(Be sure to read through the end, as I have the inside scoop on her plans for 2012)
Having studied Sarah Palin now for just shy of 4 years, I have noticed a recurring trend that is now playing a big role in her 2012 campaign/non-campaign. The trend is that she has this awful habit, dangerous in politicians, of meaning what she says and saying what she means. This habit, coupled with the media's (and other pundits') insistence on looking for the "hidden meaning" in every politician's utterings is a bad combination.
Now the media does this with all politicians. I'm not sure if it's worse with Sarah or if it's just the combination that's deadly. But this definitely seems to get her in a lot of trouble and allow the media to paint a distorted image of her.
On the other hand, this unusual approach to politics is why so many of us like her. It is why so many of us like Chris Christie as well (unless he runs for President in 2012, but more on that later). This trait is what voters say they want most in a politician (though many secretly despise).
Before I get to the 2012 situation, I will present just a few (of many) examples of how Palin gets herself in trouble this way.
Katie Couric and the Newspapers
Here, Katie asks Sarah what newspapers and magazines she read before being tapped as McCain's veep. Now, Sarah's answer was a non-answer, which got her into much trouble. But there's more to it than that. The "correct" answer for a politician to give to the MSM would include the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, New Yorker, etc. I have no doubt that Palin never read any of those regularly. If she had answered National Review, Wall Street Journal, Human Events, American Spectator, etc., she would have been branded a right-wing kook. If she had answered Better Homes and Gardens, Runners World, Guns and Ammo, etc., she would have been branded non-serious. I suspect the truth for Sarah is that she reads from a variety of publications, many through links on the Drudge Report or RCP (which is what I basically do). So her answer was probably the most correct one, and she was not willing to spout the list of liberal rags if it wasn't what she meant. But she definitely has paid the price for her answer.
Pals Around With Terrorists
In this now infamous campaign rhetoric, Palin discusses Barack Obama's longstanding ties to Weather Underground bomber William Ayers. The media coverage of this focused on what they thought she was trying to accomplish by bringing this up. According to them, she was fomenting violence and hate towards Obama, bringing up irrelevant associations from his "distant" past, or even trying to stir up racial bigotry. They refused to take her at face value that a long-time association with someone who hates America enough to commit acts of terror is a troubling thing worth investigating. They refused to see this as a sign that Obama did not believe in American Exceptionalism. (They knew this, of course, so this was more of a deliberate misinterpretation.)
Resignation as Governor
From the moment she began her announcement, there was endless speculation as to "why" she was resigning. We've heard that she did it to make money, that she couldn't stand the heat, that she did it to save her family from the legal bills, etc., etc., ad nauseum. If you didn't watch the video, here's the key part of the statement:
With this announcement that I am not seeking re-election... I've determined it's best to transfer the authority of governor to Lieutenant Governor Parnell; and I am willing to do so, so that this administration - with its positive agenda, its accomplishments, and its successful road to an incredible future - can continue without interruption and with great administrative and legislative success.
My choice is to take a stand and effect change - not hit our heads against the wall and watch valuable state time and money, millions of your dollars, go down the drain in this new environment. Rather, we know we can effect positive change outside government at this moment in time, on another scale, and actually make a difference for our priorities - and so we will, for Alaskans and for Americans.
Reading these words in retrospect one realizes that not only did she mean exactly what she said, but that what she hoped to accomplish by resigning has indeed happened.
In the Crosshairs
Here, Palin said exactly what she meant. Her Facebook post accompanying this map said:
We're going to reclaim the power of the people from those who disregarded the will of the people. We're going to fire them and send them back to the private sector, which has been shrinking thanks to their destructive government-growing policies. Maybe when they join the millions of unemployed, they'll understand why Americans wanted them to focus on job creation and an invigorated private sector.
And as we all know, when some kook who had no apparent interest in or connection to Sarah Palin took a shot at a well-liked Arizona congresswoman, the media and left (redundant) was all too happy to imply that Palin meant something other than what she said. By the time the truth came out, the damage was done. Ironically, Gabby Giffords survived the attack and is recovering remarkably well, while Palin's national electoral prospects may have taken a fatal blow. Neither deserved what they got.
(Okay, if you skipped to this section looking for the promised "inside scoop", go back and read the rest of the diary first!)
The Real End, or 2012
For well over a year now, Sarah Palin has stated time and time again that yes, she is indeed considering a run for the presidency in 2012. She has never wavered from this position, nor given any indication which way she will choose. And when asked when she would make an announcement of her decision, she has only given one timetable. By the end of September.
So why is she now accused of being a "political tease"? Why did Drudge feature a headline "The Tease" with a photo of her bus? Why did Erick Erickson say "I give up, and I'm tired of being teased."?
The answer is simple. Once again, folks just cannot accept that she means what she said. She said the end of September. But surely, like most other politicians, she'll give us a hint ahead of time! Surely some "aide" will let the truth slip, either planned or unplanned. Surely she won't actually make us wait that long!
She said end of September. She meant end of September. (And stop calling me Shirley!)
I find it somewhat ironic and amusing that so many on the right (Erick included, apparently) are giving up on a woman who has been openly and consistently considering a run because she won't tell us her answer weeks early. Yet these same folks are happy to jump on the bandwagon of a guy who lied about not running, then magically changed his mind and "explored" a run for a month before jumping in. (Frankly, this is what many politicians do, so I won't use that against Perry in my decision. But I'm still struck by the irony of this.) And many will support Chris Christie if he changes his mind, despite the fact that he has said he would have to "commit suicide" to convince people he isn't going to run.
On a side note, a solid argument can be made that the end of September is too late. I'll leave that discussion for a different venue.