Conservatives at odds over Palin

Opinion leaders on the right are divided over the governor's announcement that she intends to resign

By Alex Koppelman
Published July 6, 2009 7:10PM (UTC)
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Rush Limbaugh's still very confident in Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, even after she announced that she'll be resigning at the end of this month. In a call to a conservative blogger, the radio talker said:

I don't think this precludes her running for office down the road, the Presidency, in 2012, at all. I think these people saying she's an instant target because she quit is just inside-the-Beltway formulaic. And she's not that .... [I]t boils down to this. When you have so many establishment types, inside the Beltway, establishment, elitist types .... just so eager to destroy this woman, it means they're still scared to death of her, and that to me, is the bottom line.

This theme, that liberals and establishment types are "scared to death" of Palin, has been a pretty consistent one among Palin's supporters since the governor announced her decision on Friday. But not everyone's buying it. Indeed, some of the country's most prominent conservatives are sounding as perplexed as everyone else, and almost as sure this won't end well for her.


Former Bush advisor Karl Rove, still one of the Republican Party's best political minds, has his doubts. In an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace on Sunday, Rove said he thinks the move will hurt Palin's chances if she does decide to run for president:

When you're a sitting governor, you have the tactical advantage if you're think about running for president of turning down a lot of things with an excuse that people will accept -- "I've got a job to do as governor."

She's now removed that. So now the expectations are going to be she's going to be fully available, she's going to be able to come to the lower 48 and she's going to be able to do whatever people ask her to do. And that's going to be a problem. It raises the expectations.

It's also unclear what her strategy is. Again, she said she wanted to lead effective change outside of government. Well, now people are going to be saying what is it that you mean by that? And how are you demonstrating effective leadership for change around America?

.... I'm a fan of Sarah Palin's, but it -- the effective strategies in politics are ones that are so clear and obvious that people can grasp it. It is not clear what her strategy here is by exiting the governorship two and a half years through the term and putting herself on a national stage that she may not yet be prepared to operate in.

Even the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes, who has been a staunch defender of Palin's and works with Bill Kristol, one of her strongest supporters, is skeptical of the move. He began an article on the governor's decision to resign by writing:

Forget about Sarah Palin as the Republican presidential candidate in 2012 and probably ever. She may have no interest in seeking the GOP nomination. But if she does, her chances of winning the nomination have been minimized by her decision to resign as governor of Alaska. She's knocked out one of three legs of the presidential stool and a second one is wobbly.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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