The Palin Resignation: Meta-Working Mom or Quitter?

by Meredith O’Brien

 

Sarah Palin is, as Time Magazine’s Nancy Gibbs said, “a Technicolor Rorschach test.” What you think about her depends largely upon from which perspective you see the world.

 

If you’re a liberal Democrat, she’s an abomination, from her positions on public policies, to the perception that the only reason she was picked as John McCain’s “maverick” running mate was because she’s got mega sex appeal. If you’re a conservative Republican, you might like her small government approach, along with her gun-totin’-lipsticked-hockey-mom attitude and quirky, winking “you betcha” anti-elitist style. People who are of the mind that a mom with a young child (or children) should be at home with them, think she abdicated her role as mother by accepting McCain’s offer to crisscross the country campaigning. (It should be noted that the male candidates with small kids and/or a baby at home didn’t find their paternal competency questioned.) Journalists and political pundits remain appalled at how she flounders during interviews and how she rambles during public appearances, all of which were satirized with aplomb by Tina Fey.

 

So when this woman stunned everyone by calling it quits after two-and-a-half years as Alaska’s governor in order to pursue an ambiguous future, the reaction to her decision was all over the map depending on the prism through which people perceive her and why they think she’s leaving.

 

Palin defenders have been trying to make the case that this is a genius move which will enable her to rebuild her tarnished image and freely travel in the lower 48 states without sparking more ethics investigations and scrutiny. (Palin cited the distraction of the more than a dozen ethics investigations of her in Alaska -- which she said cost the state $2 million and her family $500,000 -- as the chief reason for her resignation.) One conservative commentator likened her resignation to a potentially savvy chess maneuver, the first one in the 2012 GOP presidential race.

 

Palin haters, however, don’t buy her I’m-sparing-the-state-from-more-ethics-investigations-and-distractions line, call her reasons bogus and add that she’s nuts if she thinks she can run for president after quitting halfway through her term. They emphasize the oddities in her July 3 speech, including the bit about how only dead fish “go with the flow.” Pragmatic Republican party folks, who now see her as a GOP-damaging loose cannon, have been secretly (or not so secretly) cheering her departure from the scene.

mommydixon
07.15.09

If Alaska is better off without her, then so is America.

jehanalnoor
07.15.09

I have to agree with the mom's above who say that Palin's resignation makes sense to them. I too have suffered the slings and arrows of a lying boss who decided I was a threat and did everything in her power to make my life a living hell. The unfounded ethics complaints have done the same (though on a much more massive scale) to Palin. I don't blame her for leaving the job, since she cannot get anything done anyway and she is costing her state millions defending herself.
The other disturbing thing about the Sarah Palin case is that women in this country have shown us all how much farther we have to come. We are like crabs in a bucket in this country, but we women are the worst offenders. One rises above the fray and instead of buoying her up and celebrating her success, we tear women like Palin apart. She has taught women in this country allot and will continue to do so if we are lucky. Perhaps women in the U.S. should focus on how lucky we are in this nation instead of focusing on tearing one another down.

Samantha
07.15.09

I am NOT at peace with Palin. She claimed that Alaska was "a microcosm of america".
How many blacks and hispanics are living up there? "Real America" is her euphemism
for racist whites and as Frank Rich so aptly put it last Sunday in the NYTimes, "she puts
a happy, sexy face on ugly emotions." The only thing that makes me feel ok about all
this is that her constituents are shrinking in numbers over the last couple of years and
the Republicans are getting desperate. If she's the best thing they have to offer than they're
in bigger trouble than they know. But if this economy doesn't turn around the tides could turn
and that's what they're counting on.

Anyway, ranting. Sorry but its your fault for having a smart website.

Samantha
07.15.09

I am NOT at peace with Palin. She claimed that Alaska was "a microcosm of america".
How many blacks and hispanics are living up there? "Real America" is her euphemism
for racist whites and as Frank Rich so aptly put it last Sunday in the NYTimes, "she puts
a happy, sexy face on ugly emotions." The only thing that makes me feel ok about all
this is that her constituents are shrinking in numbers over the last couple of years and
the Republicans are getting desperate. If she's the best thing they have to offer than they're
in bigger trouble than they know. But if this economy doesn't turn around the tides could turn
and that's what they're counting on.

Anyway, ranting. Sorry but its your fault for having a smart website.

SFORDMom
07.15.09

I loved the piece regarding Palin, but I can't seem to get away from Palin's inadequacy as a politician. For instance, she published article in the Washington Post on July 14th indicating she is against "cap and trade" (www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/13/AR2009071302852...) though was strongly for "cap and trade" in the McCain/Palin campaign (www.seethroughthepodium.org/issues/climate/environment_mccain.pdf). I understand if she has chosen to step away from her job perhaps to focus on her family and other aspirations, but she remains to be a monkey around the neck of the Republican party should she continue to babble on without consistent political positions. Thanks again for the thoughtful article addressing the hot topic of Palin!

madtortuga
07.15.09

I once quit a job in a situation that reminds me of the justifications given in Palin's speech. I had a new boss, he believed untrue complaints about me, an outside investigator was peppering my employer about anonymous (and completely fabricated) complaints that I had abused sick leave... and, in the midst of swimming upstream through of all this, a voice in my head said, "this is not your life." I realized that fighting for my reputation amongst such pettiness was irrelevant to who I was and I walked away from the job - and into a much better one - within a week.

That was how I took Palin's resignation - at her word - for she said that the office was becoming focused too much on her and not on the well-being of her state. "It's about Alaska, stupid," could be the shorthand headline summing her decision.

Older, now, with kids, I understand her explanation even more clearly. Moms just don't have time to deal with anything that isn't a priority... and really, how can fighting ethics charges that you believe are concocted be anyone's priority? Whether her priorities are in fact her family, national politics, or a blend of the two remains to be seen, but with this decision, at least that outcome is in her hands.

miteypen
07.15.09

This is a little off-topic, but I had to comment on this: "Bristol Palin talked to People Magazine about how hard it is to be a teenage mother and said that if other girls understood the difficulties, they’d never have sex." I suppose if boys understood that they could be forced to pay child support, they'd never have sex either. Right.

dgisola7
07.15.09

I would like to know why anyone thinks she would get a fair shake on any decision she makes? I have watched Joe Biden make bumbling and downright embarrassing remarks that she would have been crucified for -- branded a "dumb hockey Mom," or a "stupid slutty airline attendant -- (oh, I'm sorry she was already called these things). Do I think she is a quitter? There's a difference, in my opinion, between taking your ball and going home and saying -- you know what this game is old and I want a new one, and I want to make the rules for it. If she feels she can't make a difference in Alaska because her head has been on a plate (which it has, admit it) I think she should take charge and do what she feels is right. No matter what she does she has a target painted on her -- so she may as well do as she pleases. Anyone who is honest, and can put politics aside has to say she has not been treated fairly (nor was Hilary, for that matter). While we have been able to elect the first African American President -- a proud moment for the country -- unfortunately at the same time we unveiled a very ugly truth about sexism in this country.

aimpell
07.15.09

I have been having the same thoughts about Sarah Palin. My feelings for Sarah Palin throughout the past several months, like many others, have ranged from confusion to admiration to outrage. I truly wonder whether she is in fact "opting out" as I wrote in my own on-line column last week. Thanks for the thought-provoking take on this controversial woman's latest confusing move.

-Amy
NY Working Moms Examiner
http://www.examiner.com/x-9243-NY-Working-Moms-Examiner