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No Sympathy Here

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Unlike Chris Orr, I have utterly no sympathy for Sarah Palin, despite the fact that her interviews and occasional public statements have meandered into the realm of the exquisite corpse. Mike Riggs wonders if some liberals — like Orr — no longer view Palin as a “potent potential threat” and are thus more inclined to “treat her like a human being.” I’ll admit that it’s difficult to watch someone crash and burn in a nationally-televised interview for which she’s presumably had weeks to prepare, but the idea that Sarah Palin no longer represents a source of concern for Democrats is — or should be — nonsensical.

She remains the vice presidential candidate in a closely-contested race that is, politically speaking, a thousand miles from a conclusion. Though I’m temporarily buoyed by the fact that John McCain appears at the moment to be on the downward slope of a dissociative fugue, I’d be an idiot to think he didn’t have a decent chance of actually winning and launching a fake reformer with transparently shitty policy views down the hall from him in the White House. And while John McCain likes to compare himself, implausibly, to Teddy Roosevelt, in terms of his physical health he’s probably more closely affiliated with Konstantin Chernenko. All of which raises the obvious concerns about Palin, who is matchlessly unsuited for high office.

But here’s the thing about Palin that’s worth remembering. She didn’t as Orr puts it, need to “plucked from obscurity” by the McCain campaign. She could have done the sensible thing and refused the offer. She had no shortage of plausible excuses — spanning the personal as well as the political — to maintain a lower national profile and not accept an opportunity for which any Alaskan with half a brain (even, I assure you, her boosters in the legislature) understood she would be catastophically unprepared. She could have remained an immensely (if in my view undeservedly) popular governor who would likely have cruised to re-election in 2010; she might have looked forward to challenging Mark Begich for US Senate in 2014 or, Christ forbid, she could have followed an acquitted and re-elected Ted Stevens into the same office. Or she might have campaigned for the state’s only seat in the US House someday when Don Young either retires or begins a new career as a license-plate presser in federal prison. Or she could have challenged Ethan Berkowitz, who looks like a good bet to defeat Young this year but who is, at bottom, a Democrat in a state that would happily replace him with a Republican if they could find one who wasn’t, you know, a criminal.

The point is, Palin had alternatives. The point is, she made what appears to be a terrible error in judgment by fastening her political future to the clown-stuffed volkswagon otherwise known as “John McCain’s campaign.” Maybe Jesus told her to do this. Maybe she’s incapable of recognizing her limits. I don’t know, and for now I don’t really care. For now, she’s the candidate for vice president on a ticket that’s plainly undeserving of anyone’s sympathy, so I see nothing to be gained by offering it.

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