I am severely disappointed that Sarah Palin is resigning as Governor of Alaska. I will skip background as any reader should already be familiar with it or can easily find such.
I think what we have seen with Palin is a modern witch burning. She was attacked, not her policies. The goal was not to discredit her political views but her person. In this effort nothing was spared — truth, accuracy, decency, rule of law — nothing restrained those wanting to politically burn Palin. I agree with those who say much of it was class based, that Palin’s very success invalidated much of their world view, such as the prestige of going to the proper schools. That attacks on her accent are a clear demonstration of both the pettiness and class resentment.
Many pundits are saying “that’s just hard ball politics” but look at the reaction from the same places when something as mild as claiming Obama made an obscene gesture based on a video of him making the gesture. Beyond that the attacks on Palin weren’t just the normal fringes from which one expects lunacy, but at the very mainstream of our political, journalistic, and entertainment establishments. Just consider Andrew Sullivan’s obsession with Trig Palin’s maternity. Or Charlie Gibson inventing quotes for Palin on national TV. Most of all, consider how well not firing back worked for President Bush. The rule that one faction (the MAL) should not be called on for such abuse is so nakedly partisan that I don’t see how any honest commentator can say it with a straight face. Representative Barney Frank gets called “Barney Fag” and it’s a national crisis. Palin gets called every obscene word for “woman” and attacked as a sex pervert despite being married and monogamous, and it’s “lay back and endure it”.
The entire episode also serves as a devastating indictment of Old Media. Not only did it stand aside while personal and financial attacks were made on Palin and her family, Old Media actively participated in those attacks, covering for those abusing the law to ruin Palin financially while promoting whatever lies about Palin seemed damaging. When the dominant political establishment wanted to crush an outsider, Old Media was right there in the front lines aiding and abetting. I can’t see any conclusion except that our political and civil life will be better when Old Media is finally destroyed. I resolve to increase my efforts toward that end.
A naive person might expect this kind of thing to die down now that Palin is smoking embers but I expect it to get worse. It worked, after all, and what price did any of the torch bearers pay? The vilification of former President Bush didn’t stop the effort against Palin — one might reasonably view that as practice. In the same way I expect the burning of Palin to serve more as a model than a peak or cautionary tale.
For Palin personally I suspect that what really ground her down were the lack of support and open attacks from her nominal allies like the McCain crew and the GOP establishment. Why suffer like that, sacrificing not only yourself but your family, for people who don’t like you and hope you fail?