I'm a couple of days late to this Kathleen Parker column, which -- preposterously -- portrays Sarah Palin as more sinned against than sinning:
When Democrats were looking for evidence of a Republican war on women, they overlooked Exhibit A -- Sarah Palin.
This isn’t to say that Palin was part of the war on women, though many Democrats would say so. Rather, she was one of the war’s most conspicuous victims -- fragged, you might say, by her own troops.
... blame for her general collapse beginning in 2008 can be placed in large part upon her own party, which used her and cast her aside.
Please explain, Kathleen.
Not that long ago, Palin was a breathtakingly attractive politician of a rare sort.... Republican strategists desperate for a running mate for John McCain who brought some razzle-dazzle saw her as the game-changer....
What Republicans didn’t know about Palin, however, did hurt them. Despite her many talents, she was “clearly out of her league,” as I wrote in September 2008....
Let’s be honest. Any man of Palin’s comparable deficits, no matter his winning ways, would have been eliminated from consideration within minutes of opening his mouth.
Um, Dan Quayle?
This doesn’t mean that Palin was incapable of becoming a formidable national politician. It only means that she wasn’t ready. She needed to do what former Texas governor Rick Perry has done. Recognizing his mistakes in 2012, Perry has spent the past two years meeting with conservative scholars for briefings on economics, health care, budgets, tax policy and so on.
Palin apparently took a different route....
So, Kathleen, what has prevented her from doing something like this in the years since 2008, even as she's labored mightily to inject herself into political debates? In fact, what prevented her from doing more cramming during the 2008 campaign? And if she didn't have the policy chops to handle the running-mate job (much less the vice presidency or, God help us, presidency), why couldn't she figure that out about herself when she was invited to be on the ticket? Why couldn't she say, "Thanks, but no thanks"? She was a grown woman. She was a fairly high-level Republican elected official, which means she ought to have known something about the job requirements of a VP candidate. There'd been some talk of her as a possible running mate for about a year. Oh, and she had an unmarried teenage daughter whom she exposed to national humiliation by taking the gig. (Yes, John Edwards and Bill Clinton exposed their kids to humiliation with their own infidelities, but they were idiots for doing that.) Was saying no never an option for Palin, if it should have been clear to her she was unprepared when the call came?
Apparently, to Parker, Palin had no agency in this situation -- Parker wonders why Palin agreed to run with McCain, then concludes that when the evil slicksters came to her with their offer (which, yes, was an appalling misjudgment on their part), she just couldn't help herself and had to say yes:
If Republican strategists had viewed Palin in 2008 as someone with talent who needed nurturing and support, she might have been ready for a national ticket by 2016. But this possibility exposes the matter of her own judgment. One wonders why Palin would accept the invitation to become McCain’s running mate, given how ill-prepared she was, not to mention that she’d just had a baby. Then again, a woman like Sarah, always the brightest star in her orbit, couldn’t resist the roar of the crowd.
They said she'd be famous? How can you say no to that?
What she didn’t count on was the stress of constant travel, performance and cramming for speeches -- or the pain of separation from her family.
She needed it explained to her that running for vice president would have these consequences?
... Imagine being the governor of a frontier state, suddenly being placed before millions of armchair critics and asked to perform without proper preparation, training or support. This is crazy-making on its face; devastating and crushing to the individual who finds herself alone on the ledge.
Yes, I can imagine it. Why couldn't she?
In the end, the story of Palin’s rise and fall is a tragedy. And the author wasn’t the media as accused but the Grand Old Party itself. Like worshipers of false gods throughout human history, Republicans handpicked the fair maiden Sarah and placed her on the altar of political expedience.
They sacrificed her.
No, because even after 2008 she didn't have to become a national embarrassment. After Dan Quayle left the vice presidency, he flirted with a couple of political runs and wrote a couple of books, but mostly he's kept a low profile. Similarly, Mike Dukakis stayed out of the limelight after he lost the presidency in '88 and his gubernatorial term ended.
Palin could have done something like that, or she could have grown up and gotten serious about politics if she wanted to stay in the game. No slicksters prevented her from doing that. But in Parker's eyes, a woman like Palin has no control over her own bad choices. If there's sexism here, it's that point of view.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog