Palin: Political Psycho or Hockey Mom?
Opinion by Peter Larsen, NEWS JUNKIE POST Columnist
While current speculation about the reasons for Palin’s resignation offer theories based on practical considerations, perhaps we need to focus much more on her personality make-up to understand her decision.
Palin the renegade
The basketball point-guard analogy was not only invoked to highlight her sacrifice for the conservative cause, but was also clearly aimed at the GOP leadership in Washington, with whom she has repeatedly crossed swords, for example on matters of billing at high profile GOP events. Palin also has a long history of battling the GOP leadership in Alaska, where she enjoys considerably lower levels of support from conservative leaders than in the lower 48 states.
While the ongoing power struggle between social conservatives and the centrist wing on the GOP means that there is currently a great deal less discipline within the party, it’s certain that going it alone on accepting stimulus money would normally not be allowed to slide as it has recently; nonetheless, this is exactly the kind of behavior that many have come to expect of Palin.
I’m taking my ball, not playing anymore
In her 18-minute speech Palin appeared fairly upbeat, but also at times bitter, particularly referencing local ethics investigations, and the large costs of such inquiries. She really sounded as if this was all beneath her, childish games, but games that she’s had enough of. In addition to the pressure of ethics investigations, Palin has experienced relentless and building pressure from the bloggersphere and the press in Anchorage and Wasilla over the last nine months. This scrutiny stems not only from questions around expense claims and other financial matters, but also that the Alaskan Government has taken on a startling resemblance to Palin’s college yearbook. And that’s before anyone started digging into the now rejected nomination of far-right wing lawyer Wayne Anthony Ross, a man that sports his initials WAR on the registration plates of his Hummer, has called gays “degenerates” and allegedly defended men who raped their wives. As we saw in the Letterman affair, Palin is not one who approaches adversity or disagreement with a Zen-like demeanor.
Off to save the GOP and the US of America
Nick Ayers, executive director of the Republican Governor’s Association, told Fox News that according to emails received before the resignation, Palin was intending to expand her role within the GOP, going on the stump across the US for GOP candidates. Alaskan colleagues, including Senator Begich had meetings within 72 hours of Palin’s resignation speech, and she shared nothing of her plans with them. This could be put down to being plain inconsiderate, but also simply keeping her cards close to her chest, if it’s true – as claimed in the speech – that she had been planning this for a while.
It’s also not beyond possibility that she simply decided to take a huge throw of the dice, sometime between the Vanity Fair piece hitting the airwaves early in the week and telling Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell of her decision on Wednesday. That speaks for a planned strategy (or ambition at least) being in place since November 4, 2008 or before, but a hasty decision precipitated by pique or frustration on the spur of the moment.
Give me my tea
A favorite theory of the left, which after yesterday’s events has attracted a strong following on the right as well, is that Palin is simply several cups short of a full tea service. While Palin has successfully nurtured her renegade image, unattributed and on-the-record statements from the 2008 presidential campaign in particular have led many to seriously question not only the intellectual strength and maturity of Palin, but even her mental stability. While Palin is undoubtedly tremendously headstrong, she has also faced incredible pressure since being tapped as VP back a year ago. Others have cracked under less.
The patter of tiny Palins?
Rick Sanchez on CCN suggested that Palin could be pregnant. Stranger things have happened, and having another child, even the sixth one, can certainly bring even the most fiercely ambitious person to get a whole new perspective on life. While purely speculative, and really nothing to do with anyone outside of her immediate family circle, very specific familial reasons could be the trigger for such a fundamental decision.
The only pointer we have towards it being truly and deeply familial, as opposed to political, is MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell report from ‘sources close to the family’ that Palin is definitively finished with politics for good, reported within an hour of Palin’s statement from the lawn of her home.
“Your theory is crazy, but it’s not crazy enough to be true” (Bertolt Brecht)
Palin is driven by ambition, undoubtedly spurred on by the bright lights and adulating crowds of the 2008 presidential campaign; additionally, she speaks policy and political philosophy in a nuts and bolts language, delivered in a composed demeanor. However, much speaks for a woman of real ideological and personal passion, someone that does not suffer fools gladly (oh, the irony some would say), moved primarily by the heart and not the mind. Looking at the psyche behind the woman in the prim two-pieces gives us clues to a maelstrom of feelings and passions that may help us to understand the decision more than practical considerations of doing book-tours, fronting TV shows and running in 2012. And as is often the case with these things, it’s probably not one or the other of these characteristics that lay behind her choices, but an amalgam of them.