Sarah Sarah Quite Contraire
This explanation of Gov. Palin’s resignation seems to me to make the most sense (h/t Sam Stein): [See Updates Below for counter explanation]
The head of the Republican Governor’s Association said on Friday that in emails sent to him moments before she announced her resignation as governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin discussed expanding the role she played in the Republican Party.
“Part of her decision is she wants to spend more time campaigning for candidates,” Nick Ayers, the executive director of the RGA, told Fox News.
In other words, [edit: if this story checks out], she is trying to claim the mantle of Republican leadership and thereby be considered the de facto leader going into the 2012 GOP nomination contest. GOP Leadership is not going to come from the Senate or House–what do you think Eric Cantor is going to run for President? Sanford’s out. The moderate Republicans are going to have a helluva time winning the primary (e.g. Charlie Crist). Newt’s too old and too f’in crazy.
I’ve always thought Huckabee was the front-runner for 2012. Pawlenty with an outside chance, but he’s not exactly telegenic. The outside chance X factor candidate would be Gen. Petraeus but Obama has seemingly neutralized him (for now) by putting the Gen. as head of CENTCOM and getting him on board with Obama’s Af-Pak policy.
Palin therefore has to steal the ground on the social conservative base from Huck. He’s gone for the talk show thing, but she appears headed now for hard campaigning.
On the one hand I actually appreciate her retiring. Given that she doesn’t want to do the job she was hired for I mean. Once a girl like that has seen life in the big city how is she gonna go back to the sticks of Alaska? She’s clearly not interested in being Governor, so I think it’s actually the right move in terms of putting somebody in the position who will be focused on governing. Presumably Gov. to be Sean Parnell will be interested in his own political career as Gov.
While the commentary consensus (so far) seems to be this means her political career is over, I wouldn’t be so fast to write her off. She’s trying to replay her rather unlikely win in the Alaska Gov. race. Go hard to the base and get a deeply personal, extremely loyal following. Then expand from there to reach out to the middle. And force the issue by deploying cultural war battles.
We will see. This is a major gamble on her part, but if she gets spots to campaign for others she could build a network on the national level that could in theory catapult her to the Republican Nomination. If she doesn’t get the return calls from local GOPers running for House, State Senate seats, PACs and the like, then she’s toast.
But I would not underestimate how she could could win some major brownie points in the GOP base by campaigning for other candidates. That said, she better get it together because that press conference today appeared very discombobulated and thrown together last minute. She better have some hard yes-es on this campaigning idea or this could be over fast.
But if it does bomb, I think it would be from lack of execution not the decision itself. By the transitive properties of the Feiler Faster thesis combined with the fact that campaigns never so much begin and end as are continuous processes now in American politics (they just go through hotter and colder phases of activity/inactivity), this could pan out for her. The old consensus on having to finish terms is really up in the air. Obama won his Senate seat in 2004 and started running for President in 2006 (if not 2005). Why couldn’t it work for a Governor?
I should say at this point–given there hasn’t yet been a total economic meltdown–I think she would be crushed by Obama. She would need a real crisis moment socially and politically to try to ride in Huey Long populist demagogue style in order to win. A scary proposition in my mind–both the collapse scenario and just as frightening in my mind Palin as President.
Update I: (Afterthought)
One problem she is going to have when she runs for the GOP nomination–which is undoubtedly what she wants to do and if she has opening I have to assume she’ll go for it–she’ll have to figure out how to deal with the primary calendar which is not going to serve her well.
Iowa: Huckabee is going to be near impossible to beat there.
New Hampshire: They are not fans of hers up there. I know she’s all pro-gun but there is not a big social conservative base in NH.
I would think she could do well in South Carolina. Nevada potentially as a Western candidate. Though Romney was strong there in 2008.
Update II: (In response to some early comments)
I thought the tone in this one was pretty clear, but apparently not. She wasn’t qualified to be VP and she won’t be ready to be President in 2012. The thought of her anywhere near actual federal power keeps me awake at night. But not for the same reasons it does for Rich Lowry. She has a certain brassy streets smarts politically but she doesn’t actually have political smart smarts imo. Especially on foreign policy…to put it very very charitably. iow, I would love it if the other commentators were right and she’s ready to be stuck with the fork, but I’m a little worried that isn’t the case.
Update III: The official story is that she is done with politics. Maybe. If so, I wish her well in life.
The other other theory is that it might be damage control for an upcoming scandal. If that ends up being true and the scandal sticks, then for sure she’s a goner. She’s weathered a number of potential scandals up til now, so we’ll just have to wait and see. She was very shaky in that press conference.
Update IV (Sunday): Right on cue:
But in a statement posted on Palin’s Facebook account, she suggested that she had bigger plans and a national agenda she planned to push after she resigns at the end of the month.
“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,” she said.
Palin also cast herself as a victim and blasted the media, calling the response to her announcement “predictable” and out of touch.