After weeks of silence, the woman who made the phrase “Don’t Retreat, Reload” a battle cry for American politicians in a way that changed the political landscape of these times has officially marked her decision to fade into the shadows to wage her personal fight with her estranged husband.
New Alaska Superior Court filings indicate Sarah Palin – the former, half-term, 49th-state governor who became far better known as a Republican polebrity on the frontlines of this decade’s culture wars – is not going quietly into her new life but is, for the first time, trying to keep it quiet.
A counter-claim against husband Todd’s request for a divorce was filed under seal this week.
“Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” a short-lived reality show, will apparently not be brought back to life to document the split of Alaska’s best-known politician and her snowmachine-racing hubby. A four-time winner of Alaska’s Iron Dog, the world’s longest and toughest snowmobile race, Todd quietly and cagily filed for divorce on Sept. 6, his 55th birthday.
The silence from Sarah has been deafening since the mysterious divorce filing for TMP v. SHP” was first reported here two days later. An attorney for Todd shortly thereafter admitted that he was TMP and SHP was his famous wife, but both sides have asked the court to keep filings secret.
Having helped turn the country’s politics into a family feud gone badly wrong, having set the stage for the bitter battles between Trump and anti-Trump forces that now dominate the daily news cycle, having seen how ugly these things can get, the Palins appear to be trying to keep details of their split out of the public eye.
This is a sea change for family has both teased and courted the media since Sarah resigned as governor on the eve of Independence Day 2009 saying “I love Alaska this much…that I feel it is my duty to avoid the unproductive, typical, politics as usual, lame-duck session in one’s last year in office. How does that benefit you? No, with this decision now, I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right, for truth. And I have never felt like you need a title to do that.”
The resignation just months after Sarah became nationally famous as a “pitbull with lipstick” during a run for the vice-presidency on the 2008 Republican ticket with Sen. John McCain left most of the political establishment baffled.
The lamestream media, as Sarah preferred to call the journalists who’d documented the ’08 campaign, almost immediately began speculating the resignation meant she was preparing to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 , needed a higher paying job in order to pay legal bills tied to the many ethics complaints filed against her as governor, or might be pregnant for the sixth time.
“Is there anything going on with her that perhaps may lead her to want to make this decision, and the one thing that’s still left out there is, hey, could she be pregnant again?” CNN’s Rick Sanchez wondered.
It was the beginning of wild speculation that would for the next several years follow Sarah and the family she often used for props. By 2011, the media was madly chasing a Palin-family motorhome vacation on the East Coast that Sarah had labeled her “One Nation” tour of U.S. historic sites.
Some were sure it was the start of a run for president. It wasn’t, but it did entertain with Sarah’s particular form of chaos.
At a stop in Boston, she paid tribute to Paul Revere, “he who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, uh, by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free and we were going to be armed.”
A national debate immediately erupted as to what had actually happened on Revere’s historic ride to warn American revolutionaries of a coming British attack in 1775 and what Sarah was trying to say when she mangled the king’s English.
National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” devoted an entire segment to “How Accurate Were Palin’s Paul Revere Comments?” It did not go so well when Robert Allison, a professor and historian at Suffolk University, read a defense of the Second Amendment into Sarah’s comments and suggested that while Revere wasn’t ringing any bells, he might have set others to ringing church bells to warn the British to stay away.
The transcript of the discussion reflects host Mellisa Block asking, “Are there other historians, Professor, whom you’ve talked with who say you’re being entirely too charitable towards Sarah Palin here, and she really did misread American…
Trump’s role model
No one knew it at the time, but Sarah was the lightning rod that would provide the target for the fury of the Donald J. Trump thunderstorm still raging today. The smaller storm Sarah eventually decayed into a squall, but not before she’d pulled much of the family into the limelight with “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” “Real American Stories with Sarah Palin,” “On Point With Sarah Palin,” “The Daily Ledger with Sarah Palin;” and a variety of shows featuring Todd and daughter Bristol, a second runner up on the wildly popular “Dancing with the Stars.
Along the way, Sarah put her gunsights – literally – on those with whom she politically disagreed and changed the way Americans thought about politics. A Palin political action committee named SarahPAC in late 2010 pushed a national campaign against Democrat candidates in 20 U.S. Congressional candidates that marked their districts with gunsights on a map.
When one of those candidates, Rep. Gabriele Giffords, was shot in early 2011, the crap hit the fan.
“…Sarah Palin has found herself in the crosshairs of the ensuing political debate with opponents suggesting she may have fueled the gunman’s rage and her supporters saying it is ‘grotesque’ to blame her and to politicize the tragedy,” ABC News’ John Berman reported at the time.
“One thing is clear, Palin, who has been at the center of so much of the political discourse and discussion the last two years, is right back in the center, you might even say the crosshairs, whether she wants to be there or not.”
Palin did not back down.
“Sarah Palin proved she’s unafraid of using the sort of violent imagery that liberals chastised her for in the wake of the shooting of…Giffords 18 months ago, using words like “fight” and “reload” late Friday night in order to rally conservative bloggers in their war on the ‘lamestream media,'” The Hollywood Report recorded in June.
“Palin slammed CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS and other major news outlets for dereliction of duty by obsessing over her and her family members during her run for vice president while not bothering even to read then-Sen. Barack Obama’s autobiography.”
She only amended her early advice to say “Don’t retreat – reload and re-fight.”
The re-fighting has been underway with increasing intensity on both sides of the country’s political divide ever since, but Sarah has now apparently decided some battles are best hashed out in private where compromise is sometimes, but not always, easier.