Sarah Palin just shocked everyone by announcing that she is stepping down as governor of Alaska at the end of the month, before her first term in office is even up. From what I can tell between her official statement and her brother’s remarks to Fox News, she’s citing the following reasons:
– her administration has largely accomplished in 2 years what they promised to do in 4
– fighting the onslaught of false & frivolous ethics complaints has become so costly to Alaskan taxpayers and consumed so much of her and her staff’s time that state business has inevitably gotten the short end of the stick
– she doesn’t feel she can do any good as a lame-duck governor, and new Governor Scott Parnell will ultimately be better for the state
– she feels she can best serve the country by fighting for conservative causes and individuals in as-yet unspecified ways
We’ll have to wait to see what she does post-office to know for sure, but it smells to me like Sarah Palin is running for President of the United States.
Jim Geraghty says her career is good as dead, and Morrissey & Co. are not amused, while Bill Kristol thinks stepping down could be shrewd. I more or less agree with Kristol’s high-risk/high-reward assessment. She’s risking criticisms that she can’t take the heat of the opposition and that she’s abandoning Alaska to her own ambition (between now and November 2010 is long for a “lame duck” period), both charges that could have been avoided by waiting out the rest of her term. On the other hand, I have no doubt that the cost of fighting the smear campaign, both to the state and to the Palin family, is tremendous. If she spends the next couple years boning up on foreign policy and genuinely fighting for conservative causes (Mitt Romney made a similar pledge, but his follow-through has been underwhelming so far), it’ll be time well spent, and she’ll be a formidable candidate come campaign season. The Democrats have surely noticed slipping support for Barack Obama’s policies, and they can’t be thrilled at the prospect of somebody with Palin’s popularity and communication skills, free from the shackles of public office, becoming a regular spokeswoman against The One.
I also want to note one thing that caught my eye: Palin’s pledge to support good candidates regardless of “what party they’re in or no party at all.” Could that be a warning that she won’t take lightly to liberalizing the Republican Party, and is willing to take her chances as an independent conservative? Maybe I’m reading too much into a mere rhetorical bone thrown to bipartisanship, but resercons should tread lightly…
If nothing else, we can thank Sarah Palin for this: she got the talking heads to shut up about Michael Jackson for the longest period yet since he died.
UPDATE: Allah thinks she’s out of luck for 2012 but is really angling for 2016. I doubt it—if she’s waiting another four years, then that would be all the more reason to finish her current term. Naturally, speculation abounds that this is preemptive damage control for an impending monster scandal (maybe Dr. Sullivan has finally cracked the Trig case!). I’m skeptical (of course the nutroots are gonna take the most disastrous possible option), but we’ll see.
UPDATE 2: Full disclosure: in retrospect, I think my early declarations that “Palin 2012 Begins Today” (sans “?”) and that there was little doubt left about her presidential plans were impulsive and premature, and I have changed this post accordingly.