Kathleen Parker

WASHINGTON -- When you're up to your waders in barracuda, blame the media.

And quit your job.

And say you did it for the people.

And hire an agent.

And try to keep a straight face.

On your way to the bank.

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, H.L. Mencken once said. Terribly elitist fellow, that Mencken. If only he were alive to witness the phenomenon of Sarah Palin, whose biography validates every cynical thought that ever found expression in his prolific prose.

Let's just say, Palin is in no danger of going broke. From her book contract alone, she never has to worry about money again, according to one close insider.

She may be politically dead -- "If I die, I die. So be it," as Palin recently put it -- but that likelihood depends on how one defines politics. In fact, adding mystery to confoundedness, Palin has enough supporters and fundraising potential to put a ground game in play in a matter of seconds. Just to toss in a sports metaphor, if I may.

Meanwhile, getting real, can we stop pretending that Palin is interested in anything other than her own ambition?

Can we also stop nodding assent every time she says the media are to blame for her self-inflicted wounds? The media invented Sarah Palin. Before the media shone their light on those no-place-like-home slippers, does anyone recall ever wondering what a governor of Alaska was up to?

Not that Alaska isn't a beautiful, wildlife- and resource-rich state. And not that we don't all admire the rugged, frontier spirit that makes Alaskans our kind of Americans. But it took the benighted East Coast media to put one Sarah Palin on the map of the lower 48.

There's nothing wrong with ambition, of course. No one gets to the White House or the Iditarod finish line without it. But claiming selfless virtue -- not to mention solidarity with wounded soldiers in Kosovo and Landstuhl -- over personal preference is a herring of a different color.

"Let's face it, she just doesn't really want to govern and she's doing what's best for her," said a Republican campaign strategist who has worked with Palin.


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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