ethics complaints filed against her in the state of Alaska. (Well, jeez, Sarah... maybe you could clean up your act!)
She made the announcement on the Friday before the July 4 weekend. That, of course, was calculated to minimize the splash in the media. Coming on the heels of the death of Michael Jackson and on a Friday when many Americans are heading for the beach or the mountains, her announcement will be old news by Monday morning, when everyone gets back into their routines.
But the resignation is puzzling. Sarah Palin continues to be a compelling figure to the religious zealots, the plebs of the Republican party. She has continued to maintain a presence in national political circles, making speeches, pulling publicity stunts. So why the apparent sudden change of heart?
Here's what I think.
Somebody high up in the Republican party gave her the word: Hit the road, honey.
Despite the enthusiastic support Ms. Palin enjoys from the "base" of the party, some (so far unidentified) mucky-mucks in the Republican party wanted her gone. Consider: beyond the GOP base, Sarah Palin is loathed, even by some within the Republican party. Earlier this week, Vanity Fair published an article about Ms. Palin, quoting anonymous sources in the McCain/Palin presidential campaign, who said that she was a diva, undisciplined, hard to manage, hard to get along with.
My speculation is that Republican kingmakers were uncomfortable with the adulation Sarah Palin was getting. And as other potential Republican candidates for the 2012 race imploded (Mark Sanford, with his public midlife crisis, Rick Perry, with his acid flashback to 1861, John Ensign, with his pathetic confessions of adultery) these kingmakers began to fear that Sarah Palin might be the only candidate left standing by the time the nominating process started. Nightmare visions of a landslide defeat began to haunt their dreams.
The Republican party is in enough trouble, already. To nominate an intellectual lightweight, a laughably unqualified Alaskan rube, and then to have her obliterated in the general election might well be the final nail in the coffin.
So, some group of somebodies got together and made a decision. "We've got to rid ourselves of this woman." Somewhere along the line somebody flew up to Anchorage, got Sarah (and probably Todd, Sarah's "first dude") in a room, and there was a conversation. I imagine it went something like this:
GOP operative: Nice run, kid. But it's over. It's not your time.
GOP operative: Don't you want to spend more time with your family? Your son, Trig, for example. He needs you.
Sarah: What are you talking about? I'm Sarah Barracuda. People love me.
GOP operative: Sarah, the best time to exit the stage is when the audience is howling for more.
Sarah: But I'm a contender for the Republican nomination.
GOP operative: Sarah, let me put it to you this way. You're not rich, are you?
Sarah: No way.
GOP operative: You can't really afford heavy legal bills defending yourself against ethics complaints, can you?
Todd, the first dude: You've made your point. What's in it for us?
GOP operative: If Sarah weren't constrained by her duties as Alaska's governor, she could probably make a lot of money on the lecture circuit, with television appearances, think tanks. Potentially, millions of dollars. In fact, I probably know some people I could put you in touch with...
Sarah: What do you think, Todd?
Todd, the first dude: Life was a lot simpler when all I had to worry about was training my dogs for the Iditarod.
Sarah: I'll make a statement on Friday.
Of course, this is all just speculation on my part. Some are saying that the resignation is a preparatory step for a run for the White House. That seems pretty far-fetched to me. And dig this little whine that Sarah included in her rambling statement: “You are naive if you don’t see a full-court press from the national level picking away a good point guard.”
That ices it for me. She was forced out from within the Republican party. Sarah, your down-home treachery and back-stabbing worked fine in backwoods Alaska. But when you accepted John McCain's offer and joined the ticket, you entered the Big Leagues. To continue with the basketball analogy: you went from college intramural straight to the NBA. You drove to the hoop, you put it up, and the ball got swatted right back into your face. Better for you to just hang outside the 3-point line and hope they forget about you.