Palin’s propensity for quitting

On Thursday, Nov. 27, Sarah Palin began a 5k charity run called the Turkey Trot in Kennewick, Washington. On the same day, she quit a 5k charity run before the finish line to avoid troublesome paparazzi. Though the locals saw nothing wrong with this spotty behavior, liberal bloggers across the nation sat up and asked the question, “Why is Sarah Palin always quitting?”

She officially stepped down as governor of Alaska in July 2009. But in reality, Sarah Palin effectively quit governing the day she accepted her position as John McCain’s running mate. Politics and governing are two different things. They’re two different obsessions, two different jobs, two different states of mind, and they are mutually exclusive.

Politics are volatile, inconstant, erratic. It’s no small wonder that Palin returned home to a resentful mélange of Democrats and Republicans. Small wonder that her legislative abilities – never powerful – lapsed into ineptness. If there’s one thing a self-proclaimed small-town everywoman such as Palin should know, it’s that small towns do not appreciate ambition.

And though Palin may have disguised that ambition with nationalistic rhetoric, my guess is that the small-town Alaskan gossips weren’t fooled. Sarah Palin ran her political career under the slogan of maverick. She called herself an outsider, a new face. This campaign got Palin elected first as mayor, then as governor, so the idea that it might work for the presidential bid was no sizeable leap of logic.

But while Palin was an outsider to Anchorage politics, she was very much an insider to Alaska. Alaska is a unique state. It’s detached, swathed in natural beauty and, by New York standards, all of its cities are small towns. What’s more, it’s small enough to be able to lay claim to one single Alaskan culture.

But when it comes to the lower 48, Palin was an outsider in every form and fashion. As a politician, Palin ought to have seen that being an outsider isn’t necessarily all good. She was an outsider to Washington politicians whose support she desperately needed. She was an outsider to the university students, the Californians, the New Yorkers, the new-age free souls.
And, by the end, she was an outsider to Alaska. Palin’s foray into the national spotlight changed her. She campaigned for governor of Alaska as an outsider from the inside; she returned to Alaska as an insider from the outside.

And she found the challenge of fitting back in too much to handle. Palin quit the Turkey Trot because she had started the day as a celebrity, and she couldn’t finish it as ordinary. She stepped down from the privileged position of average when she gave her acceptance speech as McCain’s running mate – she just hasn’t realized that yet.