By now, the speculation about Sarah Palin’s abrupt and startling resignation has been burning up both the Internet and the mainstream media. The conjecture both in newspapers and on the blogs ranges from guesses that she is tired of the public ridicule she and her family have suffered to suspicions that a scandal is about to break. This includes dark mutterings on some of the progressive blogs about possible criminal indictments coming down in Alaska.
Yeah, right. Absent an actual smoking gun, I’m going to go with some more mundane theories about the what and why.
The most common belief is that being governor of a state so far from the mainland – and the main media markets – is limiting to any candidate with presidential aspirations.
If Palin were to finish out her term, it would limit the amount of time she could devote to campaigning for the two gubernatorial races this year – one in Virginia and the other in New Jersey – as well as prevent her from attending prominent party events that would keep her in the national spotlight. It also would curtail her participation in events in early primary states like New Hampshire and Iowa, where candidates have to start laying down their campaign groundwork and building grassroots support early. Time-consuming retail politics is crucial particularly in those two states. Palin may have concluded, correctly, that fulfilling her obligations to Alaska was incompatible with seeking higher office given the vast distance of Alaska to the rest of the nation.
There is a big problem with that line of thought, though. Quitting as governor does not help her build her credentials, even with some conservative Republicans. She already suffers the disadvantage of being viewed by many voters, as well as pundits, as too inexperienced and unprepared to even be vice president. I can’t imagine how quitting before the end of her first term helps her to be taken seriously for national office. It just appears to be too whimsical a move.
But there is another, simpler explanation for her resignation. She may truly no longer be interested in running in 2012. Nevertheless, just because she may no longer be interested in elective office, that doesn’t mean she wants to completely give up the limelight or relinquish her very real influence among Republicans. By leaving the Governor’s Mansion in Alaska, she could easily pick up a spot as a pundit herself. Should she want it, I’m sure Fox News would happily give her a primetime spot and a show of her own. And that could be portable. She could work from a studio up in Alaska. She could take her show on the road and also campaign for other Republicans.
Sarah may no longer crave the presidency, but that doesn’t mean she wants to give up the spotlight. In fact, she could be far more influential, given her popularity with the GOP base, as a talking head and celebrity guest campaigner and fundraiser for other candidates.
Oh, and did anybody mention that she could also make far more money doing so? I’m sure the financial gain is not her main motivator. But it sure does sweeten the pot, if that is what she wants to do anyway.