There was speculation that Alaska Governor (and right-wing darling) Sarah Palin would not run for re-election in 2010, both to give time to run for President in 2012, and to avoid a potentially embarrassing upset defeat which could derail her political career altogether (see Allen, George). But in a stunning announcement, Gov. Palin is in fact planning to resign the governorship, effective at the end of the month. Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell (R) will take over.
I have to say, I consider this a grave, grave misstep by Governor Palin. I am not a hound on “experience” — I think there are many ways by which a person can show themselves to be a qualified presidential contender, and we should let candidates prove themselves on their own merits rather than relying on proxies. Nevertheless, the simple truth is that Palin’s political resume now stands at Mayor of Wasilla and a half a term as governor of one of America’s smallest states — and she hasn’t demonstrated the sort of independent policy wonkery or political intelligence that would counsel us to overlook that fact.
Her resignation indicates that Palin wants to double down on the qualities which launched her to stardom in the first place — those which appeal to the populist, hard-right, anti-credentialist wing of the GOP. But she already has that group locked down. What Governor Palin needed to do was show that she isn’t merely a creature of the far-right — that she has the chops to play at the pro-level. Doubts about Palin’s basic capabilities linger in all but the staunchest Republican partisans, and there is no way for her to quell them now. I suspect that the Palin we’re going to see from this day forward will be, if anything, more partisan, more nasty, less substantive, less deliberative, and (yes I’ll say it) more narcissistic than what we’ve seen so far. These are not the qualities anybody wants to see in a Presidential contender. I think Palin has underestimated even the rump Republican base that will vote in the 2012 primary, let alone the full American electorate.
Steve Benen also thinks “Palin is making a terrible mistake,” and notes that her move comes precisely as even solid Republicans like Charles Krauthammer and Reihan Salam were beginning to question her viability as a serious contender.
Outside the Beltway: The idea that Palin leaving office now will aid her come 2012 “is, to say the least, unconventional.”
The Lonely Conservative carries on that theme, calling her decision “Bizarre to say the least. Quitting her job mid-term doesn’t seem to be the way to further her political career.”
Gateway Pundit seems pleased, and quotes a Fox report saying that Palin was spending too much time defending herself from local press attacks and ethics complaints to accomplish anything as Governor. I guess that is one way to stop the bleeding….
Little Green Footballs questions the Friday announcement, classically the day selected for stories pols want to bury. If that was the thought process, I can’t believe it will work, but I’m skeptical that even Palin’s brain trust thought they’d be able to keep this one under wraps.
Writing at The Corner, K-Lo wonders if Palin may just have been overwhelmed with the many roles she has to play — mother, governor, GOP superstar.
DougJ, on the other hand, thinks that there is a new scandal that was about to break and that Palin is trying to suck the wind out of.
Placing your ambition over your commitment to the state looks shady, especially for someone who won’t have a single full term as governor under her belt for the primaries.
And finally, for those of you who are less interested in three year distant Presidential speculation, and now want to know how this affects that actual seat in question (Alaska Governor), Swing State Project has got you covered.