have been a reformer for the McCain Administration--which he does, right at the beginning of the article, in the part that I quoted above--then I guess that we're done.

The quote:

"But a look at what Palin did while in office in Alaska—the only record she has—shows a very different politician: one who worked with Democrats to tame Big Oil and solve the great problem at the heart of the state’s politics. That Sarah Palin might have set the nation on a different course. "

Dude, he is praising her record. The record was good. He goes on to ask:

What went wrong?

That is what the article is about, it goes on to list the reasons the record is out of sync with the reality of the individual.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:47 PM on May 14, 2011


Thing is, Weebot, it's still arguing that she was "an uncommonly effective governor", which she wasn't, and that she has a good record on "the big issues", plural, when it was really just the one thing. (It's worth noting, in the context of Joe McGinniss' article on Palin and the gas pipeline, that TransCanada, the company that won the contract (and a half-billion dollar payout from Alaska) for the pipeline, later announced that they were going ahead with the project... in partnership with ExxonMobil, which had been deliberately shut out of the initial bidding by Palin. So much for sticking it to Big Oil.)

Really, I'm getting kind of tired of rehashing this stuff; it's all still out there, having been written about much better by other people years ago. I'm starting to think that Green (not to mention Vogel at Politico) are doing this purely because they're nostalgic for the easy page hits to be gotten from anything Palin.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:14 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]



Thing is, Weebot, it's still arguing that she was "an uncommonly effective governor", which she wasn't, and that she has a good record on "the big issues",


Oil and Gas are the big issues in Alaska. She got a better deal than anyone was expecting, as you pointed out in her ability to get big checks to the people of Alaska. You spin this as a negative that was only about self-promotion, since you, ya know, will spin anything about her negatively like a Republican nitpicking Obama for not taking out Osama in exactly the manner you wanted.

The deal was good. The article is about why she could not continue that performance. The article trashes her on pretty much everything but that deal.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:40 PM on May 14, 2011


Palin supported the "bridge to nowhere" during the 2006 gubernatorial campaign, pledging to continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges. She cancelled the state funding a month after she took office. Her claim that "I told Congress, thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere" was a lie: she initially supported the project, and she kept the Federal money and used it to build a road to nowhere: the Gravina Island "Highway" from the Ketchikan airport to a beach where the bridge would've been. So breaking a campaign promise and lying about it later is part of her record as governor.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:11 PM on May 14, 2011


Well, more exactly she allowed the road to continue to be built with the federal earmark for the road itself all of which was decided before she was in office. The phrasing of "she kept the bridge money to use to build a road" is not accurate. That said, she still could have cancelled it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:21 PM on May 14, 2011


pracowcity: It was better, but a neocon bought it and moved it to D.C. in 2005. He has a vested interest in making Palin sound like a reasonable choice.

I've seen this thrown around now a few times and I feel that it needs to be addressed. Pretty much every article about politics that gets posted here from The Atlantic, The New York Times, or The New Republic (even NPR!) reliably elicits a few comments of the form “This article is garbage because this publication was in bed with the Bush administration / lied about Iraq / has a neocon owner” as if the flaws, errors, and mistakes of a publication taint the work of anything that anyone publishes under its masthead. Frankly, I think it's lazy and detracts from a conversation about ideas on their own merits.

But, to address just The Atlantic. As someone who works at a major publication and follows the media closely, I can assure you that if you think the owner of a media company is intimately involved with its day-to-day editorial decisions you are probably mistaken. Not all newspapers and magazines are run like Murdoch-owned rags; even Fox News has its editorial tone set by the upper management and editors that Rupert Murdoch has hired, not through micromanagement — it's just more efficient that way. If you think this article was written for an agenda, you'll be taken more seriously if you point your finger at James Bennet, the editor-in-chief. I haven't heard anyone accusing him of right-wing bias. Though, if you followed the 2010 elections you may have heard of his brother Michael (D, CO).

Also, David Bradley the "neocon owner"? You might have read about that on wikipedia: “Politically, Bradley considers himself a centrist, although he has also described himself as "a neocon guy" who was "dead certain about the rightness" of invading Iraq.” Here's the full quote for context:
Bradley looks to his writers for policy guidance. He was, he says, "a neocon guy" who was "dead certain about the rightness" of invading Iraq. He argued about this with his national correspondent, James Fallows, who wrote skeptically about the war, and now concedes Fallows was right.
So, yeah, he was wrong about the Iraq war, but it's not like this guy is a Bush-worshipping right-wing ideologue.
posted by Frankieist at 3:57 PM on May 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Halloween Jack: Well, that's a fundamentally different argument than the "appeal that Green is making is that Palin was intrinsically a reformer by nature". That thesis is, in fact, explicitly rejected by the article, which states that it was the circumstances within Alaska politics that allowed her to cultivate a reformist record. Now, if you want to critique that article's characterization of that record, there is a lot to be said there -- I would especially love to hear Alaskan's opinions in this thread! -- but that would still need to start with an accurate interpretation of the article.
posted by Weebot at 4:57 PM on May 14, 2011


I think that people are going to get out of the article what they will, Weebot. In the third paragraph from the bottom, Green makes it quite clear that he does think that "Palinism" could be applied to Washington.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:14 PM on May 14, 2011


This discussion is all well and good, but does anyone here feel the crushing irony in having a researched, intelligent, and respectful dialogue about a person who publicly would never do the same about any topic at any time? However she behaved in the past is permanently masked by the public face she presents now.
posted by buzzv at 6:18 PM on May 14, 2011


Halloween Jack: Well, I'm not terribly keen on giving too much weight to hypotheticals and speculation, but I should point out that even near the end of the article where you cite, Green doesn't talk about Palin's intrinsic reformer ethos. In fact, when he does spell out her essential traits, he talks about her "aggressiveness" and "gifts for articulating resentments" being "channeled against a foe worth pursuing", which is essentially another way of saying he believes her reformist streak is largely situational.
posted by Weebot at 7:42 PM on May 14, 2011


That's discounting, of course, the small bit about her resigning office. Aside from that little nit, she wasn't erratic or not up to the job at all. Right?

Because there ain't nothing as sexist as a liberal, and that's no lie.

She's a pitbull who excessively personalises politics and doesn't grasp issues in a complex way.

Because she's a woman, right? Or because she's not a woman who grasps issues in the extremely complex way that Nancy Pelosi or Maxine Waters does? Targeted sexism, and it's cool because it's sexist only against women who fucking dare to not be ultra-liberal.

This causes me to realize that she became politically corrupted almost instantly, and quit her job as governor as a result, perhaps unable to reverse herself completely while in the same office.

And there's no chance she quit her job as governor due to the exceeding amount of death threats from wonderful, peace loving liberals, right?
posted by CountSpatula at 9:16 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


*Python old ladies clapping*
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:51 PM on May 14, 2011


I'm still shocked that a Palin post didn't get expunged off the blue as soon as it spawned.

Regretting it a little bit now, huh?
posted by jabberjaw at 10:22 PM on May 14, 2011


And there's no chance she quit her job as governor due to the exceeding amount of death threats from wonderful, peace loving liberals, right?

And then the mask peels back.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:23 PM on May 14, 2011


And there's no chance she quit her job as governor due to the exceeding amount of death threats from wonderful, peace loving liberals, right?

Where's the information to justify this? Your idea didn't even make the top five best reasons in Time magazine for Palin quitting. But I think everyone already knows it had something to do with dodging ethics violations. If your theory was half-true, I don't think there would have been so much speculation of Palin running for president, because it's inconsistent. And you tipped your hand about liberals before you even established your claims about Palin.
posted by Brian B. at 10:24 PM on May 14, 2011


Wow, CountSpatula, 3 for 3!
posted by setanor at 10:33 PM on May 14, 2011


I mean, Wow, CountSpatula, 3 forliberal 3!
posted by setanor at 10:34 PM on May 14, 2011


In answer to your questions, CountSpatula: No, and quit making shit up.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:30 PM on May 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


dude, what, i don't even
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:37 AM on May 15, 2011


See! This! That's the thing!

We are going to read what we "want" to read. I put 'want' in quotations because we don't cognitively want this, but from an evolutionary standpoint it makes sense why humans have developed the ability to retroactively tease 'reason' from 'wants'.

We deeply, strongly feel Sarah Palin is Fucking Awful. And so we wait till we find facts which support our argument, and we disregard facts which stand against our argument. I mean, fuck, I do the same thing. I hate her. And I don't even use the word 'hate' lightly.

Yet, here is an article that is written to appeal to conservatives. It uses conservative language... which in this case means it doesn't outright attack Palin for being, um, politically retarded*. However, it presents the case that Sarah Palin is a vindictive ass hole, despite being a competent governor. I feel this article is pretty fucking scathing to her, from a conservative standpoint.... though, from a language standpoint, liberals are logically going to disregard this article.

In the grand salvos of the culture wars, this is like a rather decent attempt at a white flag. Doesn't make me agree with it - she's awful, fuck her. But, I feel this would be a good link to share with more conservative minded friends, colleagues, and family.


*I hate that word. I'm only using it for effect. Like she uses her granddaughter, Trig
posted by special agent conrad uno at 1:13 AM on May 15, 2011


Like she uses her granddaughter, Trig

I see what you did there.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:02 AM on May 15, 2011


"Because there ain't nothing as sexist as a liberal, and that's no lie."

Lolwhut?

"Because she's a woman, right? Or because she's not a woman who grasps issues in the extremely complex way that Nancy Pelosi or Maxine Waters does? Targeted sexism, and it's cool because it's sexist only against women who fucking dare to not be ultra-liberal."

I'm sorry, what made you think this is because she's a woman? Is this that nihilist argument that we have to tolerate intolerance?

"And there's no chance she quit her job as governor due to the exceeding amount of death threats from wonderful, peace loving liberals, right?"

Pretty much. I mean, I'd give it the same odds that, say, you posted this comment because you're Sarah Palin.

Are you new to rhetorical questions?
posted by klangklangston at 9:13 AM on May 15, 2011


If these straw-man liberals are peace-loving, they're probably not making a lot of death threats.

Would this argument be more convincing if it swapped 'liberals' for 'militant homosexual atheists' or 'domestic animal-rights terrorists' or 'Bill Ayers' or some such bullshit?

Also: if you've got an article which you hope will appeal to conservatives, step one might not be 'publish it in The Atlantic.'
posted by box at 10:00 AM on May 15, 2011


She's taking the pages right out of Rove's playbook. Bush talked about us and them and "real Amurricans" all the time...

and i thank them for it. had they not used gay marriage as a ballot issue to draw voters, my husband and i wouldn't be married today. there's not really a core gay leadership, so often we leave it to republicans to tell us what we're fighting for. i didn't hear my gay friends talk about marriage, and didn't assume it would happen in my lifetime, until republicans kept talking about how we were trying to make it happen; so then we did.

btw, southern baptists absolutely love it when you explain this to them.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 1:40 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


.

> She's a pitbull who excessively personalises politics and doesn't grasp issues in a complex way.

Because she's a woman, right? Or because she's not a woman who grasps issues in the extremely complex way that Nancy Pelosi or Maxine Waters does? Targeted sexism, and it's cool because it's sexist only against women who fucking dare to not be ultra-liberal.


Since that's my original quote, please allow me to say:

a) If Palin was a man, he'd be a man who excessively personalised politics and didn't grasp issues in a complex way. It isn't about gender, it's about taking simplistic stances. Like George W Bush, who I may have subtly hinted I viewed in the same way with the statement 'Bush III isn't tempting'. This referred to the similarity I saw between Palin and Bush. I understand that Bush is male.

b) The above quote makes it hard to take the view that you are arguing in good faith.
posted by jaduncan at 2:42 PM on May 15, 2011


"a) If Palin was a man, he'd be a man who excessively personalised politics and didn't grasp issues in a complex way. It isn't about gender, it's about taking simplistic stances. Like George W Bush, who I may have subtly hinted I viewed in the same way with the statement 'Bush III isn't tempting'. This referred to the similarity I saw between Palin and Bush. I understand that Bush is male."

You mean you don't hate Palin but love Tom DeLay?

And are you sure Bush II is male? We haven't seen his long-form birth certificate.
posted by klangklangston at 3:03 PM on May 15, 2011


Faint of Butt: "In a just world we'd all be taking a look at Abe Vigoda. He's got experience, he's ready to lead.

Isn't he dead?
"

There's a page for that.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:11 AM on May 16, 2011


"In a just world we'd all be taking a look at Abe Vigoda. He's got experience, he's ready to lead.

Isn't he dead?"


I have recently seen Abe Vigoda leaving a diner up in Riverdale and yet I am still unable to answer this question.
posted by JaredSeth at 11:11 AM on May 16, 2011



Because there ain't nothing as sexist as a liberal, and that's no lie.

You're right that's not a lie.. it's just so far off the scales that calling it a lie would be disgracing the fine traditions of lairs.

Troll-on dude
posted by edgeways at 6:52 PM on May 16, 2011


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