But seriously, you have to ask WHY? Why did she resign her governorship? Why so sudden that it caught even her staff unprepared?
Best theories I can think of:
1) Palin genuinely wanted to leave the national spotlight. After months of public bashing, especially all the salacious stories about her kids, she's had enough. In this, I wouldn't blame Letterman, which was sooooo last month, but the more recent Vanity Fair article that painted such an unflattering light and exposed how unpopular she was getting inside her own state.
Problem with this theory: This doesn't entirely jibe with what we've seen of Palin's psyche, and with her ambition. Ambitious people don't quit like this: not haphazardly, always with a plan, always with something right there waiting for them that would be a bigger better prize. If this is true, a run for the Presidency is clearly out of the question, because a hostile primary contest against the other likely contenders (Romney, Huckabee, Pawlenty) would be just as spiteful as what she's been getting this past year. So if this is Palin's reason for leaving now, then she's left for good, and there is no presidential run in her future...
2) Palin felt confined in the governorship job and felt resigning would free her to run a national campaign. Let's be realistic: Alaska is a sparsely populated state miles away from the country's centers of power (DC, NYC, LA, even Chicago and Atlanta). Anything she does of any merit wouldn't impact a whole lot of people, and other than basic management needs - improving schools, child care, and other social services that Republicans simply don't do - there's little reason to use Alaska as a state-level laboratory for policy innovations (too small a population to be useful). When she talked about being a "lame duck" during her resignation speech, this was partly what she's referring to: knowing that she wasn't going to run for a second term in 2010, there's nothing left at her job to hold her interest or provide opportunities to show off to the nation any leadership skills she thinks she has.
The other part of this theory is the idea that this frees her up to run a national campaign. It surely does: no more need to hang aboot Juneau, she can travel nationwide to fund-raise for herself and for others during midterms. She can get any number of gigs: big-ticket name for the guest speaker circuit; talk show on FOX (who else would take her?); lecturer/part-time college professor at a major poli-sci university; Las Vegas greeter; anything else that would appeal to her interests and keep her name on the front pages. She could argue that it would be unfair to split her time between governing and campaigning, and besides, others have quit before to focus on campaigns.
Problem with this theory: The certainty that she quit her governor job TOO SOON. Palin could well have waited until the 2010 midterms were over to see what the revamped landscape would be like, what the GOP fortunes would be like, and still have 2 full years to campaign hard for funds. As a popular figure for the Far Right, getting money should never be a problem (well, until her next gaffe...). As for being a "lame duck" even lame ducks can get things done during their last few months in office, by being proactive, by being effective, by getting members of her own party to join in efforts that would A) look good in the papers and B) show that she was still working hard for her paycheck. As for others who quit their jobs to focus on campaigning... that never really worked out well, for example Bob Dole's quitting the Senate so he could focus full-time on his 1996 Presidential campaign. And in Dole's case, he quit only after securing his nomination, after 20-plus years of effective leadership in the Senate and after proving his mad skills. Most people in politics who quit their job usually did so - like Obama quitting his Senate seat after November 2008 Election Day - because they'd won a higher office. Palin's sparse resume didn't give her the luxury of quitting what has been her highest-value job, one she's barely had for 2 years and quit on with another 1 1/2 years to go.
Palin's opponents are going to have a field day with this if she does run in the 2012 primaries. What are now the three major candidates - Romney, Huckabee and Pawlenty - don't have a problem looking like quitters: Romney declined to run a second term as Governor but still finished out his term; Huckabee's governorship started by finishing out his predecessor's term (guy was convicted of a felony and forced from office) and getting elected twice on his own, completing both terms; Pawlenty doesn't face term limits in his state, but is currently insisting to finish out his second term by 2010, leaving him two good years to fund-raise for the 2012 Presidential campaign.
3) There was a scandal coming. This was the first thought amongst Palin's critics, and the early circumstantial evidence pointed to it:
- Palin scheduled the press conference so suddenly that even local media rushing to the scene barely made it.
- Said conference was sparsely attended, her handlers apparently unable to round up a good-sized crowd to cheer her on such short notice.
- The speech Palin gave was best described as "rambling": relying too much on cliches that ran against each other; points being made that were never followed up later on in the speech; signs that the speech wasn't vetted or edited by professional speechwriters.
- The fact the speech was delivered on a Friday, traditionally known as a Dump Day when politicians simply 'dump' damaging facts/reports/notices because the mainstream media is set to take the whole weekend off (and what a weekend this was, Fourth of July when EVERYBODY
including Mark Sanfordsorry including the Comedy Central crew was going to be on vacation).
- The basic fact this was coming completely out of the blue: usually politicians send out feelers, drop hints, promote unusual legislation, start acting in certain ways that suggest moving on to other things, stuff like that. Local media - which is supposed to have their ears to the ground - hadn't been picking up any signs this was going to happen.
Problem with this theory: as Huckabee mentioned this Sunday, EVERYBODY at the state level gets hit with ethics probes, usually by disgruntled rivals looking for any means to drive you from office ("I had constant ethics complaints filed against me, even by newspaper editors, and a lot of it was because if they can’t attack you on policy...they just absolutely bombard you with personal attacks and keep you tied up in court...") Palin had for the most part survived most of the ethics challenges, although I think there's still one or two still under review. And that reported FBI probe into Palin's house supposedly built by the company that built her town's sports complex was debunked after a few phone calls. Unless there's a completely new scandal no one but Palin and a few others know about, this isn't the reason Palin's quitting...
4) Palin is batsh-t insane. Something in her ego simply told her to jump ship and swim for shore.
Problem with this theory: You'd think somebody in her family and circle of friends would check on her medications...
And thus did the GOP 2012 Doomwatch march on...