Friday, July 03, 2009

Palin moves on to the next phase

WASILLA, Alaska (AP) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin made a surprise announcement Friday that she is resigning from office at the end of the month without explaining why she plans to step down, raising speculation that she would focus on a run for the White House in the 2012 race.

The former Republican vice presidential candidate hastily called a news conference Friday morning at her home in suburban Wasilla, giving such short notice that only a few reporters actually made it to the announcement. State troopers blocked late-arriving media outside her home, and her spokesman, Dave Murrow, finally emerged to confirm that Palin will step down July 26. He refused to give details about the governor's future plans.

"Once I decided not to run for re-election, I also felt that to embrace the conventional Lame Duck status in this particular climate would just be another dose of politics as usual, something I campaigned against and will always oppose," Palin said in a statement released by her office.

There are four possible reasons for this. I will present them from least to most likely:

1. She and her family are tired of politics and tired of the attacks and is returning to private life.

2. There is some scandal she fears will hit soon and she is dropping off the political radar to minimize the media feeding frenzy.

3. There is some serious health issue affecting her or a member of her family and she is freeing herself to deal with whatever it is.

4. She is planning on running for president in 2012 and needs to focus on that rather than being a lame duck governor.

Taking these in order I don't put much stock in the idea that she is just tired of the political battlefield. While no one could blame her for wanting to get out of the pressure cooker, especially since open season has apparently been declared on her minor children, I just don't see it. Neither Mrs. Palin nor her husband seem the type to let themselves to be pushed around by bullies.

I don't buy the idea of some kind of scandal either. When McCain announced that she was his running mate the media put her under a microscope and would almost certainly found anything that was there to be found. We also know that the McCain campaign was in Alaska vetting Palin at least six months before the announcement was made. It is likely that they would have turned up any dirt there was to find and she would never have been chosen. Someone has even suggested that Mrs. Palin is being blackmailed by someone high up in the McCain campaign, but given the level of pure hatred that McCain campaign insiders had for Governor Palin I can't believe that anything they knew wouldn't have been leaked months ago.

A health issue is at least possible. If she has just found out that there is a serious illness affecting Todd or one of her kids I have no doubt that she would put her career aside without a second thought.

To me the most likely explanation for her decision to step down is the realization that she cannot effectively campaign for president while doing the job of Governor of Alaska.

The next governor's election in Alaska is in 2010. If she does not plan to run for reelection she must announce that soon in order to allow the party to find another candidate and put together a campaign. This way she gives the Lt. Governor the chance to run as an incumbent.

She has accomplished what she set out to do as governor, cleaning up corruption and shaking up the political establishment in Anchorage and getting the people of Alaska a better deal from the oil companies who are profiting from Alaska's natural resources. Not to mention the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline deal which required her to bring native Alaskan tribes, American oil companies and the Canadian government to the table - and make them work and play nicely together.

It was just time for her to move on.

If I am right you can expect to see Mrs. Palin spend most of the rest of this year and next year in the lower 48 speaking and writing - and studying up on the foreign affairs issues which were her weakest area during the 2008 campaign.

Of course the inside-the-beltway pundits are saying that this will kill Mrs. Palin's presidential hopes in 2012, but I wouldn't put much stock in what they say. After all they were the ones who were telling the GOP that its hope for the future lay with John McCain and his kind of "moderate" Republican.

The kind of people who appear on panels on CNN, MSNBC or even FOX care far more about being invited to the right DC or Manhattan cocktail parties than they do about the future of the
Republican party - or even about having their predictions proven right in the long run.