Following up on my first and second posts about Sarah Palin’s departure from the Alaska governorship, there’s one remaining element to be considered: the “quitter factor.” Is she abandoning her obligation to her state by not completing the term of office she was elected to?
In theory, you could say so, but in practice, Alaska is still getting the administration they voted for—incoming governor Sean Parnell seems to share Palin’s views and priorities. Palin argues that stepping down is best for her state, as doing so will spare Alaska the financial strain of further ethics woes (these frivolous charges have cost Alaska nearly $2 million so far, and they’re still coming), and Parnell will be able to focus on state business rather than these investigations. Again, in practice this is all probably true. I don’t think Palin’s decision hurts Alaska at all, but it may have other unintended ramifications.
Predictably, some are questioning whether Palin can take the heat of modern American politics. Unfair though it may be (she showed admirable resilience during the 2008 campaign, and at a minimum, we know she’s going to hit the campaign trail for conservative politicians and speak out against Obama’s policies, subjecting herself to more attacks), it’s a line of argument Palin herself has invited by citing the attacks as one of her reasons for resigning. Only time will reveal her true mettle, though—if the pit bull in lipstick remains in the thick of the fight, whether campaigning for like-minded pols or especially as a presidential contender herself, it ought to put this meme to rest for good.
Perhaps most problematic is the message her departure may have telegraphed to the Left. There is a danger that they will look at this and conclude, “we managed to get a sitting governor to resign,” and feel emboldened to repeat these tactics across the country. That’s the last thing any of us should want, and even if the attacks did factor into Palin’s decision, it was a mistake to publicly attribute her resignation to them in any part. These people will pounce upon even the slightest appearance of weakness.
I would love to see Sarah Palin prove the critics wrong and to see her post-office contributions to America dwarf anything she could have done as governor of Alaska. But right now, the best I can say is that time will tell.