Palin's Bold New Career Move: A Slam Dunk?

July 07, 2009|By Ben Krull

"A good point guard drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her eye on the basket ... and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can win."

- Gov. Sarah Palin, July 3, 2009

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced today that she will play point guard for the WNBA's New York Liberty after leaving the governor's mansion. The governor wrote on her Facebook page that she chose to play for the Liberty "because they are all about the freedom that gives us the liberty to be the great country that America is."

At a press conference in the Wasilla high school gymnasium, where she helped the school's 1982 girls basketball team win the Alaska state championship, Governor Palin tried to draw an analogy between her current and future jobs. "A good governor protects herself from the press and other media elite, by keeping her eye on the White House ... and she knows exactly when to resign so that she can win her party's presidential nomination," the governor said.

When pressed by reporters about what her role on the Liberty would be, the governor reached back to her vice presidential campaign. "I've always been strong on national defense and ran with John McCain who fought to defend New York's liberty. And I learned from him and Ronald Reagan that playing good defense and defending our liberty is the key to victory," she told reporters.

Political observers were divided on how the governor's latest career move would affect her presidential hopes.

Republican political strategist Ed Rollins suggested that she is taking a big risk. "If she suffers an injury that puts her on the disabled list, it will reinforce the idea that she is a quitter," Mr. Rollins wrote in an e-mail message.

But conservative columnist Bill Kristol was optimistic about Governor Palin's political future. "This will allow her to travel the country and spread her message of a strong defense and lower ticket prices," Mr. Kristol told Fox News.

Governor Palin's biggest challenge may be winning over her Liberty teammates, who only agreed to speak to reporters anonymously.

"We all voted for Obama," one player said. "She couldn't get elected team vice-captain around here."

Another Liberty player doubted that the governor could make the transition to professional basketball. "She won't be able to wear those glasses of hers on the court, and I don't think she'll like having to wear prescription goggles," the player said.

The governor's future teammates surely took no comfort in allegations made in a Vanity Fair article that Governor Palin was a high school basketball diva. "She was a ball hog," one high school teammate is quoted as saying. "She only passed the ball when the coach threatened to kick her off the team."

"She yelled at us every time we missed a shot," another ex- teammate told Vanity Fair. "Once, during half-time, she stormed out of the locker room and didn't come back."

A spokeswoman for Governor Palin, Meg Stapleton, dismissed the article's charges as political gamesmanship. "This is obviously a smear campaign by Democrats who don't want to see a pro-life woman playing in the WNBA," she said.

Ms. Stapelton had no comment on an Associated Press story that the governor has challenged President Obama to a game of one-on-one. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs also declined to discuss the report, but sounded confident that the president would win such a match-up.

"Everyone knows that she can't go to her left," he said.

Ben Krull is an essayist and attorney. His e-mail is ben@krull.com.

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