In a way, at this point, it is hard to be shocked by anything Sarah Palin does. Her time on the national political stage has been marked by scandal, controversy, and general wackiness all around.
It's been almost a year since John McCain selected Sarah Palin to be his running mate in the 2008 election; our first introduction to Palin was as Sarah Barracuda, the pitbull in lipstick, the threat that could steal disenchanted Clinton supporters away from the Obama/Biden ticket based only on the fact Palin and Clinton shared a gender, and little else, in terms of policy or political views.
But weeks later, the weirdness kicked in and only snowballed from there; the rumors, and later confirmation of, Bristol's pregnancy, the rumors that Palin might not have given birth to her son, Trig, the Troopergate scandal, the Bridge to Nowhere, the devastating Tina Fey impression, the painful Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric interviews, the winking issues during her Vice Presidential debates, and the $150,000 spent on clothes and makeup during her time on the trail. It got to the point where a "shocking" story about Sarah Palin wasn't actually shocking at all, but frustrating, in that it appeared that Palin remained unfazed by the negative press and always seemed to find a way to spin it to her advantage.
So when Palin resigned on Friday, in the midst of a holiday news dump, no less, it was both shocking and, in a way, not surprising at all. Palin herself claims that she "is not wired to operate under the same politics as usual," and her decision to step down, effective July 26, has left many wondering what her true motivations for leaving her post might be.
Palin says it's because she feels she can do more for her country without the restraints of her governmental position: "I've never thought I needed a title before one's name to forge progress in America," she posted on her Facebook page yesterday, "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." Palin also says that she's tired of the negative press, the attacks on her family, and being the victim of "political bloodsport." But, as is typical with the Sarah Palin Show, not everyone buys these excuses.
Shannyn Moore, a blogger for the Huffington Post, put up a post on Friday afternoon claiming "for weeks the rumors of a criminal investigation against the governor have been brewing. They are rumors, but are swirling fresh again with Palin's resignation." Palin's attorney, Thomas Van Flein, has already come out on record to warn bloggers like Moore against posting rumors regarding the "true" reasons behind Palin's resignation: "This is to provide notice to Ms. Moore, and those who re-publish the defamation, such as Huffington Post, MSNBC, the New York Times and The Washington Post, that the Palins will not allow them to propagate defamatory material without answering to this in a court of law."
But while Moore and other bloggers may be threatened by Van Flein, the questions as to why Palin chose to resign won't go away anytime soon; it has long been thought that Palin was gearing up for a Presidential run in 2012—a resignation before the end of her first term is not exactly the type of behavior one expects from a candidate getting ready to hit the national stage once again. Her fellow Alaskan lawmakers claim they feel "abandoned" by their governor and demand an explanation beyond "a higher calling" for her sudden departure from her elected position.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski has released a fairly scathing statement on Palin's departure: "I am deeply disappointed that the Governor has decided to abandon the State and her constituents before her term has concluded," while Karl Rove believes her resignation "hurts" her chances of running for President in 2012. "When you're a sitting governor, you have the tactical advantage if you're thinking about running for president of turning down a lot of things with an excuse that people will accept. 'I've got a job to do as governor.' She's now removed that."
John Weaver, a former adviser to John McCain, agrees with Rove: "I wouldn't call this a strategy. This makes no sense. The way for her to increase her chances in 2012 is to be reelected in 2010." McCain, however, has spoken out in support of his former running mate, noting that Palin "will continue to play an important leadership role in the Republican Party and our nation."
As it stands, Palin's resignation fits in with the rest of her strange career over the past year or so: there are plenty of rumors, plenty of grand statements, plenty of high-profile supporters and detractors, and plenty of questions that remain unanswered. If it were ANYONE else, would there be such interest? It's hard to say, but our refusal to stop questioning Palin's motives, despite her insistence that her resignation is a personal one, based on what she believes is best for her state and her family, is perhaps a testament to our inability to ever really know who Sarah Palin is or what Sarah Palin truly means, a direct result of the seemingly unending controversies that continue to seep out of Wasilla, Alaska.
If anything, Palin's resignation is just the latest episode of the strange and often bewildering Sarah Palin Show, and though Palin and those who support her, criticize her, or simply seek to understand her will be releasing various statements on what's next for the soon-to-be former Governor of Alaska, like any captivating program, all we can really do is sit back and tune in for the next episode—which, of course, we will. And perhaps, in that way, Sarah Palin is getting exactly what she wants.
Palin Fires Back At Press On Facebook [Politico]
Palin Attorney Warns Press On "Defamatory Material" [Politico]
Shannyn Moore: Sarah Palin Resigning As Alaska's Governor[HuffingtonPost]
Why Sarah Palin Quit [Time]
McCain Says Palin To Play Leadership Role As Ex-Governor [Reuters]
Rove Cold On Palin's Move: It "Hurts" Her Chances In 2012 [Huffington Post]
Palin Fires Back At Press On Facebook [Politico]
Murkowski Blasts Palin: You Abandoned Our State [HuffingtonPost]
Palin Cites "Higher Calling" In Quitting [MSNBC]