If Sarah Palin truly does plan to stay in politics, her resignation speech should have been a memorable philosophical statement akin to Ronald Reagan's speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential campaign. The Gipper's speech was an eloquent and enduring summation of his political philosophy and while it did little to help his candidate, it catapulted him onto the national political stage and laid out his governing vision. It was known among his staff simply as "the speech" and he would give variations of it for the rest of his career.
If Palin's speech proves memorable, it will be in the way that Richard Nixon's 1962 "You won't have Nixon to kick around any more" speech endures. Palin's resignation speech was a strange hodgepodge, a mix of self-congratulatory horn-tooting, sound-bites and catch-phrases, unexplained political shorthand references ("that liberal 9th circuit!") and awkward ad-libs that left the impression of someone of such towering hubris that she did not think something so mundane as practicing the speech was necessary. When message is secondary to messenger practice may seem a waste of precious time. But Palin would do well to learn a lesson from the Great Commmunicator: Reagan made speech-giving look easy because he was a great natural talent, but also because he worked very hard at it and practiced a great deal. As I recount in White House Ghosts, would sit in the Oval Office as TV crews were setting up around him and quietly re-read his speech.
Political success is about hard work and working hard. And progress is made through compromise. But in Friday's speech Palin dismissed hard work and compromise as … the quitter's way out. "Life is too short to compromise time and resources," she said. "It may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: 'Sit down and shut up,' but that's the worthless, easy path; that's a quitter's way out."
In politics people talk about work-horses and show-horses, the former being those who get things done and the latter being those who preen in front of the cameras. Palin, incredibly, proudly declared herself a show-horse. As TPM's David Kurtz neatly summed it up: "Quitters stick to it. Winners quit."
Or as Hot Air's Ed Morrissey put it in his stunned, angry must-read post: "No one leads by quitting. No one leads by quitting." Morrissey describes the Palin decision as "easily the most bizarre resignation I've seen, and just about senseless." I commend his whole post as he dismantles Palin's stated reasons point by damning point. He concludes: "She has destroyed her own credibility in a single day. I liked Sarah Palin and supported her inclusion on the GOP ticket last fall. I thought she had more toughness than this. It’s a big disappointment, and it’s the end of any hope of Palin getting taken seriously as a politician on the national level in the future." Like, I said, the whole thing is worth a read.