Saturday 4 July 2009

What the Palin resignation means

Some argue that it would be easier for Palin to run for president as an ex-governor, rather than as an incumbent. The head of the Republican Governor’s Association said “part of her decision is she wants to spend more time campaigning for candidates," which is what you do when you want to run yourself later on – build a tidy little pile of IOU’s. Senator Lisa Murkowski thinks Palin wants her Senate seat; she immediately slammed Palin for abandoning her constituents.

But for Palin, the situation in Alaska is really bad -– Alaskans are fed up with her “leadership”, her lack of accomplishments, and the endless scandals (including the devastating Vanity Fair report), and more scandals may be coming. The scandals have wiped out the family finances. Palin’s own spokeswoman attributed the decision to the ethics complaints.

And she has fewer friends than she thinks. The McCain people, and other Republicans, are still angry at the way she helped torpedo the GOP in 2008. McCain allies called her behaviour “nutty” and said "Good point guards don't quit and walk off the court."

And that in itself is a critical issue. Quitting in the middle of a term, and then trying to stay in politics, is unheard of. And it will be progressively more difficult to portray her as a credible commander in chief after a long series of incidents in which she has simply run away – run away from the press in the campaign, run away from a number of speaking engagements, and now, run away from her troubles in Alaska.

She may also have shot herself in the foot with some of her core supporters. Today was supposed to be Tea Party II, where millions of Americans rose up against Obama. Now, whatever the teabaggers accomplish will be drowned out by the Palin announcement –- which is ironic since the teabaggers are Palin’s core supporters.

In short, Palin’s decision has made it harder to achieve her ambitions. So either she is too clueless to see that, or she really does need to escape all the heat she has brought down on herself in Alaska. Or both.

One guy who is happy today is Mike Huckabee. Before Palin quit, Huckabee faced the prospect of fighting Palin for the far-right voters in the Iowa primary; now he has the upper hand with that constituency.

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