That’s what people have been asking me on Facebook and in e-mail. They don’t bother to add her last name, since Sarah Palin has now joined the ranks of celebrities who can be referred to by first name only — at least in the highly politicized circles in which I travel.
I wanted to, I really did, but family pressures intervened. How Governor — soon to be ex-Governor — Palin has managed to do all she has with her large family is beyond me, but I suppose when you have five children over an 18 year period it’s not quite the same as having four over a 7 year stretch, so maybe I have an excuse.
Anyway, when I heard the news on Friday that Palin was resigning, my first thought was, small wonder. There she was up in Alaska trying to do her job and not only was she being hounded by frivolous ethics complaints, but she was the subject of a brand new hit piece in Vanity Fair — long after the last campaign and long before the next, a harbinger of the vitriol that will spew if and when she launches a bid for the nomination in 2012.
I read some of the online commentary before I saw the video of Palin’s speech, and much of that commentary confirmed what had been my initial guess: she was sick of it, fed up, getting out of the dirty business of politics, good-bye and good riddance. Those on the right were saying no wonder, as I did, while those on the left were sneering words to the effect of don’t let the door hit you on the way out, you crybaby prima donna bitch.
Then I watched the video, and realized she had no intention of getting out. My first thought was, she’s got to be kidding. You don’t quit your first term as governor and then expect people to elect you president. And then I listened to her again, and realized that she knows that. She knows that this simply isn’t done — not in the game of politics as it’s usually played, anyway. She said several times that this wasn’t “politics as usual” and she wasn’t kidding.
She said that the taxpayers of Alaska had been hit with a $2 million bill for those frivolous ethics complaints — all of which Palin has successfully defended — and that as long as she remains in office, they are certain to continue coming fast and furious. This, she said, is not fair to the taxpayers of Alaska. She herself has run up legal bills of half a million dollars, and that bill would certainly go up as well. Because she has become an incredibly polarizing national figure, she can no longer govern Alaska the way she did before John McCain chose her as his running mate.
If she has accomplished what she set out to as governor, is handing over her office to a lieutenant governor she trusts and who will not be handicapped by national notoriety, and will save Alaskans a lot of money by stepping down, then a case can be made that she’s not being a thin-skinned quitter who doesn’t finish what she starts, but truly is thinking outside the political box and doing what she believes is right despite the risks to her own political future.
This is not to say, of course, that there aren’t political benefits to her choice. It frees her up to travel the lower 48 making contacts, building grassroots campaign infrastructure, raising money, and campaigning for other Republicans who can return the favor in 2012. Those who hate Palin will say that’s all there is to it.
For those who think Palin shot herself in the political foot on Friday, it’s a glorious time to be a liberal. First GOP golden boy Mark Sanford self-destructed in a sex scandal that not only wrecked his career, but gave leftists the added pleasure of being able to have a laugh at Sanford’s private e-mails to his mistress. And then Sarah up and quit. “And another one gone, another one gone, another one bites the dust!” the Obamanistas exulted.
Maybe. The funny thing about politics these days is, as Yogi Berra used to say, it ain’t over till it’s over. A couple of short years ago everyone who knew anything was saying a young, black first-term senator could never wrest the nomination from the well-connected wife of a popular former president. I have no idea what’s going to happen in 2012. And nobody else does either.
What the rest of the crowd is saying:
Anchoress on the initial announcement, thinking there must be an illness or marital trouble brewing and Sarah just didn’t want to talk about it, and then upon later reflection, thinking maybe she’s crazy like a fox after all. Bill Kristol, saying she was crazy like a fox from the get-go. Melissa Clouthier agrees. Fausta says she’s done for. John Hawkins is hedging his bets. Michelle Malkin not saying much but has a lot of links.
Ace had an outstanding post on Sarah just before her resignation, then said after the resignation that the fat lady had sung, she’s toast. Russ posting at Ace’s site couldn’t disagree more, however, and he and Ace are agreeing to disagree.
Stacy McCain thinks Sarah knows just what she’s doing, and then follows his own Rule 5 with a picture Sarah would probably not appreciate. One of McCain’s bloggers, Smitty, seems markedly less smitten, observing:
if it’s merely trading one megalomaniac for one with longer hair, then it’s a difference making little difference.
They’re having a field day over at the Grey Lady. Gail Collins wrote one of the most pedestrian, ham-handed hit pieces I’ve yet to see. If you’re going to be a bitch, at least do it with a modicum of cleverness, the way Maureen Dowd usually does. Not this week, however, when Dowd’s column is almost — but not quite — as close to cringe-worthy high school journalism as Collins’s.
Speaking of high school, Erik Sean Nelson at Huffington Post used the announcement as an excuse to make retard jokes. Wonkette and KOS are having a similar sort of fun. If these folks get a little more mature they might give Gail Collins a run for her money.