Sunday, July 19, 2009

Que Sera, Sarah

I've been reading American newspaper opinions of the Sarah Palin resignation with great interest and regularity here in Thailand, and I have to say, I am quite perplexed by the largely negative, cynical reactions of the media, almost as perplexed as everyone stateside seems to be the timing and logic of Palin's decision to drop Anchorage.

Well, I think I understand, in a way that none of you in the contiguity can, the logic behind quitting one's job eighteen months early in order to gain a higher position three years hence, for I, here in Northern Thailand, share with Mrs. Palin the perspective and cagy wisdom of a fellow outsider, as well as a proximity to Russia.

So, I want to try to explain why Palin's one-and-a-half-year notice is a reasoned, smart, savvy gambit, one that, if the rumors are true, well prepares her to be President of America.

First, this move is Presidential because it is precedential--it has precedent. The most obvious and immediate comparison is to Richard Nixon, who abdicated the California Governorship in the early 60s only to reemerge in the late 60s as a beautiful, multicolored political butterfly, spreading his wings and lightly landing in the winner's circle of the 1968 Presidential race. Nixon was elected to two terms in office, Palin-ing the second term after two years, perhaps to again run for an even higher office (God?). Decades have passed and most historians agree that Nixon turned out to be better than a vast majority of American presidents--well, a vast majority of South American presidents, but still. He was a good president if you ignore all of the evidence to the contrary.

There is, however, an even better precedent for Palin, one that we can glean not from C-SPAN, but from E-SPAN--er, ESPN. Sorry, I don't have English-language TV here.

Basketball fans will remember the story of Willis Reed and the 1970 New York Knicks. Reed, New York's Hall of Fame center, left Game 5 (out of 7) of the NBA Championships with a thigh injury, and most sports writers and medical doctors of the time wrote him off for the remainder of the series, just as political writers and spin doctors are writing off Palin. However, Reed surprised everyone when, just five days later, he hobbled onto the court for the deciding game of the Championships, providing an emotional boost to a crippled Knick nation, immediately scoring four points and leading New York to a Championship.

That's right, after leaving early, Reed returned after five days and scored four points. By my calculations, that means that when Palin returns, she will score the equivalent of 4,380 points for this country. Take that, Woodrow Wilson. Forget the League of Nations: how about the League of Infinite Time and Space? That's what President Palin would bring to the table, America.

But Sarah Palin has not only learned from the successes of other's history, but, more heartening, she is also learning from the failures of her own history.

The Republican ticket got O-Bombed in the last election, but the God-Damn Obama Party would be stupid to simly blame Barack. That's why Palin's strategy, as a reaction to the 2008 race, is so brilliant. Because what are the two things we heard over and over again from VP-to-be Palin on the campaign trail:

1) Barack Obama does not have enough leadership experience to be President.
2) Barack Obama knows too many Washington insiders to be an effective President.

Clearly, the American people did not care about either of those; and so what does Sarah Palin do? Not more of the same, no no. In order to better position herself for a 2012 Presidential run, she has given up the extra leadership experience in order to get to know more Washington insiders.


Finally, let's take a moment to praise Sarah Palin-As-Maverick. By quitting her job eighteen months early, for reasons that most of us cannot comprehend, she is once again doing the opposite of what will get her voted, a bold strategy. To do what is not popular among voters might seem counterintuitive in a country whose political system is predicated on politicians doing what voters want in order to get elected; but then again, you don't have the intuitions of Governor Sarah Palin. What will become of Palin, only time will tell: a time that will arrive a little later in Alaska, where Mrs. Palin will not be, for she will be in the future, in Washington D.C.

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