03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Palindroning; or the Fine Art of Quitting

Whenever I hear Sarah Palin speak (especially without a script), I'm reminded of John Kennedy's quote at a White House function in which the creme de la creme of Washington society was invited:

I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House--with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.

How far this country has come since Jefferson. To think that Sarah Palin, as well as Republican pundits, may consider herself a viable candidate for the Office of President of the United States begs for some kind of deconstruction especially when one considers her addiction to quitting.

Regardless of the Palinesque rhetoric that quitting is not really quitting just a change in an agenda of "higher calling," her knack for quitting didn't start with quitting as governor of Alaska, but began a long time ago. How long ago? Well, let's begin with college to see where potential President Palin's quitting all started. Though Jefferson only went to one institution (William and Mary), Palin enrolled in 4 different institutions between 1982-1987 before finally graduating with a BA degree in Journalism from the University of Idaho, Moscow in 1987.

Her first stop on this academic voyage began in Hilo at the University of Hawaii (first school) in 1982. According to some sources, Sarah didn't like the "rainy weather" in Hilo so she quit (first quit) attending school there and moved on to Hawaii Pacific College (second school, second quit) in Honolulu where she was enrolled for a semester, school spokeswoman Crystale Lopez said. One can only speculate on whether Jefferson, in between reading Homer in Greek and Euclid in Latin, was thinking about the weather in Williamsburg, Virginia or, perhaps, thinking of a higher calling. Apparently, HPC didn't work for our potential President Palin either since she quit again (second quit) and moved on to North Idaho College (third school), a community college in Coeur d'Alene, near Sandpoint, Idaho where Palin was born. Diligent is as diligent does, in 1983 our future President-Elect studied two semesters (that would be an entire year!) at NIC majoring in general studies (aka "I have no idea what I want to study so I'll study something"). Grades are not forthcoming, and, apparently, Alene's Heart didn't work for her either before she quit (third quit) NIC.

In 1984, Palin enrolled at the University of Idaho (fourth school) for one semester. Presumably, Palin took courses in news writing, the history of mass communication, interviewing (whatever course that is), psychology, political science and communications ethics which is probably where she learned how to slander opposing political candidates. Perhaps, it was the weather that potential President Sarah didn't like since she quit studying at UI (fourth quit) and moved on in the fall, 1985 to Matanuska-Susitna Community College in Palmer, Alaska (fifth school).

"It looks like she may have taken a few classes there,'' Palin spokeswoman Maria Comella has gone on record as saying. So, the jury's out as to whether she took classes or didn't take classes. If she did, then, in fact, she quit (fifth quit) going to school at MSCC to return to UI (sixth school).

One doesn't need to scrutinize the individual college catalogs to see what Palin may or may not have taken at those six schools. It's irrelevant. What is relevant is that she quit five of them which might mean that she really wasn't cut out for the academic life and, by extension, for a life dependent on, well, close readings and the rigor of analytic study. For the past century and a half no other Republican President has or had the academic track record of Sarah Palin. Regardless of what one might think of his academic acumen, George W. Bush enrolled in and graduated from Yale; George H.W. Bush enrolled in and graduated from Yale; Ronald Reagan enrolled in and graduated from Eureka College; Gerald Ford enrolled in and graduated from Michigan; Richard Nixon enrolled in and graduated from Whittier College; Dwight Eisenhower enrolled in and graduate from West Point; Herbert Hoover enrolled in and graduated from Stanford; Calvin Coolidge enrolled in and graduated from Amherst; Warren Harding enrolled in and graduated from Ohio Central College; enrolled in and graduated from Ohio Northern University; Theodore Roosevelt enrolled in and graduated from Harvard College; Benjamin Harrison enrolled in and graduated from Miami University (Ohio); Chester Arthur enrolled in and graduated from Union College; James Garfield enrolled in and graduated from Williams College; Rutherford Hayes enrolled in and graduated from Kenyon College; and Ulysses Grant enrolled in and graduated from West Point.

Of the last two Republicans who didn't win the White House, John McCain and Bob Dole, the former enrolled in and graduated from the United States Naval Academy and the latter enrolled in Kansas University and left because of World War II (Palin didn't take that route) only to return and finish his degree at the University of Arizona.

One has to go back to William McKinley to last find a Republican president who dropped out of university after one term (and that was allegedly due to illness) and go back to this Lincoln guy to find a Republican president who never went to college. I guess one could attempt to draw an analogy between Lincoln's lack of academic credentials and Palin's lack of academic rigor or the fact their last names have two syllables, but I won't go there. Where I will go is to introduce the fact that just on the sheer merits of education, Palin is pitifully lacking in relation to any of these other Republicans. But beyond that, Palin did what none of these other people did regardless of the difficulties, apparent or contrived, they had encountered in public office: quit.

I suggest the reason she quit and they didn't was simply because her history of quitting is contingent on her inability to endure difficulties. The fact she could not stay at one academic institution long enough to finish the studies she began, regardless of the institution, says a lot about her character. Were studies so difficult at Matanuska-Susitna Community College that she couldn't quite finish? From Lincoln to McCain, none of these people quit on their studies whether those studies were part of an academic institution or not. Nor did any of them quit or think about quitting for contrived reasons. What's also ironic is that of the Republican Presidents I've listed all of them graduated from institutions of academic distinction (either then or now) which belies the Republican mantra that only Democrats are "egg heads" and not in touch with the "aw shucks" sensibilities of the American people. If there is any comparison to be made, it is that Palin has more in common with Limbaugh than Lincoln; namely, the fact that he, too, quit college, Southeast Missouri State, after two semesters and one summer; and according to Wikipedia and Limbaugh's mother, "he flunked everything." Great minds gravitate to each other.