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Palin Resigns as Governor – Now What? Maybe Senator? Maybe Moving?

With the albeit abrupt resignation of former GOP vice presidential candidate and Alaska’s Govenor Sarah Palin on Friday, she and her entourage have been consistently tight-lipped — to date — about why she has done this. I’ve bounced this one off my wife as well, asking questions such as, “Since all of the ethics violations accusations have returned empty-handed by her detractors, why would she volutnarily step down now?,” and, “What — is every politician that has a whiff of negativity associated with them — especially if such allegations aren’t true — going to go about stepping down simply because the opposition is always questioning them?”

Getting me back on track, a concerned citizen emailed me a few links to TheDailyBeast.com that went a long way in at least showing more the context behind why such an action may have occurred on the part of the Governor.

First, John Batchelor, radio show host of the John Batchelor show, comments that “[s]he is now unmatched for the 2012 primary:”

Is this normal after a losing presidential campaign? No. Nor is this a normal year for the Republicans. Kristol and Schmidt and their cronies all know that the Republican brand that they depend upon for a job and for money, lots of money, has been wrecked to the point of no return. They are veterans of a lost cause with one wild adventure to try before history moves on—and the adventurer’s name is Sarah Palin. …

Palin’s sudden announcement that she will resign the Alaska governorship at the end of July, delivered alongside the fireworks of the 4th of July, underlines her self-awareness that she must respond to the pyrotechnics of her stature in the GOP—and must respond in an explosive fashion. Discarding the demands of an Alaska job that is at best part-time, undemanding, predictable, banal, means that she will now devote full-time to traveling the “lower 48” in order to speak, speak, speak. Wherever she goes, she is Alaska, moose-hunting, and Wasilla. As a candidate, she begins the nomination hunt with a formula that none of her rivals can match, not even Mitt Romney, not only because she gave up something in order to go for the White House but also because she reached this decision by being drafted.

What is going on right now in the Republican Party—even as the professionals scramble to react with grins and snorts to the news of Palin’s Alaska resignation—are the early scenes of the 2012 campaign for the presidency with Sarah Palin as the once and future hero. Like Joan of Arc,  Catherine the Great,  Elizabeth Regina, and, skipping four centuries of quarrelsome princes,  Margaret Thatcher, the Republican Party has already decided that the governor of Alaska will rescue the GOP from its ruination. What Sarah Palin begins with an announcement from Wasilla is not only a campaign, it is an Iditarod of a crusade—first woman, first mom, and second moose-hunter into the White House.

If you scoff at Palin for president, you are likely insufficiently cynical to work on a national campaign. Eight months after the election, the governor is as natural and gifted a presidential candidate as anyone since Huey Long. The farther she stays away from Washington and the longer she pushes away those sharpies clamoring for her to raise PAC money, to prepare gray-bearded policy positions, network at the barbecues in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina (well, maybe not South Carolina right now), the more box-office irresistible she will be to Republican primary voters. What most recommends the Palin boom is that she is now, 40 months to the election, as celebrated by the GOP right wing as she is reviled by the Democratic left wing.

Rather than a blow to a career, the Purdum piece in Vanity Fair is a spectacular tribute to a force of nature that became an “ineradicable” caricature before she became a household name. Tina Fey’s talent is a walking advertisement for presidential debates to come. … The stories about Palin and her rambunctious daughters, her riveting special-needs child, her cheerful parents, her innate affection for the strangeness of Alaska, and her magical romance with her rock-star attractive husband Todd are all a setup to learning that in the governor’s office she is Elmer Gantry in a skirt, as clannish, vengeful, petty, tireless, ill-read, pouty and manipulative as anyone Hollywood could dream up and play Mildred Pierce. The darkest revelations about Palin are that she didn’t like preparing for the tedious TV interviews; she treated the dull Biden debate as irrelevant; and she wanted to make her own concession speech on election night. In sum, the governor does not like losers, does not like to lose, and was liberated the moment she shed the burden of bootless John McCain.

… In fact, the governor does not need much more than a ballot line from the aimless, tongue-tied, villain-rich GOP. She certainly does not need the GOP to do well in the congressional mid-terms in 2010; she does not need the party to improve its flabby polling on health care or trust; she does not even need the Republican Party to raise a voice to explain her positions on the burning controversies on Capitol Hill. Palin does not need to prove anything at all about wise government, because she appeals directly to the anti-authoritarian crowd that has been with us since Shay’s Rebellion in 1787. It is an accident of history, and of John McCain’s whimsy, that Sarah Palin caught Potomac Fever in September ‘08, and it will carry her either to the White House or to that place even rarer, where the Kingfisher dwells, called what-could’ve-been.

Second, Mark McKinnon, vice chair of Public Strategies and president of Maverick Media, the man who helped Sarah Palin in her debate against Vice President Joe Biden, revealed the following about the would-be 2012 contender:

Just when we thought things couldn’t get any crazier, and that the news might take a break for the holiday weekend, Palin explodes a nuclear device by announcing she’s stepping down as Governor of Alaska.

No matter what you think about Palin, you have to have to give her credit for her ability to attract attention. The most interesting thing in politics is surprise, and she just pulled a doozy. Nobody, absolutely nobody, saw this one coming. …

A few words about Sarah Palin: She is one of the most fascinating women I have ever met. She crackles with energy like a live electrical wire and on first meeting gets about three inches from your face. Her instant subliminal message is: “I’m don’t know you very well, but I’m very clear about who I am.” She reeks of moxie and self confidence. And she’s fearless.

Well, she was mostly fearless when I intersected with her. But, she was also a week out from a nationally televised debate with Joe Biden, and she knew she was in trouble. She knew she wasn’t prepared. And she knew it would be difficult, maybe impossible to be ready. And the brief session I witnessed, verified as much and I was convinced the debate would be a disaster. But, despite the crushingly stressful situation in which she found herself, and despite the aching vulnerability, she squared up in her uniquely Palin way and made it clear to all of us in the room that she was going to bear down, get ready and was not, under any circumstances, going to let John McCain down. But, I frankly thought she would.

But damned if she didn’t. I watched the debate on television from Austin and was stunned. The difference in the person I’d seen just five days earlier and the woman I saw step onto the stage with Joe Biden was a complete transformation. Granted, expectations were low, but she cleared ‘em.

A few words about Palin’s campaign manager Steve Schmidt: He has in my strong opinion a man of very strong character and integrity and has been unfairly attacked by people with axes grinding, as being responsible for unflattering leaks about the governor.

When you understand the full history of the McCain campaign and that Steve was deeply involved with picking Palin in the first place, and if you’ve spent any time at all with the guy, you know the notion of Schmidt “leaking” makes no sense.

My experience in politics has proven this: when someone leaks once, they tend to leak again. And if they are doing so by the time they’ve reached Schmidt’s level in presidential campaigns, they probably have a well-developed track record. Steve has served in high-profile roles in Republican politics for years. During the 2004 presidential race, he ran rapid response and was a part of a small group of strategists who met with Karl Rove daily. No suspicion of leaks. After the campaign, he served as the vice president’s communications director and deputy assistant to the president. Again, no suspicion of leaks. He helped confirm John Roberts to the Supreme Court and led the confirmation effort for Samuel Alito. No leaks. At each juncture, damaging information from private conversations or meetings between himself and his clients was never a part of the media narrative. I’ve also followed his activities in California, where he has maintained the confidence of Gov. Schwarzenegger from the time he arrived in February 2006 until this day. And I bet that’s because I’ve never read about a leaked private conversation he’s had with the governor. …

Back to Palin. So, wassup in Wasilla? Maybe she’s just tired of all the drama and simply wants to stop the madness surrounding her. Maybe she wants to focus on her family. Maybe she may wants to make a lot of money giving speeches. Maybe she wants to host her own TV show. Maybe she wants to start a Barry Goldwater-like movement. And maybe she wants to run for President in 2012. Or, maybe she’s got a boyfriend in Argentina.

Only one thing is for sure when it comes to Palin: There is more to come. Probably much more. And we’ll all be watching, fascinated by antics of the thriller from Wasilla.

My bet is that the race for 2012 has only gotten started. I remember watching Fox News on one of our flat screens at work when the McCain campaign announced that she was the VP pick; to me, it was as if the rhetorical 747-of-a news media coverage had suddenly realized they were not only flying towards the wrong airport, but they were flying towards the wrong continent and had to maneuver the megaton-of-an-airliner 180 degrees in 30 seconds. Everyone was caught completely off guard. So much so, in fact, that when the news broke, Alaska’s web site talking about the Governor was swamped to the point of unable to serve any pages for several minutes.

While I could be eating my own words, why do I think a huge scandal is not about to break on Sarah Palin? Simply for the fact that it would have to be at least as big as, say, discovering that Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) is really a woman (!) and if after the relentless grilling that Palin’s family faced during the 2008 presidential campaign hadn’t revealed any further proverbial skeletons in the closet, it’s highly likely that she’s been pretty thoroughly vetted.

For someone who draws a capacity crowd any time she enters a room and who can whip up people into a frenzy better than anyone since Ronald Reagan, I also don’t think this is an overall quit on her part.

We shall see…

Update: Folks, this is why I married my wife — she has an intrinsic sense of the human psyche … my wife thinks Palin’s running for a Senate seat in 2010 (she — my wife — stipulates that she could be wrong).

I’ve asked my wife a number of questions regarding her ephiphany, and she has a few excellent points on her side:

  • Palin wouldn’t have resigned with more than a year to go in her current office this far out for the presidency, but it would make sense for a 2010 senatorial run;
  • Palin would gain invaluable experience and quite the team in dealing with legislative issues at the federal level as a Senator;
  • Palin could mimic Obama’s route to the White House, except that she’s actually been a Governor and has had to deal with executive-level issues.

A cursory search via news.google.com shows virtually no consideration of a senatorial run. So, if it all turns out to be true — that she’s going to run for Senate as a stepping stone to the White House — you heard it here first!

Update: Oops! According to RedState, they do some speculation on this. Also, there is no senatorial seat open in 2010, but there is a Congressional seat potential then; she’d have to wait until 2014 to run for Senate, which isn’t going to happen. However, she could be considering a move outside of Alaska in order to logistically better set her up for a presidential run.

Update: The former Governor released the following commentary on her Facebook page:

On this Independence Day, I am so very proud of all those who have chosen to serve our great nation and I honor their selflessness and the sacrifices of their families, too.

If I may, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the last 24 hours and share my thoughts with you.

First, I want to thank you for your support and hard work on the values we share. Those values led me to the decision my family and I made. Yesterday, my family and I announced a decision that is in Alaska’s best interest and it always feels good to do what is right. We have accomplished more during this one term than most governors do in two – and I am proud of the great team that helped to build these wonderful successes. Energy independence and national security, fiscal restraint, smaller government, and local control have been my priorities and will remain my priorities.

For months now, I have consulted with friends and family, and with the Lieutenant Governor, about what is best for our wonderful state. I even made a few administrative changes over that course in time in preparation for yesterday. We have accomplished so much and there’s much more to do, but my family and I determined after prayerful consideration that sacrificing my title helps Alaska most. And once I decided not to run for re-election, my decision was that much easier – I’ve never been one to waste time or resources. Those who know me know this is the right decision and obvious decision at that, including Senator John McCain. I thank him for his kind, insightful comments.

The response in the main stream media has been most predictable, ironic, and as always, detached from the lives of ordinary Americans who are sick of the “politics of personal destruction”. How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it’s about country. And though it’s honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make. But every American understands what it takes to make a decision because it’s right for all, including your family.

I shared with you yesterday my heartfelt and candid reasons for this change; I’ve never thought I needed a title before one’s name to forge progress in America. I am now looking ahead and how we can advance this country together with our values of less government intervention, greater energy independence, stronger national security, and much-needed fiscal restraint. I hope you will join me. Now is the time to rebuild and help our nation achieve greatness!

God bless you! And I look forward to making a difference – with you!

Sarah

Phil

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