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Post Politics: Sarah Palin, Obama in Russia, More

Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 6, 2009 11:00 AM

Post national politics writer Philip Rucker was online Monday, July 6 at 11 a.m. ET to discuss Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and the latest political news.

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Philip Rucker: Good morning, everyone. I'm here to chat for the next hour about all things politics -- from Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford to Congress and the White House. It's been a busy weekend in politics, so let's get started!

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Louisville, Ky.: Good morning, Philip. Thanks for taking questions. I'm very interested in Palin's decision to step down from power and return to her work as a family commercial fisherwoman. In my mind this seriously ranks her with Cincinnatus, the Roman general who gave up his dictatorship to return to his plowing, and with George Washington, who was a hero in the American Revolution, but gave up his presidential command over the young nation to return to his farm. Do you agree with my assessment? Don't you think that this brilliant move places Sarah Palin in the same league as George Washington and Cincinnatus?

Philip Rucker: There are lots of Palin questions, so let's start with this one. You raise an interesting point. I'm not sure I ever thought of Sarah Palin as a modern day George Washington or Cincinnatus.

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Phillies, PA!: Sarah Palin likes to use sports analogies. Well, here is one for her: a player never takes herself out of the game, ever. By quitting her job as governor of AK, Palin has essentially asked the coach to take her out of the game. Does anyone think she has a future as POTUS?

Philip Rucker: This is a good point. The fact that she is quitting her job as governor will be a part of her political narrative forever and could be problematic if she runs for president. After all, I don't believe a president has ever resigned because the mockery about the first family was too much to bear or because there were too many ethics questions swirling.

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Boston: Sarah Palin: I have seen a bunch of commentators railing against the media for their treatment of Ms. Palin. I believe that the media did their job in researching an unknown candidate and that Ms. Palin brought some of the criticism upon herself by trotting her kids on stage with her and keeping herself in the spotlight.

Philip Rucker: This is a fair point. There has been a huge amount of criticism -- mockery even -- of her children, but it's not as if she kept them off limits to the press. Bristol, 18, has become something of a regular on the talk show circuit, for instance.

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Arlington, Va.: So, was Palin just too thin-skinned and narcissistic to really survive national politics? Or apparently even Alaska politics? Some have suggested that with oil revenues down and tough times ahead for all states that she just couldn't come to terms with her ideas not working. Does that make sense?

Philip Rucker: It's absolutely a tough time to be governor in Alaska, as it is nearly everywhere else across the country. State revenues have been hit hard by the economic recession, which makes governing and balancing a budget very difficult. Add to that the fact that Sarah Palin's popularity in the state declined markedly since the fall presidential campaign and that many lawmakers in Juneau turned against her and you'll see why being governor lost some appeal.

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Des Peres, Mo.: Hey, Philip. What was your take on Gov. Palin's statement on Friday? Why do you think she chose a holiday weekend--poor political sense or shrewd political judgment? Hasn't she about exhausted her presidential hopes? Thanks.

Philip Rucker: The timing of Sarah Palin's announcement was very interesting. The national media had no advance warning and it fell on an observed national holiday. It was almost as if she just woke up and decided to resign and trotted out her makeshift lectern and delivered a speech.

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San Diego: It's a long story, but I just woke up from a three-week coma.

Anything interesting happen in the political world while I was out?

Philip Rucker: Let's see... yes!

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Washington, D.C.: Does Palin have anybody advising her on her political moves? If so, does she listen? To quit just because she's interested in a possible run for President is like saying "I can't focus on too many things at once", not something one would want in their potential president. And to me, it also really weakens her resume- it would read "Mayor of small town Alaska, governor for a partial term of Alaska"... that just doesn't seem too worthy of any kind of national office.

Philip Rucker: Sarah Palin has a small circle of political confidants and remains in touch with only a few staffers from the McCain campaign. Fred Malek, a veteran Republican money man in Washington, has been a big booster, as has DC lawyer John Coale, who helped her set up a PAC. She travels with a few aides, among them spokeswoman Meg Stapleton. But people close to Palin said she kept her decision to quit very close to her, discussing it with only her husband, Todd, and a couple others. As Coale told me, her brother didn't even know in advance.

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Arlington, Va.: Is Mitt Romney the big loser in all of this? Palin's base is ecstatic about her latest move and think it bodes well for her taking over the White House in 2012.

Philip Rucker: Actually, it seems like Mitt Romney may be a big winner following the events of the past month. Two leading GOP contenders for 2012 were knocked out of the ring for good by their infidelity -- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Sen. John Ensign (Nev.). Sure, he may have to deal with Palin, who remains popular among grassroots Republicans, but it is not at all clear that she plans to pursue the nomination in 2012.

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Arlington, Va.: The thing that amazes me the most with Sarah Palin's resignation is that even Karl Rove is outwardly perplexed by the announcement! This guy was the master of PR in the Bush years, so it must take a real humdinger to catch him offguard!

Philip Rucker: Indeed, most Republican strategists and veterans of presidential campaigns were shocked not just by her announcement but by her delivery.

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Boston: Every so often war heros are tapped to run for President- Washington, Grant & Eisenhower come to mind, and to a lesser extent, Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt. What's the chances of the Republicans goting after General Petraeus for 2012?

Philip Rucker: This is a very interesting possibility. I'm not sure General Petraeus has ever had ambitions to hold elected office, but we'll have to see.

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Maryland: So has Gov. Snaford sent a dozen roses to Palin yet? Her announcement sure took the spotlight off of him!

She may be coy aobut running for POTUS but I see her ending up on FOX.

Philip Rucker: Maybe Sanford sent a bottle of Argentine Malbec along with the roses. Palin's news definitely bumped Sanford from the news cycle over the weekend. Sanford spent the weekend with his wife and kids in Florida and his office said he would be back at work today, appearing in Charleston at a briefing with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Sen. Lindsey Graham.

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Falls Church, Va.: By resigning the governorship, how can Palin cite her experience as governor if she runs in 2012?

Philip Rucker: She'll have served about two and a half years as governor, which is not a lot of time, but she will always have that experience on her resume.

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Washington, DC: I'm a Republican who's not in Sarah Palin's division of the party, but I'm quite sad that the perception is that the politics of personal destruction, as practiced by the Maureen Dowds of the world, have triumphed. Somehow, calling George Bush "chimp" and Sarah Palin "Caribou Barbie" has become routine and accepted among the political elite.

Philip Rucker: It's important to note that these comments are usually made on the editorial pages by opinion journalists. I don't believe any news story in The Washington Post has ever referred to Sarah Palin as "Caribou Barbie."

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Poplar Bluff, Mo.: Philip, thanks for the chat. Do you know when Al Franken will be sworn in as Senator this week?

Philip Rucker: Al Franken is being sworn in today, I believe.

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Lizard Island: Sarah Palin has lived all her in remote parts of the US with small populations (Idaho, Alaska, briefly Hawaii), so perhaps her experience running for VP was a case of "How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm, after they've seen Paree?" Could it be that she's decided she wants the bright-lights-big city lifestyle, which is largely unattainable in Juneau and Wasilla?

Philip Rucker: Perhaps, but it's hard to imagine Sarah Palin and Todd would move their family out of Alaska.

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Philadelphia: How about the content of her resignation/quitting speech? I found it rambling, incoherent, dodgy, lame...etc. And, I'm getting sick and tired of the "was this a dumb move or an incredibly brilliant move" meme, arent' you?

Philip Rucker: Here's an opinion.

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Washington, D.C.: Is Sarah Palin legally allowed to quit? Alaskans voted for her to be governor not for the Lt. Gov. Could this be a sort of breach of contract? Has this ever happened before?

Philip Rucker: Yes, she is legally allowed to quit.

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RE:Lizard Is.: You said "Perhaps, but it's hard to imagine Sarah Palin and Todd would move their family out of Alaska. "

If she was (apparently) going to move to DC to become VP, why wouldn't she move out for the spotlight of a TV show & the HUGE paycheck that would come with it?

I think her loyalty is to herself not to her state.

Philip Rucker: You may be right.

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The real scoop: FOX News fall lineup: 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, tune in to Darn Tootin', an erratic and folksy examination of media and big socialist government with host Sarah "The Barracuda" Palin. Be prepared for great outfits and a lot of comma splices!

Philip Rucker: I don't think Sean Hannity would like this. That's his slot at 9!

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Job interview: So, Governor of Alaska for two and a half years. Vice Presidential candidate for how long? So, Mrs. Palin, oh excuse me, Gov. Palin, why did you leave your last job? May we call your references?

Philip Rucker: Another opinion.

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Louisville's "Interesting Point": The Palin/Cincinnatus analogy might work if Palin does indeed leave the political spotlight to return to Wasilla to the life of a fisherman. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that Palin's future will include more Fox News, book deals, and high price speaking engagements than fish.

Philip Rucker: I think you're probably right.

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The New Senator: The media focuses on his past as a comedian, but Franken was also an instructor at the KSG and quite the policy wonk.

Philip Rucker: Good point, and it appears Senator Franken will be trying hard to change his image from comedian to policy wonk and hard-working senator.

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Bethesda: Cincinnatus went back to farming after the war was over. George Washington stepped down from the Presidency AFTER 2 terms. Sarah Palin quite as governor of her state with lots of time left.

The comparison is completely ridiculous.

Philip Rucker: Another opinion.

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Washington: "but it's hard to imagine Sarah Palin and Todd would move their family out of Alaska."

Really? Why do you say that? I fully expect her to leave the boondocks. Did you expect her to resign? I think one thing we can expect is the unexpected. She'll figure out a way to claim Ohio as her home and then move there.

Philip Rucker: Perhaps you'll be right.

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Hamilton, Va.: In your article yesterday you stated Sarah Palin does not like to play the victim.

Are you kidding? Haven't you watched this whole Letterman nonsense. She plays the victim card as often as she can.

Poor Sarah and those meanies from the elitist MSM.

washingtonpost.com: Weary Palin Sought to Regain Control

Philip Rucker: My piece from Sunday was a survey of people close to her and the explanations they gave for her resignation. The victim point is one that people close to her stressed, that she wanted to regain control of her own narrative and protect her family.

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Alexandria, Va.: I've seen a lot of adjectives used to describe Palin's resignation - foolish, crazy, confusing. But one that I haven't seen is IRRESPONSIBLE. She was given the responsibility to lead Alaska by its citizens and she abandoned them for her own selfish motivations (whatever they may be). What if she had done this as vice president? If she attempts to enter the fray in 2012 irresponsible is the first attack I'd use against her as an opponent.

Philip Rucker: This very well may be an attack leveled against her. It is different to resign to move on to a new elected position (i.e. had she been elected vice president) than to just quit because you don't like the job anymore.

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Arlington, Va.: Given that President Obama is in Russia at the moment, I wonder if he can see Sarah Palin's house from there?

Philip Rucker: Our time is up and there are lots of questions left over. I'm sorry I can't get to them all. But I'll end with an answer to this one. I don't know if Obama can see Palin's house, or if Palin can see Air Force One on the runway in Moscow from her house.

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