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Bonkers in Alaska

Beth Quinn

Barrack Obama proved, finally, that anyone can grow up to be president. Sarah Palin, however, proved him wrong. Happily, lunatics are still not able to win the White House.

Sometimes presidents turn into lunatics while living in the Booby Hatch Capital of the World (Richard Nixon is a case in point), but Americans are still reluctant to make a national leader of someone who proves herself bonkers before even running.

She certainly appeared to be a certifiable maniac last Friday when she announced that she was quitting her governor job because ... well, basically because she's not a dead fish:

"And a problem in our country today is apathy," she explained at her hastily called press conference. "It would be apathetic to just hunker down and go with the flow. Nah, only dead fish go with the flow. No. Productive, fulfilled people determine where to put their efforts, choosing to wisely utilize precious time ... to BUILD UP."

Among the many mysteries as to what she meant by this, I confess I wasn't aware that dead fish ‘go with the flow.' I thought they kind of ‘float up to the surface and stink.' But then, I am not a fisherperson. Perhaps it's common in tackle shops to say, "Only dead fish go with the flow."

Perhaps there are even little wooden signs with those words carved into them that the rod and reel crowd hang on the wall in their fishing huts. (If any of you are in the know about this, please tell me. I'd hate to be unfair here.)

But I digress. The speculation, of course, is that Alaska's rogue maverick diva is stepping down in order to make a full-time job of preparing for a presidential run in 2012. For Tina Fey's sake, I hope so. She must be devastated.

But on the off chance that anyone who isn't a comedian thinks electing a President Palin is great idea, a little review of the past eight months might be in order:

She trotted her children, all named after imaginary things or sporting events or math functions, onto the public stage at the Republican Convention, where they sat, glassy-eyed, looking like refuges from the Village of the Damned. And that high school hockey player dude was sitting there, too -- Levi Johnston -- almost visibly praying the rosary that Sarah the Lunatic would lose the election so he wouldn't have to marry the very pregnant Bristol and have Sarah for a mother-in-law. Then, of course, the vice presidential hopeful got upset when the press wrote about her kids. Children should be off limits! she screeched. Indeed they should, Mom.

In an interview on CNBC last July she announced her confusion about the duties of the job she was aspiring to: "As for that VP talk all the time, I'll tell you, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day?"

Speaking to students in Wasilla last June, she revealed her understanding of God's role in our invasion of Iraq: "Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending soldiers out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan." She was sort of right about one thing. It would have been useful if there had been a plan.

When asked by Katie Couric during that disastrous interview last September what newspaper or magazine she reads, she was unable to name a single periodical: "All of 'em, any of 'em that have been in front of me over all these years."

She also revealed to Katie that she has a lot of foreign policy experience due to being able to see Russia on a clear day. And, who knew? She revealed at a fundraiser last fall that Afghanistan is also located pretty close to Alaska: "They are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan." (Apparently, she can see bin Laden's former cave from her house on a clear day, too.)

Then there's her lack of clarity on the abortion issue. She THINKS she's against abortion, but in fact she's pro-choice. At a recent Right to Life fundraiser, she described in great detail the fact that she considered an abortion when she found out she was pregnant at the age of 44, then again when she learned the baby she was carrying had Down syndrome. In the end, she chose to have the baby, not abort it. Bully for her. That was, apparently the right choice for her. But, oh Saaaarah ... that's called Choice. My two kids could be named Choice One and Choice Two. The fact that I chose to have them doesn't make me anti-abortion, you moron. It just means I chose to have them -- just like you.

There is so much more, but I'll move on now to last Friday when, in her rousing Tour de Force of Incoherence, she further explained her reason for quitting Alaska by announcing: "I choose to work very hard on a path for fruitfulness and productivity. I choose not to tear down and waste precious time, but to build up this state and our country and her industrious, generous, patriotic free people!!!!!"

Evidently, this fruitfulness can only happen if she's not a governor.

Now that I think of it, perhaps we should encourage her to run for president in 2012. Having Sarah Palin as the Republican candidate might well be the best thing that ever happened to the Democratic party. And it would sure keep Tina Fey happy.

p.s. If you haven't already done so, read Maureen Dowd's July 8 column, Sarah's Secret Diary. Very, very funny. And scary.

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Beth can be reached at

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