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Editorial: Candidate Palin? Those days are over

Last modified: 1/26/2015 10:04:08 PM
Whether she knows it or not, Sarah Palin penned her own political obituary during the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines on Saturday.

For 35 minutes, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate – and perennial fundraising darling for the Republican Party – meandered from one incoherent topic to another, often resorting to the playground taunts and fortune cookie wisdom that are her bread and butter.

Her gems included comparing Obama to a spoiled little boy who never learned that “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” and a tangent about critics of the film American Sniper, during which she shouted “screw the left in Hollywood.” At one point, she even resorted to “I’m rubber, you’re glue” tactics: When the left points at Republicans about sexism and racism, Palin said, there are three times as many fingers pointing back at them.

But she saved perhaps the most vapid of her stream-of-consciousness critiques for Hillary Clinton: “The press asks, ‘Can anyone stop Hillary?’ Again, this is to forego a conclusion, right? It’s to scare us off, to convince us that a pantsuit can crush patriots.”

Say what?

In the aftermath of Palin’s bizarre linguistic jaunt, some news outlets reported that her teleprompter froze, which forced her to ad-lib much of the speech. It’s a defense Palin has used before, and it remains just as ridiculous today as ever. Anybody who has ever worked with a teleprompter can tell you that you should always keep a copy of the text in front of you. A speaker should never cast their fate to a piece of equipment that is out of their control. But suppose, for the sake of argument, that Palin made that rookie mistake, which led to her plethora of cringe-worthy tangents. What kind of speaker is so unfamiliar with their prepared speech that if the teleprompter breaks, Plan B is to channel their inner James Joyce?

Once the poor teleprompter is cleared of blame, all that remains is the fact that Palin delivered the speech she intended to deliver, which is a frightening thought considering the job Sen. John McCain had in mind for her in 2008. He should thank his lucky stars every day that the people of the United States and the world never had to pay for that colossal lapse in judgment.

While those who have tracked Palin since she burst onto the national political scene may not be surprised that she went off the rails a little bit, this time was different. Never has she appeared less capable of leading a local board meeting, never mind the government of the United States, than she did in Iowa over the weekend.

And that makes what she said the day before her turn at the Freedom Summit seem even more mind-boggling. In an interview with the Washington Post on Friday, Palin was asked whether she was interested in running for president in 2016.

“You can absolutely say that I am seriously interested,” she said.

There are only two possible explanations for that answer. One is that she has so much confidence in her ability to win over voters with her folksy charm that she honestly believes no one will notice the complete lack of substance in almost everything she says. The other, and perhaps more probable explanation, is that Palin is much more interested in being a political celebrity than a political candidate, a la Donald Trump.

Either way, it’s time to put the Candidate Palin myth to rest. She can flirt with a run all she wants, but voters should see her “will I or won’t I” for what it is – an attempt to remain relevant in a conversation that is way over her head.


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