Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s apparent exit from politics is as inscrutable as her meteoric rise to national prominence.
Last week, she held an unexpected press conference, where she announced she would not run for re-election and dropped the blockbuster news that she was also resigning from office in the middle of her term.
As one commentator put it: Who would have thought anything could break through the coverage of Michael Jackson’s death and of the latest episode in South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s love triangle?
Unlike her well-delivered GOP convention speech, this one seemed more authentically Sarah Palin. She dodged, meandered, and offered clichés and disconnected stories — while avoiding direct answers. She took no questions. She made allusions to her enemies. She made bold promises about changing the direction of the nation, but offered no specifics about how she would try to effect such change. It was bizarre.
“I am determined to take the right path for Alaska even though it is not the easiest path,” the governor said in her official statement. “Once I decided not to run for re-election, I also felt that to embrace the conventional ‘Lame Duck’ status in this particular climate would just be another dose of ‘politics as usual,’ something I campaigned against and will always oppose.
“It is my duty to always protect our great state. With that in mind, my family and I determined that it is best to make a difference this summer, and I am willing to change things, so that this administration, with its positive agenda, its accomplishments, and its successful road to an incredible future, can continue without interruption and with great administrative and legislative success.”
No one outside the Palin clan has any clue what that means, which is why her announcement led to instant speculation. Most concluded her political career is over. Some pundits, however, believe she is planning a presidential bid. Others speculate — and there is nothing to go on beyond raw speculation — that another scandal is about to drop. She did refer to the large amount of time she spends dealing with ethics complaints that have been lodged against her.
The announcement also comes soon after a recent round of news reports revealing bitterness from within the McCain presidential campaign. Writes Vanity Fair’s Todd Purdum: “The top McCain aides who had tried hard to work with Palin … were barely on speaking terms with her, and news organizations were reporting that anonymous McCain aides saw Palin as a ‘diva’ and a ‘whack job.’”
Although we agree with many of Palin’s stated policy positions, we never could understand the Republican Party’s fascination with her, given her inability to clearly articulate her viewpoints, her lack of intellectual heft and her embrace of cloying folksy platitudes that energized the party’s base but seemed a poor substitute for serious ideas and true accomplishment.
As the current president pursues disastrous policies that expand the size of government, the country desperately needs a re-energized Republican Party that can make a compelling case for limited government. It’s clear to us that Palin is not that voice. We wish her the best in her new pursuits, but hope that seeking national political office is not one of them.