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Posted by on Jul 4, 2009 in Media, Politics | 12 comments

Palin Resignation: Another Shoe To Drop?


Conservative talker Mark Levin was breaking the news yesterday
about Sarah Palin’s resignation as Governor of Alaska to his listeners, many of whom would likely be among her staunchest fans. He talked about the slew of failed ethics violations charges brought against her by opponents in Alaska and said she was under constant fire because the liberal media and the Democrats feared her.

Journalists, Democrats, many independent voters might answer a huge “NOT!!!” to that one (for many Democrats, Palin heading the ticket would be Christmas, Chanuka, Kwaanza and Festivus rolled into one with Passover, Easter, confirmations and bar mitzvahs and brises added to boot) since the last election showed she does not attract crossover voters but seems stalled into being a conservative niche candidate. Levin told listeners that if people criticize her for not completing her term, didn’t Barack Obama not complete his Senate term? So she only served two years. Didn’t Obama also only serve two as Senator?

Levin predicted Palin would be around for a while — and that this move could make sense since it now frees her to define herself.

Or does it?

Sarah Palin is again doing it her way — but the question is whether her way is on the same wavelength as America’s overall polity and the way the political system operates. Is she trying to get a message across on FM when the political system operates on AM? Is this a political move or is she being hounded out of office? Does this show political smarts? Or if she can’t stand the heat and is getting out of the kitchen, should Republican primary voters make sure she stays out of the GOP Presidential ticket kitchen?

Her biggest problem may now be this: is the way in which she resigned has now defined her even more.

To be sure, the left, right and center (which is always divided into center, center right and center left) will argue over that — yet another sign of how polarizing a figure she has become.

And then there’s this: there is a growing feeling that perhaps the announcement — which took even some of her closest supporters by surprise — suggests that yet another shoe will soon drop.

Perhaps a big one.

Will it be a glamorous shoe — or one that effectively gives her the political boot?

Will there be news of a Sarah Palin TV show? Will she go on a massive tour of the U.S., pitching her book, collecting huge speaking fees, whipping up, shoring up and organizing her conservative movement base? Or is there a new scandal about to burst that will take all of her energy, public relations abilities, and shoring up her base for spin control?

And the final question: no matter what comes next, Palin’s resignation is not something that will help her but adds to a general image not shared by Levin or his listeners that she may be a loose cannon. Will Republican primary voters in a majority go for damaged goods — particularly if those damaged goods are being dissed profusely now by other GOPers?

Just look at some of the quotes in this column by New York Daily News Washington Bureau Chief Thomas DeFrank:

“If you aspire to the highest office in the land, then suddenly think your lieutenant governor can do a better job – not exactly a profile in courage,” one party pro told the Daily News.

Few GOP insiders were surprised Palin decided against running for reelection. The Alaska statehouse is too isolated a locale for any politician aspiring to high national office, they said.

“You need to be in the Lower 48 to be credible politically,” a senior adviser to several Republican Presidents noted.

But quitting mid-term with a rambling rant is not the way to get there.

“She proved she couldn’t play in the big leagues last fall and now she’s proven it again,” one of the party’s most prominent kingmakers said. “If you can’t even handle a governorship, there’s no way you can handle the White House.

“She couldn’t win – but now she can’t even run,” added the official, who once was among her most fervent boosters.

“She has an incredibly thin résumé, a serious lack of gravitas, no coherent philosophy and the people around her are amateurs,” another top Republican pol argued. “She’s finished.”

The news about Palin reportedly stunned one of Palin’s biggest cable talk show host supporters — Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. Crooks and Liar’s John Amato has the details here. Among other things, Van Susteren articulated what some conservative talkers said yesterday – Palin was under terrible verbal and legal assault in her state, and also by the old mainstream media and the new media, meaning bloggers.

Writes Amato:”If she can’t handle criticism from bloggers, then how could she handle al-Qaeda?”

Palin’s problem: that’s a line that some GOPers who aren’t smitten with her (which means many Republicans who are not part of the talk radio political culture, Republicans who liked the first George Bush better than the second George Bush, anyone associated with Arizona Senator John McCain’s campaign, and her potential GOP rivals for 2012, if she plans to run).

How bad does Palin’s move look at first glance? Bad enough that even Dick Morris — the former Clinton advisor and present Clinton nemesis who has become a favorite expert quoted by conservatives (even though he is often wrong) says she made a bad move:

But Morris, a Newsmax columnist and one of the leading political minds in the United States, said he would not have advised Palin to resign in the middle of her term. It opens her up to charges that she is a quitter and reinforces an image of her as “flaky” in the mainstream media.

Morris declined to speculate what effect this could have on the GOP, which he said should be focusing on stopping President Barack Obama’s policies in healthcare and other areas. Palin is a formidable figure, he said, and if the GOP mounts a strong defense against Obama she’ll be one of many promising candidates in 2012.

“I think she felt too moored to Alaska and she had to get out of there to solidify her national and international credentials,’’ Morris said. “But that opens yourself up to the attack that you’ve only served half your term, two years. What kind of basis is that to think you could be president?

“I think it would have been better to serve out her term

On the other hand, parhaps Palin should be pleased to read this: perhaps Morris is wrong — again.

But he offered four scenarios that could explain it. Then added:

“I don’t see how this helps her other than to take her out of the line of fire as a governor, but she did need all the experience she can get,” Morris said. “She’s been the mayor of a town of 7,000 people except for two and a half years as governor.

“It’s not at all clear how this helps her.”

(There’s a lot more so go to the NewsMax link to read it all).

Bush political maven Karl Rove also wonders how this makes Palin’s task easier, if she wants to run in 2012:

Former Bush adviser Karl Rove said Palin may find her retirement more politically demanding than her old job as governor.

“Everybody’s going to want to have her come campaign, or appear or make speeches and she no longer has the useful excuse of saying, ‘Look, I would love to help you on that but I got to pay attention to my job,'” Rove told FOX News. “Now she’s going to be torn. It’s going to be very hard for her to say no continually to people who want her to get on the long flight out of Alaska and come down to lower 48.”

Rove said if Palin is interested in running for president in 2012, she’ll have to find a way to maintain her visibility for three years.

“And in the next year or so it’s going to be hard for her to have the same sustained attention that people are going to come to expect now that they see her freed of her responsibilities as governor,” he said.

Longtime GOP consultant Ed Rollins didn’t think it was a terrific idea, either. On CBS he had this to say:

“I think the premise that she doesn’t want to be a lame duck governor — there’s people like Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana, (Miss. Gov.) Haley Barbour, Gov. (Tim) Pawlenty, of Minnesota — they’re all gonna run for president, and they’re finishing their job. The job’s very tough now, and for her to bail out at this point in time, I don’t think it is fair to Alaskans and certainly, I think, damages her long-term career…..Most political people fight to the end. It’s now tough. She didn’t finish the job.”

Rollins pooh-poohed political pros warning that people shouldn’t underestimate Palin’s ability to come back from any position of relative obscurity she may be risking falling into, saying, “You have to remember, everybody else climbed the mountain; she got put on top of it by John McCain. We would not be talking about Sarah Palin if John McCain hadn’t picked her as the v-p (candidate). So, at the end of the day, she’s still gotta earn her stripes.”

Rollins also dismissed thinking that Palin could be better off out of office if she starts seeking the White House next time around. “The new (Alaska) governor, the legislature will move right beyond her,” Rollins asserted, “and I think, to a certain extent, she certainly will have a voice among conservatives, as a viable, political person who’s gonna help the Republican party, (but) I don’t think she can do it as effectively if you’re not a governor…..

….Every step from here on out has to be one that has a strategy to it. This is tactical. She got up (Friday), went out, surprised the political world, which you shouldn’t do, surprised the media world, which you shouldn’t do and, at the end of the day, no one knows why. She’s gotta go answer all the questions and not run away from them: ‘Here’s why I did it, it was for my family, it was for this, and for that reason.’ But the idea, it’s speculation, ‘I’m gonna run for president, I can do it more effectively from outside,’ is not true.”

….She diminished the job of governor. I think, at the end of the day, I’ve never — I’ve been in the business four decades, I’ve never seen a governor ever walk away from the job at mid-term, and I think, at the end of the day, that’s what’s gonna affect her.”

Is Palin rewriting the conventional political wisdom rules — or breaking the conventional wisdom rules and about to become a negative political role model akin to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who decided not to run in a bunch of primaries and put all of his efforts into a sure win (NOT!) Florida primary?

Writes Yael T. Abouhalkah, Kansas City Star Editorial Page columnist:

Sarah Palin’s announcement on Friday to step down as Alaska’s governor looks even more bizarre the day after.

Now, even Republicans are speaking out about how Palin cut and run from political office. In other words, they are painting her as a quitter.

Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said: “I am deeply disappointed that the governor has decided to abandon the state and her constituents before her term has concluded.”

Others were coming to the same conclusion, that Palin’s decision to quit as governor wasn’t exactly a profile in political courage.

As they point out, Palin didn’t give any concrete reasons for quitting, other than not wanting to face the heat of ethical accusations over the coming months.

And her decision to be the “point guard” who passes the ball so her team can win doesn’t make much sense. Sure, the point guard can get an assist on a crucial basket or two.

But in the political world, the governor is the leader, with plenty of political power to make things happen. If Alaska really were humming along under the Palin regime, her decision to quit would be a great loss to the state.

L. A. Times blogger Andew Malcolm has this MUST READ IN FULL post which contains original reporting on why Palin made her decision. Here’s just part of it:

What she’s decided to do, as a former championship basketball player who sees the bipartisan opposition has gained momentum, is take a timeout, get out of the line of fire awhile, write her lucrative book, take care of her children, blog and travel a lot without the responsibilities of elective office. Free her family from scrutiny. And avoid any criticism for ignoring an official job in Anchorage and Juneau.

And see what happens.

Her new SARAHPac remains intact, however, and is still accepting donations to fund her travels. In doing so, she can refine her political style, learn more about more issues, become less naive, hopefully find savvier political advisors more loyal to her than themselves for a change, people accustomed to a larger national stage that she’s willing to trust.

And rebuild her image over the next few years. That’s the thinking. Unlikely perhaps, but not outrageous if a previous elected official can survive a scandal over oral sex in the Oval Office and lying about it.

Her departure now also gives her successor 16 months to be seen as an incumbent for the 2010 gubernatorial election he says he’ll seek to win.

In one sense, in the world of national American politics this is all incredibly naive. For whatever reason — including incalculable unfair criticism and stereotyped media coverage that would never ever be tolerated for a male officeholder – she’s in a huge hole, partly of her own making.

She’s made numerous mistakes, partly from inexperience, partly from poor strategic advice. While Mitt Romney goes quietly about the business of building up political owe-sies by campaigning tirelessly for others all over the country, building his contacts and allegiances out of sight and using his long experience to appear statesmanlike, Palin is publicly squabbling with the likes of a grumpy, fading late-night TV celebrity who made a rape joke about her daughter.

It’s so soap-operey. Those awful slings about looking like trailer trash wouldn’t be aimed at a male Gomer Pyle. But it comes with the turf. Hillary Clinton’s long experience with that thickened her skin.

And what can this other shoe that many think is about to drop be?

Right now it’s all sheer speculation or informed reporting speculation (which means it’s being trumpeted and out there now but the writers and news outlets won’t talk about it much if it proves to be wrong) but here are the key scenarios:

*A TV SHOW: There’s a lot of new and old media speculation that Rupert Murdoch might gobble Palin up because she’s not just a popular conservative commodity, but also has charisma and journalism background. Will she get her own show? FREE ADVICE FOR SARAH PALIN: Here’s a title for your show that you can use, at no charge. Palilng Around With Palin or if it’s entertainment You Betchya Life.

*A REAGAN/HILLARY CLINTON STYLE LISTENING TOUR: She’ll be hyping her book, speaking far and wide — do op-eds, model herself after Newt Gingrich and create some kind of group or even think tank, maybe even become a blogger (hey, doyawannaexchangelinks?). She’ll re-define herself as an issue person and start pulling away from her present media image that partially defines her as someone involved in spats with comedians and sons-in-laws. Will we see a Palin Contract For America?

*A NEW SCANDAL: Several reports suggest one might coming. The Daily Beast’s Max Blumenthal:

Many political observers in Alaska are fixated on rumors that federal investigators have been seizing paperwork from SBS in recent months, searching for evidence that Palin and her husband Todd steered lucrative contracts to the well-connected company in exchange for gifts like the construction of their home on pristine Lake Lucille in 2002. The home was built just two months before Palin began campaigning for governor, a job which would have provided her enhanced power to grant building contracts in the wide-open state.

SBS has close ties to the Palins. The company has not only sponsored Todd Palin’s snowmobile team, according to the Village Voice’s Wayne Barrett, it hired Sarah Palin to do a statewide television commercial in 2004.

Though Todd Palin told Fox News he built his Lake Lucille home with the help of a few “buddies,” according to Barrett’s report, public records revealed that SBS supplied the materials for the house. While serving as mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin blocked an initiative that would have required the public filing of building permits—thus momentarily preventing the revelation of such suspicious information.

Just months before Palin left city hall to campaign for governor, she awarded a contract to SBS to help build the $13 million Wasilla Sports Complex. The most expensive building project in Wasilla history, the complex cost the city an additional $1.3 million in legal fees and threw it into severe long-term debt. For SBS, however, the bloated and bungled project was a cash cow.

Prior to her sudden announcement, Palin gave every indication that she intended to complete her tenure as governor.

But the bottom line is this:

The election results clearly showed that, if Palin was to go beyond her showing in 2008 and truly wanted to have a serious shot at 2012, she needed to expand her base, and be seen doing things or saying things that would put her in a better light with women voters, moderates, centrists and Democratic voters who don’t belong to the party’s farthest left wing.

Her resignation — and the negative publicity and speculation surrounding it — won’t help her to that end one bit.


–Glenn Reynolds offers a National Review quote and a comment of his own:

GERAGHTY: “The lesson that the ruthless corners of the political world will take from the rise, fall, and departure of Sarah Palin that if you attack a politician’s children nastily enough and relentlessly enough, you can get anybody to quit.”

And I don’t want to hear any of that dishonest have-you-no-decency posturing from the usual moral poseurs if that happens to somebody they like. They have sown the wind.

–Andrew Sullivan offers this video of him reacting to it.

My DD on Palin’s press conference speech:

Washington’s Farewell Address it’s not. The speech is rambling and incoherent, full of meaningless platitudes. Count the number of times she mentions “no more politics as usual.”…She does hint a continuing role in politics. I’m sure that the among a certain subset of conservatives, Sarah Palin can do no wrong. Thankfully, there is a saner set.

Joe Katzman:

I will say this. The 2 most common analytical mistakes people make when thinking about the GOP are (1) thinking in terms of the last election; or (2) thinking in terms of the 1980s. Both are common inside the party – and neither is really relevant. This next Presidential election is going to be strongly driven by events, and by the America we’ll be looking over the next 2-3 years. Which could well be a rather different, and less happy, place. One in which Reagan’s solutions are only partly applicable.

I see few signs that the GOP is really coming to grips with this, but eventually it will. The party that begins to come together within the malestrom of upcoming events may not be like the party of today, in important ways. And it may not happen by 2012. If Palin accelerates or catalyzes that process somehow, it would be a huge contribution – whether or not she runs.

Obsidian Wings:

Well, this should end the whole “Sarah Palin is bizarre and erratic” meme…..Today only makes sense if she either (1) is done with politics entirely, or (2) is a looney toon. The whole thing was just so poorly timed — and the press narrative so bad — that it’s hard to believe a credible presidential candidate would do it.

And lest we forget, this is the person the 72-year John McCain selected to be the Vice President of the United States.

The Gun Toting Liberal:

And now, Alaska Governor Todd Sarah Palin has announced she has made the decision to further her media scrutiny career by leaving her governorship, effective July 26th of this year (KTTU.Com). Let me tell you — NOBODY saw this coming, by the way — or I’d have reported it. Speculators say she’s gambling it all on “Red” for the presidency, which would in a way be sort of cool — a former classmate becomes president. On the other hand, it “ain’t gonna happen”. Her extremely UNPRESIDENTIAL reaction to David Letterman’s bad joke about her daughter followed by not only one, but TWO apologies has guaranteed she will slip into the “black hole” of American politics; a place shared by Tom Daschle, Rick Santorum and more than a handful of other “use ta’ be’s”. That’s not an “insider prediction” (although, my “insider” does agree it’d be tough for her to come back from that one) — that’s an official GTL™ prediction.

skippy (who writes all in lower case and invented the term “Blogtopia”):

she probably needs to find some writers to come up w/jokes about dave letterman’s family.

but seriously folks (we love saying that after making a joke about jokes…it’s all so “meta”), it’s no surprise that maggie o’connell decided not to run for re-election. everybody this side of ron paul knows she’s planning to go for the presidency in 2012, and, as she proved last year, it’s hard for her to run and chew gum govern @ the same time.

however, nobody has any idea why she’s quitting early. maybe she wants to set a good example for mark sanford. maybe she’s got her own appalachian trail to hike. maybe she can’t take all the heat from that flaming liberal rag politico.

personally, we would not be surprised if it had somethign to do w/embarassment over todd’s affiliation w/the alaska secessionist independence party. but we will have to wait and see if the truth comes out.

Hilzoy on Washington Monthly:

My unfounded speculation: I do not believe for a moment that this is about taking time off to prepare for 2012. Nothing I know about Sarah Palin leads me to believe that she would give up power voluntarily, let alone for something that is such a long shot, and in such a transparently self-destructive way.

I think that there’s something we don’t know about: either a serious health problem or a serious scandal. In either case, it would, I think, have to be a really big deal to make her react in this way. She has shown herself to be more than capable of brushing off smaller scandals, national embarrassment, and a whole host of other things. She did not step down from the governorship when she gave birth to a child with special needs, or when she was asked to be McCain’s running-mate. She did not decline McCain’s offer because of the potential embarrassment, either to her or her family, of her daughter being unmarried and pregnant. She is no shrinking violet.

Nor, as I said earlier, does she strike me as someone who would give up power without a very, very compelling reason.

Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey thinks this is it for Palin:

I’ve seen a myriad of excuses on Twitter and e-mail for this bizarre resignation: her legal bills are too high, she’s putting her family first, she doesn’t want to distract Alaskans because of cheap-shot ethics complaints that are distracting everyone. None of those make any sense. If the spotlight was too much, then she shouldn’t have run for office in the first place. If she’s quitting because people are taking potshots at her, then she’s not the kind of political fighter we thought she was. The legal bills might be a rational reason, but thoroughly insufficient for betraying the people who put her in charge of Alaska — and her memoirs would have paid for her legal bills many times over, had she completed her term.

There’s really no excuse, and what Rich Lowry also calls her “terrible,” “rambling,” and “not at all persuasive” statement showed that. Unless there was a serious illness or a serious scandal, the resignation on the grounds Palin gave is simply incomprehensible. She has destroyed her own credibility in a single day.

I liked Sarah Palin and supported her inclusion on the GOP ticket last fall. I thought she had more toughness than this. It’s a big disappointment, and it’s the end of any hope of Palin getting taken seriously as a politician on the national level in the future.

Time’s Mark Halperin offers 9 Pieces of “Analysis” About Sarah Palin’s Decision That Are Flat-Out Totally Wrong
Democratic strategist Paul Begala offers a must-read-in-full take on The Huffington Post. Here are just two sections of it:

It was an almost impossible mission, but in resigning from office with 17 months to go in her first term, Sarah Palin has made herself the bull goose loony of the GOP.

Let’s stipulate that if there is some heretofore unknown personal, medical or family crisis, this was the right move. But Gov. Palin didn’t say anything like that. Her statement was incoherent, bizarre and juvenile. The text, as posted on Gov. Palin’s official website (here), uses 2,549 words and 18 exclamation points. Lincoln freed the slaves with 719 words and nary an exclamation; Mr. Jefferson declared our independence in 1,322 words and, again, no exclamation points. Nixon resigned the presidency in 1,796 words — still no exclamation points. Gov. Palin capitalized words at random – whole words, like “TO,” “HELP,” and “AND,” and the first letter of “Troops.”

Gov. Palin’s official announcement that she is resigning as chief executive of the great state of Alaska had all the depth and gravitas of a 13-year-old’s review of the Jonas Brothers’ album on Facebook. She even quoted her parents’ refrigerator magnet. (Note to self: if one of my kids becomes governor, throw away the refrigerator magnet that says: “Murray’s Oyster Bar: We Shuck Em, You Suck Em!”) She put her son’s name in quotations marks. Why? Who knows. She writes, “I promised efficiencies and effectiveness!?” Was she exclaiming or questioning? I get it: both!

His ending:

Again and again in her statement, Gov. Palin returned to the nettlesome ethics inquiries that have been visited upon her since she signed on to be John McCain’s running mate. No doubt they are annoying. But does anyone believe that’s why she’s resigning? No, there’s more to this story. And Ms. Palin’s resignation only increases the chances that we will all know the rest of the story soon. Or, as she might put it:

We will all KNOW the “rest of the Story” *((SOON!))*

–Talk Left offers building pictures that suggest there could be an upcoming “housegage” scandal. Jeralyn writes:

As to theories she’s resigning to hit the lecture circuit or become a cable news pundit to pay her legal bills, didn’t she just get a fat book contract that should take care of those?

Whatever her reasons for resigning, I suspect her political career is over. She can run around the country from now until 2012, and she’s not going to be nominated for President. Memo to Mrs. Palin: We’re just not that into you.

Josh Painter at Red State is enjoying the media scramble and says GOPers should trust Palin. It’s a long post that must be read completely but here are a few parts of it:

If Sarah Palin had intended to make media heads collectively explode, she couldn’t have planned it better. She called a press conference on short notice, then announced that not only would she not seek a second term as Alaska’s governor, but she intended to resign later this month. All that would remain for her to do is pop some Orville’s, sit back and enjoy the show as the punditocracy begins wildly speculating about that which it does not know. As crazy as this sounds, consider how crazy the reaction has been so far to her announcement…

…And speaking of acting, people are throwing fits left and right. On the left the anti-Palinists are mocking and taunting the Palinists. Some of the more cultish Palinists find their undergarmets much more twisted than some more thoughtful conservative observers who are angrily denouncing the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate for “letting us down” after “we defended her.” As if she didn’t deserve defending regardless of her future political intentions. The same political opponents are denouncing her for quitting her job that were trying to see that she doesn’t keep it. That would be the hypocrite wing of the Democrat Party.


…..Some in the hostile media are speculating that another running shoe is about to fall. They talk wistfully of impending scandal. Some less hostile observers wonder if, God forbid, there is some medical issue either with the governor herself or someone close to her. CNN’s Rick Sanchez has even questioned if she may be pregnant with her sixth child. Some have asked if there is some other impending crisis in Gov. Palin’s family that she may need to deal with. Others speculate that she just wants to take a time out, spend some time with her family, write her book and return to the political wars with her batteries recharged. Whatever her reason or reasons for resigning her governorship must be good ones. This is not a woman who likes to quit or has shown much propensity to do so in the past.

This speculation business is easy, but unfortunately, it’s accomplishes little. It will not stop until Sarah Palin makes it stop by telling us what she plans to do. I’m willing to give her time to do that. I will neither condemn her nor cry in my beer if she decides not to run for president. God knows she has given much and received little reward and much punishment for herself and her family. Gov. Palin saved the GOP and John McCain from an electoral blowout of McGovern proportions, and she made Saxby Chambliss’ return to the U.S. Senate a sure thing with a safety margin of 10 insurance points. She’s been fighting for missile defense, fiscal restraint and energy security, among other things. She’s defended young girls and women of all ages against misogynistic attacks by dirty men both young and old. And she has been a source of encouragement to women everywhere to be all that they can be, and not just in the U.S. Army.

Jonathan Turley:

That is a curious rationale since voters probably thought that they were voting for a full term — since that is what she was running for when she asked for their vote. Under this logic, every term would be cut short by roughly a year if the incumbent was not looking for a second term. Moreover, instead of serving as a lame duck governor, she has given Alaska a governor who was not elected to that particular office. Since when is completing one’s promised term “another dose of politics as usual.” That would seem more like a promise as usual.


The cartoon by Monte Wolverton, Cagle Cartoons, is copyrighted and licensed to run on TMV. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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