Palin Quits. But is She Done?

It’s fascinating that most of the people speculating about Sarah Palin’s decision to leave her  job as governor of Alaska 18 months early are people in her own political party. Depending on who you read, watch, or listen to, she’s either a quitter, or she’s pursing a brilliant but risky political strategy. That would be if you think she’s going to run for president in 2012. As bad off as the GOP is right now, they can’t write her off completely.

Many things are astonishing about Palin’s decision. The first was her feeble attempt at a stream of consciousness in making the announcement itself. If you listen closely, her labored breaths between sentences sounded like she’d either just finished a marathon, or that she couldn’t wait to get this thing over with. Palin’s “I don’t want to be a lame duck” excuse was even worse. This is politics, pal. Lame ducks are a part of the game you chose. Besides, is she saying by quitting this early there’s nothing more she could do for her state?

Then there’s the alleged attacks on Palin and her family by the media. Aside from being the oldest trick in the book, Palin knows the worst thing media did to her was ask a number of questions she couldn’t answer during the presidential campaign. Besides, is she talking about her good friends from Fox News when she talks about media that “doesn’t understand, it’s about country”? Maybe she is in fact quitting so she can prepare for a presidential run in 2012.

It’s then fair to ask, why does she need so much preparation? We’re talking three years and change. If a governor can’t serve out an elected term because they need to get ready for higher office, how suitable are they for the office they seek? In the barren landscape that contains Republican presidential hopefuls, maybe Sarah Palin is still the Great Conservative Hope, no matter what she does.

It’s interesting that rumors she quit because of a pending embezzlement probe were strong enough to warrant a letter to the media from her, and an FBI statement to the effect she’s not the subject of a Bureau investigation. That’s not usual, but then neither was Palin’s decision to quit. It’s a given that someone who has risen to prominence so quickly will stay in the media spotlight for awhile. However, Palin’s gamble to me shows a losing hand. The term quitter is going to dog her every action, and if she does make a presidential run three years from now, it will be Republicans, not Democrats, that will pound her with it.

Yet maybe, just maybe, Sarah Palin knows something we don’t know. What do you think. Was it a smart move for Palin to resign as governor of Alaska?

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Why is Mark Sanford Still Talking? Why is He Still in Office?

The bizarro governor of South Carolina seems incapable of shutting his yap. During the past week or so, this guy has admitted he lied to his staff about an Appalachian Trail hike, when instead he was visiting his mistress in Argentina.

Since then, he’s said, among other things, that his wife knew about the affair, that he asked her permission to visit the woman, that she was his soul mate, that he’d messed around with other women but hadn’t had sex with them. Let’s see, did I leave anything out?

US-BUSH-SANFORD-FUNDRAISER

Sanford, you may remember, was full of righteous indignation about the sexual foibles of Bill Clinton. He’s also the fool who didn’t want to take stimulus money even though his state’s education system badly needed it.

The people of South Carolina must suffer fools gladly. So must Sanford’s wife Jenny and their four kids. Talk about public embarrassment!

But this isn’t really about that. It’s more about a sitting governor being addle brained enough to drop looking after the business of the people of his state to follow his heart (or another part of his anatomy) all the way to South America. Is it any wonder he’s refused to release financial records that might show whether he used taxpayer funds to hang out with this woman in the past?

Equally as hilarious is the notion that Mark Sanford can somehow redeem his marriage by staying on as governor.

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If there’s a connection between these things, it escapes me. It also escapes a growing chorus of voices in his home state that are calling on him to resign. Those who support him are telling the press he’s tired, but showing no signs of instability. Is that what it takes to govern  an American state in the 21st century? No sign of instability?

The amazing thing about the litany of serial political adulterers is that party affiliation has little to do with whether they stray. Democrats do it just like Republicans. Liberals, conservatives, religious zealots, it just doesn’t matter. I think I know why they do it, but I won’t share it here, lest I be called sexist or worse.

However, there is this to ponder. Very few women in politics get caught up in the foolishness that’s nailed the likes of Eliot Spitzer, John Ensign, Larry Craig, David Vitter, Bill Clinton, Mark Foley, and yes, I’ve left some out.

Why is that? Yes, there are fewer female elected officials, but are they better at not getting caught? Are they smarter? Or perhaps, are they just not drunk enough with power to think any member of the opposite sex they fancy is fair game?

Whatever. The central question is, Can Mark Sanford survive the calls for his political head? I’m guessing no, not too much longer.

What do you think?

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Manuel Zelaya –Will Honduran President Foil the Coup?

President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras is the kind of guy that used to give America fits. That is, he wasn’t the kind of reliable ally the George W. Bush and others before him used to count on in Central America.

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This past Sunday, about 100 soldiers entered this elected president’s home, and rushed him onto a plane bound for Costa Rica. His crime? He wanted to hold a referendum on re-writing the Honduran constitution.

Part of what Zelaya wanted was the chance to serve a second four-year term. That’s prohibited in the current constitution. What’s interesting about this is the striking similarity between what Zelaya wanted to do, and what New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg did here.

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There are some major differences, however. Bloomberg got his chance to run for a third term by suborning the local city council. If he’d submitted the question to a referendum as Zelaya wanted to do, he might have lost.

The political parallel between the two can’t be denied.

Politicians generally are loath to leave office if they don’t think they’re ready. They may mouth platitudes about their need to serve, but, like fighters, some just can’t give up the spotlight. So it is with Bloomberg, so it appears to be with Zelaya, even though he’s nothing near the power hungry dictator in waiting some US media have made him out to be. When you read that he raised the minimum wage by 60% during his time in office, you wonder whether, if the Honduran people had a chance, they might not re-elect him.

Of course, not everyone thinks raising the minimum wage is a good thing. And when Zelaya fired top military General Romeo Vasquez for refusing to implement preparations for the referendum, the stage was set for the military and the Honduran oligarchy to act in concert. Zelaya’s support of Honduras’ poor people was too much. However, subsequent events must have taken them by surprise.

First the region, then Europe, then even the US lined up to condemn the coup.

It’s been condemned for what it is, a strong-arm tactic by a group of thugs in uniform. Here the similarity to recent events in Iran is worth noting.

So too is the reaction of President Obama. While he’s been hesitant to take some steps that could probably give the coup leaders pause, his statements demanding the reinstatement of Zelaya are welcome and needed. The next step is, of course, to cut off US aid to the country if it’s clear the money will go into the hands (and pockets) of the plotters. The firmness of Obama’s resolve could go a long way toward ending the reported brutal repression of protests against the coup.

Manuel Zelaya says he’ll return to Honduras on Thursday. What do you think. Will he be reinstated as president?

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