America’s most entertaining and polarizing politician is leaving electoral politics. Since Sarah Palin also seems to be one of our most impulsive politicians perhaps her departure is only momentary.
Palin stunned the world of conventional politics earlier this month by announcing that she was quitting the Alaska governor’s office with 18 months remaining in her term. Mysteriously, she told Alaskans she was giving up the state’s top job so "I will be able to fight even harder for you." She, also mysteriously, warned Alaskans to "be wary of accepting government largesse," an odd thing to say in a state that annually ranks number one in federal dollars received per capita.
After her run for the vice presidency with John McCain made her a rising Republican star, the textbook course for her career would have been to finish out her term as governor, possibly run for a second term if she could swing it and quietly immerse herself in national and international issues in preparation for a return to the national stage in 2012 or perhaps 2016.
She could easily raise the funds to do it. Her SarahPAC has more than $1 million on hand even now. And her book contract and a speaking tour would keep her in the public eye. She would have to address a serious political problem: While she is wildly popular among Republicans, she is considerably less so among Democrats and independents.
Palin has said that in the interest of bipartisanship she will campaign for both Republicans and conservative Democrats in 2010, a plan that, if she goes through with it, will hardly endear her to the GOP leadership.
If her announcement that she was quitting the governorship was rambling and occasionally incoherent, her remarks on actually leaving office Sunday had the fire and flash of 2008.
She warned against a heretofore-unknown villain — "delicate, tiny celebrity starlets" pushing an anti-hunting agenda: "Hollywood needs to know we eat, therefore we hunt." And she had this loopy non sequitur for the media: "How about in honor of the American soldier you quit makin’ things up."
In all deference to Palin, you couldn’t make this stuff up. She is truly her own person and we look forward to the next stage of her career.