The Plank

Que Sarah, Sarah

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Former Sarah Palin booster (and TNR alum) Reihan Salam has had enough:

Palin’s campaign antics can be forgiven. What can’t be forgiven is the ham-handed way she’s tried to build her national profile since she returned to Alaska. She’s abandoned the bold right-left populism that won over Alaska votersand mein the first place in favor of an increasingly defensive and harsh partisanship. After making her name as a determined enemy of Alaska’s corrupt Republican establishment, she recently called for Democratic Sen. Mark Begich to step down so the hilariously crooked Ted Stevens could get another crack at the seat. She loudly promised to leave federal stimulus money on the table before clawing that promise back with a whimper. One can’t help but get the impression that Palin is a clownish, vindictive amateur.

Now, for example, Palin is raising hackles for naming colorful crackpot Wayne Anthony Ross to be Alaska’s attorney general. It turns out that Palin may have consulted with Ross over a state senate appointment, a move that would have been against state law. As a general matter, state law is something you might want your AG to be on top of.

Reihan doesn't even delve into the comical details of the state senate appointment itself, in which Palin has been feuding with Democrats and Republicans alike and has tried--twice!--to fill the seat, which by law must go to a Democrat, with candidates who converted from the GOP just weeks ago specifically in order to be eligible for the appointment.

Perhaps the most mystifying element of Palin's recent forays into nuttery is that, politically speaking, it would be difficult to come up with stupider way to position herself in the wake of her v.p. run. The base already loves her--the diehard pro-lifers, the hands-off-mine individualists, the anti-elitist brigades, you name 'em. Where she has (deepening) trouble is with everyone else: moderates, socially liberal libertarians, DC-establishment types, and anyone who places a premium on basic competence.

The obvious, obvious play for her was to move to the center to reassure moderates that she wasn't her far-right caricature and reestablish some of the different-kind-of-Republican glow that once attracted reformist conservatives such as Reihan. Instead, she's been performing partisan panders so acrobatic they'd embarrass Mitt Romney--who, unlike Palin, actually needs to build credibility on the right. Whoever is advising her these days--assuming she's taking anyone's advice at all--is hammering early nails into the coffin of her future prospects.

--Christopher Orr
 

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