Sunday, July 05, 2009 at 12:39 PM EDT
Sarah Palinâ€™s decision to quit with 18 months left in her first term as Governor of Alaska is perplexing. The move seems to highlight her weakness as a national figure â€“ the fact that she is unqualified for the presidency.
Barack Obama was able to survive his weak resume because, in a TV-controlled political world, he impacted people as being presidential. While Palin is Obamaâ€™s equal, at least, on the celebrity measure, and she outmatched him on political experience and leadership when she was selected by John McCain, her botched roll-out by the McCain campaign left her tainted as intellectually lacking.
Any concerns about Obama were mitigated by his high-powered and focused educational background, while concerns over Palin were reinforced by her history as a collegiate drifter.
My first instinct was that Palinâ€™s resignation must be rooted in a desire to run for the U.S. Senate against Lisa Murkowski with a long-term strategy of gaining her chops on the mainland, putting off her presidential ambitions until she had filled in the gaps.
The chance to be in Washington would be the only justification for not digging in, ignoring the national stage, and proving herself to be worthy of the Presidency with a spectacular performance in Alaska, and a successful gubernatorial reelection effort. But Palinâ€™s once immense popularity has slid, with Murkowski now the more popular of the stateâ€™s leading ladies.
With a run against Murkowski next year appearing unlikely, Palinâ€™s decision to quit as governor must reflect a short-term strategy. Rather than seeking to sure up her weaknesses, Palin seems to be doubling down on her strengths, with a plan to escape Alaska and bask in the glory of being a super-charged media magnet.
As cyncial as one can be about the power of celebrity in our culture â€“ even when choosing a president â€“ Sarah Palinâ€™s decision to forgo the opportunity to improve her credibility by leading suggests that she views her celebrity as a more important commodity than the chance to be President.
Sheâ€™ll take the shot at the White House barring any personal mishaps or criminal/ethical issues â€“ and why not? But having had a shot at the biggest job in the world, rather than being ready for the position, will apparently be enough for the girl from Wasilla.
This article originally appeared on Real Clear Thinker.