Last night I did a very unusual thing. I was in the room while CNN was on and I watched Sarah Palin’s goodbye-for-now press conference. It was unusual because a) I don’t watch television and b) I especially don’t watch European and American news television. So, it was an unusual event for me, and, obviously an unusual event for Ms. Palin, the residents of Alaska, the Republican Party and the American political scene as a whole.
I had actually never seen Ms. Palin speak before. Fortuitously, we have been out of the country for the last two presidential election cycles, although we did vote in each. Consequently, I missed the cut-and-thrust of the campaign, including the entire Sarah Palin saga.
So, to me, she came across as someone who, at a minimum, should have chosen decaf yesterday rather than leaded. I’m not sure if she is normally that fragmented and borderline ADD or just when she resigns from power with 18 months left in her term.
I’ll leave all the discussion of motivations, hidden agendas and conspiracies to all the pundits, talking heads and everyone else with nothing better to do.
Instead of her individual act and its implications, what struck me was what the American hyper-partisan political process does to the people who engage in it, and what that implies for the United States and its citizens. By that I mean what is striking about this is not that she is, presumably walking away, but who remains.
Who remains, who survives the meat grinder that passes as the electoral process, are the people who have such a thirst, such a lust for power, that they will subject their friends, families, and themselves to anything as long as it means that they individually achieve and retain power.
That’s who runs the states and the country. That’s who makes the laws, establishes policy and interacts with the rest of the world–the surviving narcissists, power hungry, and glory seekers.
Is that the best we can do?