To say I’m surprised and disappointed at the resignation of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is an understatement by an order of magnitude. The news hit me like a ton of bricks. Anyone who knows me or looks in the archives of this blog knows that I became a great fan of Sarah Palin and looked forward to seeing her inaugurated as President of the United States in 2013.
It’s almost impossible to believe anything other than that this announcement is a self-inflicted, below-the-waterline torpedo hit to any presidential aspirations she had in 2012 – or beyond. I’d like to think otherwise, but it’s hard not to see this as political suicide. The question is, why’d she do it?
I don’t know.
To be honest, many of the reasons she gave in her address seem, well, nonsensical. Didn’t want to be a lame-duck? Huh? You’re not a lame-duck if you run for reelection and, besides, her current term wouldn’t end until 2011, even if she were defeated or chose not to run. Resigning now to avoid being a lame-duck is just a lame reason. If that were logical, shouldn’t every president have resigned to make way for his successor?
The legal bills she and her family racked up defending her against ludicrous ethics complaints? A single fundraising drive and conservatives around the country would have been happy to contribute to retire her debt. In fact, the blog Conservatives for Palin did just that, raising over $100,000 for her with minimal advertising. A national campaign with direct mailing would have cleared the debt easily. As for the money Alaska was spending to deal with the charges? That’s part of the state’s job: to handle these kinds of complaints. If there’s a fault in Alaska’s ethics laws that allows someone like Celtic Diva to become an abusive complainant, then the law should be amended to discourage nuisance filings. By giving this for a reason, Sarah has said that any elected official who becomes a lightning rod should resign to spare the state the expense.
And then there’s there question of what this tells her supporters in Alaska and the other 49* states. As Ed Morrissey puts it, leaders don’t quit. And the people of Alaska elected her to serve a four-year term. It’s one thing to run for reelection with the idea of running for president in the next cycle; lots of governors have done that and been open about it. And it’s fine to say “I’m not running for reelection because I plan to run at a national level, and I want to be fair to my state.” Many (including me) would respect her for that. But to quit in midterm? Isn’t there an obligation to finish the job owed to those who agreed to vote for you?
No one who has any sense (or any sense of decency), can doubt that Sarah was subjected to a level of savage attacks from the media and operatives in both parties that, as far as I can recall, is unprecedented in the modern era – especially for someone who only ran for vice-president. The attacks on her children have been particularly vile. It’s a sign of the deep sickness in our political system. I wouldn’t blame a political figure for refusing to move to the national level and declining to run for reelection after that, but to quit early?
It may be, as some such as William Kristol have said, that she is taking a shrewd gamble to clear the decks for a national run. Perhaps, and it may be that she’ll rise from this even faster than Nixon rose from his defeats in 1960 and 1962. Maybe. I’ve said for months that she’s just the kind of person -the character, the common sense, the ethics- I want to see in office. But this bizarre move has thrown all sorts of question marks into the mix.
And I want a better explanation than I read today.
*(56, if you’re President Obama)
LINKS: Tim Lindell on Sarah crossing the Rubicon; Quin Hillyer – “dereliction of duty;” Sister Toldjah; Jim Geraghty; The Anchoress has lots of links and wonders if there isn’t something else behind this. As do I.