Palin Resigning as Governor
Sarah Palin has announced that, not only will she not seek re-election as governor of Alaska in 2010 but that she is resigning her office later this month. Andrew Hinkelman and Lori Tipton for KTUU:
Gov. Sarah Palin will resign her office in a few weeks, she said during a news conference at her Wasilla home Friday morning. Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell will be inaugurated at the Governor’s Picnic at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks on Saturday, July 25, Palin said.
There was no immediate word as to why she will resign, though speculation has been rampant that the former vice presidential candidate is gearing up for a run at the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
I’m not sure who her political brain trust is but the idea that resigning as governor — the only significant political office she’s had — after only two years will improve her chances of getting elected president is, to say the least, unconventional.
WaPo’s Paul Volpe reports, “Palin’s decision comes amid polling that showed her losing altitude from the stratospheric heights to which she ascended following her election in 2006 but remained a strong favorite to win reelection.”
He points to a Chris Cillizza piece from a month back arguing Palin would be wise not to seek reelection because Alaska is a long way from the key primary states and it’s not a great time to be governor right now, anyway, because of the economic climate. Fair enough. For most serious presidential contenders, it may well be better to spend more time raising money, building an organization, and eating pancakes in Iowa and New Hampshire.
But Palin’s not an ordinary presidential aspirant in that she’s got essentially no experience. True, that didn’t seem to stop Barack Obama. But he’s sui generis and came out of the gates giving the impression he had at least thought deeply about the major national and international issues presidents would deal with. Fairly or not, Palin lost that presumption almost immediately upon her debut on the national stage. Without a governorship as a platform for demonstrating competence, I’m not sure how she rebrands herself.
UPDATE: Well, the combination of breaking news, Palin’s pop culture icon status, and a slow news day have made this one of the biggest political stories in some time. As of 6 am, this post already has 50 comments and Memeorandum is going nuts. See a screencap here; it’s too big to embed in a post.
Nor, half a day later, are we any closer to unraveling this mystery.
The near-universal consensus is that her resignation speech was simply godawful. Watch it if you haven’t already:
Ed Morrissey believes, as do I, that “it simply can’t be rationalized on the basis of what Palin said today. It’s easily the most bizarre resignation I’ve seen, and just about senseless.”
Mark Halperin offers “10 Possible reasons for Palin’s decision,” all of which are necessarily speculative.
1. Her political standing has slipped enough that she could have lost a re-election bid if she tried to retain her current office.
2. Her political standing has slipped enough that even if she had run and won, she would have likely been bloodied in the race, maybe even in a primary.
Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968 after having lost a bid as California governor in 1962 and for president in 1960. Mitt Romney was a serious contender for the 2008 GOP nomination despite deciding not to run for re-election because he would have lost. Neither, however, resigned after only two years in their only significant office.
3. Even more ethics complaints (many frivolous) would have been filed against her.
4. She’s got a book to write.
And, I guess, having people think you’re weird sells books.
5. She’s got a special needs baby to raise.
But she had a special needs baby to raise when she was seeking the vice presidency. And, for that matter, if that’s her rationale, why not say so? People would be sympathetic.
6. It is logistically impossible to run for president as the sitting governor of Alaska — because of flight times. (Not hard: *impossible*)
Already noted by Cillizza and reasonable enough. But Alaska hasn’t moved all that much in the last two years.
7. She couldn’t truly explore her money-making potential as an incumbent governor.
8. She couldn’t truly explore her media potential as an incumbent governor.
9. The legislature has turned so much against her that the job wasn’t much fun any more.
10. If she wants to be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2012, she needs to spend more time raising money, establishing her international and national expertise, and traveling the Lower 48. And she needs to start now.
I’d say she needed to start about twenty years ago. But sure.
In fairness, though, Bill Kristol thinks it’s a good idea. And he’s seldom wrong. Oh, wait.
If Palin wants to run in 2012, why not do exactly what she announced today? It’s an enormous gamble – but it could be a shrewd one.
After all, she’s freeing herself from the duties of the governorship. Now she can do her book, give speeches, travel the country and the world, campaign for others, meet people, get more educated on the issues – and without being criticized for neglecting her duties in Alaska. I suppose she’ll take a hit for leaving the governorship early – but how much of one? She’s probably accomplished most of what she was going to get done as governor, and is leaving a sympatico lieutenant governor in charge.
And haven’t conservatives been lamenting the lack of a national leader? Well, now she’ll try to be that. She may not succeed. Everything rests on her talents, and on her performance. She’ll be under intense and hostile scrutiny, and she’ll have to perform well.
That’s essentially a long form version of Halperin’s 10th reason.