Andrew Sullivan calls attention to the Biblical allusion in Sarah Palin’s comment, “Politically speaking, if I die, I die.” It’s a quote from Queen Esther (Esther 4:16), a figure that we know Palin identifies with. So how good is the analogy?
Here’s the context. Mordecai has just read Esther the riot act, telling her that her new status as queen will not save her from the fate pronounced against all Jews by King Ahasuerus. And, he adds, if she remains silent, relief for the Jews will come from elsewhere but she and her family will perish. And who knows, Mordecai says, but that you have been elevated to your royal status for just this moment? So Esther decides to suck it up and approach the king. And as spiritual preparation, she undertakes a three-day fast and asks that all the Jews in the city do the same. Then if she dies, she dies.
If Palin is Esther, then she must have conceived of her resignation as the only possible public move for her: I resign, and if I die politically, I die–because I believe that I’m going to die anyway. So the resignation is an exercise in self-denial preparatory to undertaking a risky but politically necessary move–running for president. Perhaps she has been elevated to national status for just this moment. At any rate, she claims (repeatedly) to be acting on behalf of her people, Alaska. But like Queen Esther, she is really looking out for herself and her family.
Final exam questions: Who is King Ahasuerus, the Republican National Committee or the Sovereign American People? Who is Haman, the Media or…President Obama?