(you might want to watch this first*)
Let's start with a multiple-choice question: Which answer is correct?
1) Sarah Palin's resignation less than two/thirds of the way through her term as governor is a violation of her compact with the voters, a flaky act that destroys her credibility as a serious politician.
2) Her resignation was a brilliant tactical move that makes her the de facto frontrunner for the GOP nomination.
3) Who gives a @#%$ @#$ about your traditional political conventions?
If you answered #1 or #2 you missed the point. Sarah Palin is not part of your frame of reference. She isn't participating in the worldview you share with your allies and opponents alike.
"We're not retreating," Sarah Palin quoted Gen. MacArthur as saying, "we're advancing in another direction." Anyone who doesn't recognize the essential truth behind that statement runs the risk of not only misunderstanding Palin, but of failing to foresee the threat she could represent. And those who judge her performance on traditional lines will overlook her genuine talent.
Palin may be as erratic as many people say. I wasn't the only observer who noted a hopped up, free-associating, almost amphetamine-like quality to the cadence of her resignation speech. But another way to view her speech is as the latest example of a style that could, in the end, prove revolutionary. Call it "post-modern" politics.
Look up postmodernism (or "PoMo," as some call it) and you'll get a broad range of definitions. It's almost like the Supreme Court definition of obscenity: You can't define it, but you know it when you see it. It was born of the sense that there are no underlying principles or conventions we can trust. It involves identifying, naming, and ultimately shattering the rules under which we've all been operating. It's related to the theater concept of "breaking the proscenium" or "knocking down the fourth wall," acknowledging that some of us are actors and some are spectators in what is, after all, only a performance.
Coherence? That's so yesterday.
It was very postmodern of Palin to characterize her resignation - an outrageous act by any reasonable standard - as a principled refusal to "go with the flow." Her vision of politics is so profoundly radical that even performing the duties of office becomes unimportant. The job you sought is no longer the point. It's all about the performance. It's politics as Conceptual Art.
*my favorite bit is at the end when she says that in basketball "you have to keep your eyes on the basket"