WOMAN TO WOMAN: Debate buzzes on why Palin left her office

Has Sarah Palin destroyed her political future? Andrea Sarvady, a left-leaning columnist, writes the commentary this week, and Shaunti Feldhahn, a right-leaning columnist, responds.

Andrea Sarvady
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (We can still call her that, right?) shocked the nation by announcing her imminent (and eminent) resignation after less than one term in office. I was actually more shocked by whom she addressed in a sarcastic tone as she abandoned her post: those who choose to stick out their commitments.
“I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks … travel around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade,” Palin explained with that same snarky tone that made her the darling of the Republican National Convention. “Then I thought: That’s what’s wrong – many just accept that lame-duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck and ‘milk it.’ I’m not putting Alaska through that.”
Oh, how noble of her, drawing a line in the snow on behalf of the good citizens of Alaska. Gee, I hate to bring up logic during this made-for-prime-time moment, but doesn’t this mean that anyone winning a second term should immediately resign as well?
I might understand if Alaska had already been burnished to perfection. Heck, I might move there. Yet from shepherding affordable energy projects to improving a dismal health care ranking, there are many programs a lame-duck governor could sink her teeth into, perhaps even more effectively when not worrying about political repercussions in the next governor’s race.
Instead, Sarah Barracuda seems to have put her teeth in a jar for reasons that look far more beneficial to her pocketbook than her state. She’s confirmed that a book deal is high on her list of post-quitting plans – a project that’s guaranteed to give the Palin legal fund some much needed stimulus.
A less understandable move since breaking her promise to her constituents is making promises to anyone else who will have her. Palin is now talking about campaigning for candidates of both parties who share her views on government, defense and energy independence. Sounds good to me, but does it sound like the future of the GOP to you?
Palin may live in the farthest corner of our nation but she’s all over the map these days, as well as all over the news. Do her unpredictable and contradictory stands make for great television? You betcha. Yet as for her future in politics, I’m reminded, once again, of that famous Bridge to Nowhere …

Shaunti Feldhahn
Like many who appreciate Sarah Palin, I was discouraged when I first saw the news about her announcement – because I bought the media spin. That lasted until I researched the facts. (I should never have assumed the mainstream news would report on Palin accurately. After all, these same “news” outlets aired Tina Fey clips so frequently that 87 percent of those polled by Zogby actually believe Palin said she could see Alaska from her house.)
The reality is that Palin has done something few other high-level elected officials have been willing to do: step down from a role she deeply cares about, for the good of her constituents and family. If she can get that message out accurately, the average American will find her even more compelling.
People must understand the untenable situation created by the frivolous ethics complaints filed against Palin since the election – 19 and counting. Under Alaska’s flawed law, any citizen can file a complaint against anything – which Palin-haters have been systematically doing – and each must be investigated. (One liberal blogger, for example, filed because Palin wore a coat by the manufacturer who sponsors her husband!)
Researching, investigating and administrating these claims has cost Alaska $2 million with no end in sight. As Palin told The New York Times, “We spend most of our day – my staff, a lot of the members of the Department of Law and myself – dealing with things that have nothing to do with policy or governance.”
According to Pam Pryor, the spokeswoman for SarahPAC, Palin felt the only honorable course open to her was to step down. Pryor told me:
“She made this decision for all the right reasons. She can’t turn around without having an expensive ethics violation filed against her. And she doesn’t want to put the state through that. She also chose this for her family. No other politician’s children have been fair game the way her children have.”
Going forward, Pryor said: “I don’t think she needs a title, but I don’t think she’ll shirk the opportunities that come her way. She’s unconventional and she’s political, without having a soul that is guided by politics. She has an uncanny sense of who she is and I think you will see a lot more of her, not less.”

Andrea Sarvady (ASarvad@gmail.com) is a writer and educator specializing in counseling, and a married mother of three. Shaunti Feldhahn (scfeldhahn@yahoo.com) is a conservative Christian author and speaker, and married mother of two children. Contact them at Universal Press, 130 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo. 64106.

Andrea Sarvady & Shaunti Feldhahn