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Palin: The Croatian Connection

09. 07. 2009.

It seemed like a normal, crisis / recession – laden day in Croatia this past Wednesday, July 1st. Companies were complaining about the government doing nothing about the economic situation, kids were enjoying their holidays and most normal people were asking each other the usual early summer question: “When and where are you going for summer holidays?”

And then, around noon, lightning struck the small but growing Croatian Twittersphere. Prime Minister Ivo Sanader was about to resign abruptly.

As it happens, the daily newspaper “Jutarnji list” (“The Morning Paper”) got the scoop. Nebojša Grbačić, a writer for the paper’s portal, and also the person editing the paper’s Twitter account @Jutarnji, tweeted it a little while before posting it to the Web site The news spread like wildfire. Half an hour later it was on the Web site, soon the news spread to other news portals in Croatia, and then the portals came crashing down under the massive traffic from users in Croatia and around the world.

It was a shock to the Croatian political scene. Sanader had been at the height of his much-disputed reign, tightly in control of the right-wing HDZ party. In his press conference at 2 p.m., he offered no specific reason for his resignation other than to say he was “tired after a long time in politics” and he “needed a rest”. Immediately, through Twitter, the Web and other channels, one of the main theories took hold: this was an unusual, but still clearcut political spin in order to let others in government take the heat for unpopular measures, while Sanader took time to prepare for the upcoming presidential election – sort of a bizzare “reverse-Putin”.

So as the dust was settling on this strange turn of events over the next few days, here I was minding my own business when a funny piece of news started trending on Twitter only two days later, on Friday July 3rd. Of all people, on the other side of the planet, Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska and vicepresidential candidate with John McCain was resigning. Out of the blue! Like Sanader, she gave no coherent explanation. And like Sanader, comments of an imminent presidential candidacy were in the air.

I couldn’t help but tweet the obvious (to me!) parallel in this tweet. In Croatian, it reads: “Sudden and surprising resignation. Presidential candidacy imminent. Dr Ivo (meaning: Sanader)? No! Sarah f****n’ Palin! LOL!”

The tweet was picked up and commented by a few of my followers, drawing a few LOL’s and chuckles.

And then a friend from Croatia who’s been in the States for a long time alerted me to a critical fact. Palin’s chief of staff, Mike Nizich, is a Croatian American! So there, it was clear. Nizich had clearly been following developments in Zagreb and called in his boss:

“Look boss! What a great idea from the Croatian Prime Minister! We can pull a fast one like this ourselves!”

So there it is – the Croatian Connection of Sarah Palin. I was really glad to resolve a mystery that’s been bugging the American political community for such a long while! And the next time your local politician tries to sneak out of her or his political responsibilities, just tell them: “We know what you’re up to. You want to pull a “Palin-Sanader”. No way, doode – I read the Extweeme blog and I know all about that shit!”


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