Palin's Resignation Not Necessary
By Bill Pascoe | July 6, 2009 6:54 AM |
Mark Levin says she's "running for president, get used to it;" Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol says she could run for president; Charlie Cook agrees with Kristol that she could run for president; but Karl Rove says the decision to resign early would hurt her in a future run for president, and RedState founder Erick Erickson flatly declares "she will not run for any elected office ever again."
What's missing in all the instant analyses of will-she-won't-she is a rather more simple calculus -- not as to whether or not this move will hurt her chances should she choose to run for President down the road, but as to whether or not this move should hurt her chances should she choose to run for President down the road.
It is as if no one in the commentariat wants any longer to make judgments of right and wrong; instead, it's all treated, quite cynically, along the axis of whether or not this is a "wise" move or not, politically speaking.
Well, on the question of whether or not resigning early should hurt Palin's chances for future elective office, count my vote in the "aye" column, because resigning early was both unnecessary and wrong.
One of two things is true: Either she resigned early at least partly in the belief that it would help position her better for a future run for national office, or she did not.
If she did not, then nothing I or anyone else has to say about it makes a bit of difference to her, politically speaking -- she cares not what we say or write, because she has no plans that could be affected by what we say or write.
But if she did resign early in the belief that it would help better position her for a future run for office, she has miscalculated, for an early resignation, for her, is unnecessary.
Her scheduled term of office expires in December 2010.
Serving out her full term would have left her positioned perfectly to launch a bid in January 2011, a year before the Iowa caucuses.
Even with the longer campaigns of the modern era, that's plenty of time to campaign -- Barack Obama, for example, launched his campaign for the 2008 nomination on February 10, 2007.
Palin already has sky-high favorable ratings among Republicans -- in this recent survey conducted by the Pew Center, for instance, she shows a 73 percent favorable rating among Republicans, an 80 percent favorable rating among conservative Republicans, and an 84 percent favorable rating among White evangelical Republicans.
It's hard to see how anything she could do as a former governor -- but could not do as a sitting governor -- would raise those favorables further. They're already stratospheric.
But more important even than the consideration of how little she will gain by the move is the consideration of how much she will lose.
She will lose a lot.
The election of Barack Obama in 2008 notwithstanding, it is a rule of presidential politics that America elects governors and former governors to the presidency.
Since the turn of the last century, America has elected 19 men to serve as President.
Nine of them -- William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush -- served as governor prior to their service as President.
Only three of them -- Warren Harding, John Kennedy, and Obama -- were elevated to the presidency directly from their seats in the U.S. Senate.
(Three others -- Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon -- also served in the U.S. Senate prior to the ascension to the presidency, but they achieved the presidency only after serving first as Vice President.)
There are many reasons why governors have the upper hand when it comes to winning the nomination of their party, but let's focus on the most important -- in the most direct manner possible, being a governor appears, to the American public, to be the best possible audition ground for the presidency, for the simple reason that being governor is almost exactly like being president of your own state, except that you're not constantly followed by a military aide carrying nuclear codes, and you don't have the power to order the U.S. Mint to print more currency.
Running a business prepares you for ... running another, perhaps larger, business; but running a state government, well, that prepares you for running the federal government (at least as well as any job could be said properly to prepare one for running the federal government).
On any given day, there are 50 governors, and only only 50 governors.
On any given day, 49 of them look in the mirror as they dress and see a potential president looking back at them.
Serious grass roots leaders work on campaigns at all levels, from president right down to school board -- but, having spent the better part of the last three decades of my life working with them in campaigns all over the country, I can attest to the fact that, generally speaking, grass roots leaders work harder on governor's races than they do on any campaign other than a race for the White House -- perhaps because they recognize that in working to elect a favored candidate to a governorship, they are simultaneously working to qualify that candidate for a future run for the White House.
All over the country, conservative activists at the grass roots level have worked their behinds off for years to get their favored candidates elected to governorships, precisely because they recognize that while they may be smart enough to deduce some particular political leader's qualifications for the Big Job absent a successful track record as governor, most voters are not smart enough to see those qualifications without benefit of a gubernatorial record.
By resigning her position early, Palin has effectively declared her belief that she need not audition any longer for the Big Job.
And for that, she should pay a political price.
A four-century old conservative axiom says simply, "When it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change."
A more recent -- and more recognizable -- sage said, "winners never quit, and quitters never win."
Sarah Palin is hoping both the 2nd Viscount Falkland and Vince Lombardi are wrong.