Palin Resigns!

by Brien Jackson

I don’t know about you, but I’m still trying to make sense of Sarah Palin’s announcement that she’s resigning the governorship of Alaska barely halfway into her first term. A lot of other people have tried parsing the text of the speech, which I’m not going to do, in part because it was totally incoherent, but also because the reason for the resignation probably won’t be found in the speech. But if you want to, well, I warned you:

Ouch.

Anyway, a couple of points. From a political standpoint, this is pretty much the end of Sarah Palin. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just trying too hard. Plenty of Governors have declined to run for re-election to seek another office (Charlie Crist is doing it now), but, so far as I know, none of them have actually resigned the office to do so, at least not successfully. Also, if this was the intention of the speech, I imagine Palin would have announced her candidacy. It’s too early for that, of course, but it’s also hard to get credit for something you’re not really doing. Palin’s political advisers might be amateurs, but I don’t think even they could make such a silly mistake.

With that in mind, the other thing I’ll note is that this was obviously not a well thought out, highly planned, decision. The speech was clearly not written by a professional, the delivery was rushed, hectic, and uncertain. If I had to guess, I’d venture that the decision to resign was made no sooner than 36 hours or so before the press conference. This raises the rather tantalizing question as to what exactly is going on, and perhaps we’ll never know that. There’s been speculation that another major scandal may be about to break, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. If there’s an ethical, or even legal, problem coming down the pike, resigning the office won’t stop it from breaking, and being out of office puts you in a weaker position, politically, than being in office. Now it’s certainly possible that Palin and her team are just too dumb to realize that, but given that mch of Palin’s political persona revolves around “fighting enemies,” it just seems unlikely that such a potential issue would be met with resignation.

Doing a two dollar examination from afar, with the perspective of an ex-political operative, my best guess is that someone has dug up some embarrassing personal information about Palin and has used it to get her out of the way. What could do that? It’s hard to say. Something that would destroy her credibility with the Republican base would be especially damaging, because not only would it wreck her political ambitions, it would erode her ability to cash in on her political celebrity by depriving her of a fanbase. So that’s what I would bet on.

In any event, somewhere Mitt Romney and Haley Barbour are smiling.

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