Saturday, July 04, 2009

In Praise of Sarah Palin

In advance of the nation's Independence Day, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin once again asserted her own independence, by stepping out of "politics as usual" and stepping down from her position as Alaska's governor. See her speech here.

By doing so, she again violated our image of the "typical politician," holding the well-being of her family and her state above her own interests in power and influence. Though Palin has done nothing wrong, she has been hounded by the press and besieged by nuisance lawsuits for months, even after the election that brought her to prominence as the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Republican party was over. It was this unending distraction that convinced her that the interests of the state could be better served by her Lieutenant Governor, and the interests of her family lie with her resignation as governor.

How refreshing it is to be treated to a person in a leadership position who steps down from that position for the good of others, rather than one being forced out of office by scandal, selfishness, sexual deviance, or criminality (not to mention those who refuse to leave--yes, I'm talking to you, Mark Sanford, John Ensign, David Patterson. Some things really do disqualify you from leadership, and adultery should be one of them.)

Palin stated in her resignation speech (which, like Sarah herself, struck the media like a bolt from the blue, shoving all other news temporarily off the map, and stunning even the most savvy of press observers) that she could do just as much good work for the people of Alaska out of the office as in it, something she said she has always believed about political power. Essentially, she said that it's not the office one holds, or the name on the door, or even having a door at all that makes powerful political influence; it's the passion of the activist and the depth of the commitment.

On July 3rd, Sarah Palin proved her mettle as a champion of the interests of Alaskans, a fiscal conservative, and a family-focused woman. She recognized that all the attention she was getting--not for her policies, her position, or her record as Governor--were wasting the time and resources of the people of Alaska, the people she had pledged to serve. Defending one's self against Vanity Fair articles, former campaign workers, and late-night comedians takes time and effort. And, as Governor, her time and effort was to rightly belong to the people of Alaska. If she was going to have to fight personal battles to protect her family and her reputation, it would have to be on her own time. Rather than continue this drain on Alaskan resources, the Governor assessed her team, and realized that there were people on it who could carry on without her--and without the lightning rod she had become.

She did the right thing. As she did when asked to serve as the candidate for Vice-President (a position, you may have noticed, that invites the kind of unending personal attacks she is still experiencing--unlike that of governor of Alaska, which is supposed to be an office respected by the national media, or at least ignored.) As a side note, I would say that after Dan Quayle was no longer Vice-President, he was also no longer mentioned by the national media. Nor was any other such figure hounded while out of the national running.

In fact, that's the history of the Sarah Palin we've come to know. She does the right thing.

When she saw corruption on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Committee--corruption she was powerless to do anything about, even as the Ethics Supervisor--she resigned in protest. Then, from the outside, she pursued the case, eventually driving the Attorney General and the Republican Party Chair from office. She did the right thing.

When faced with a late-in-life potentially hazardous pregnancy, Sarah welcomed the advent of a new baby. When told this unborn child would be born with Down Syndrome--despite, as she told an Evansville pro-life audience, a momentary flash of fear and understanding of just how easy it would be to have an abortion and make it all go away--she stood true to her strong faith in God, her stalwart belief in the intrinsic value of human life, and her love of family. She had the baby, and at 5-months old, Trig Palin did what few adults ever do in their lives. He became a symbol of hope to activists and parents of the disabled all over this planet, a living proof that children with disabilities can be welcomed, cared for, and equally cherished. Women need not fear them. Societies need not abort them.

Again, in the face of life-changing challenge, she did the right thing.

When her teenage daughter came to her as an unwed mother, she again stood by the principles of her faith and her family. In the Palin's faith, all life is precious. All life, no matter how conceived, damaged in the eyes of society, inconvenient, or frightening. Even knowing she was about to be thrust into the spotlight, Sarah Palin did not move to cover up her family's "secret." She made no attempt to shun her daughter or keep her from the family stage. Instead, she welcomed both her daughter and Levi Johnson, Bristol's then-fiancee, into a political adventure that few ever experience. She stood on stage, challenges and all, and spoke the Politics of Truth to the American people.

Again, she did the right thing.

And now, as she leaves the Governor's mansion, we do not expect her to simply go away. We know that God has raised her up "for such a time as this," that she will be preparing for the "open doors" that will be given to her in the next few years. Whether she will run for office again remains unknown. Whether she is the kind of person who should lead the American people is a question we can already answer.

Yes. Because she can be trusted to Do the Right Thing.

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