Is Palin's national political career over?

The news of Sarah Palin’s resignation as governor came during my show this afternoon, where we spent most of an hour discussing it with the chatizens and my co-host Duane Patterson.  I’ve had a chance to watch the video of her announcement and read through dozens of Twitter messages back and forth attempting to rationalize this, and still, it simply can’t be rationalized on the basis of what Palin said today.  It’s easily the most bizarre resignation I’ve seen, and just about senseless.

The lame-duck explanation was the most incoherent part of the entire 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.”

Bear in mind that the election isn’t next month but about 16 months from now, in November 2010.  Using this logic, Palin should never have run for the first term unless she was willing to run for the second, and not run for either if she wasn’t willing (or legally able) to run for a third.  Politicians don’t enter lame-duck status until their successor has already been elected and they’re running out the rest of the term. And all politicians become lame ducks at some point — and none of them quit just to avoid it.

Also, how can Palin quit because she didn’t want to deal with being a lame duck and claim in the same breath that her administration would “continue without interruption”?  She just interrupted it!  If she thinks that being a “lame duck” would hamper her ability to push her agenda in the state’s capital, how does she think that an unelected Sean Parnell is going to get it done?

If it’s her duty to always “protect” Alaska, then that strongly implies not walking away from the responsibility of governing it — a responsibility she sought, and with which her constituents trusted her to execute.  No one leads by quitting.  No one leads by quitting.  Palin’s abandoning  her post, and at least from her own description, doing it because she doesn’t want to deal with the issues of being a “lame duck,” a status all politicians have to handle at some point.

I’ve seen a myriad of excuses on Twitter and e-mail for this bizarre resignation: her legal bills are too high, she’s putting her family first, she doesn’t want to distract Alaskans because of cheap-shot ethics complaints that are distracting everyone.  None of those make any sense.  If the spotlight was too much, then she shouldn’t have run for office in the first place.  If she’s quitting because people are taking potshots at her, then she’s not the kind of political fighter we thought she was.  The legal bills might be a rational reason, but thoroughly insufficient for betraying the people who put her in charge of Alaska — and her memoirs would have paid for her legal bills many times over, had she completed her term.

There’s really no excuse, and what Rich Lowry also calls her “terrible,” “rambling,” and “not at all persuasive” statement showed that.  Unless there was a serious illness or a serious scandal, the resignation on the grounds Palin gave is simply incomprehensible.  She has destroyed her own credibiity in a single day.

I liked Sarah Palin and supported her inclusion on the GOP ticket last fall.  I thought she had more toughness than this.  It’s a big disappointment, and it’s the end of any hope of Palin getting taken seriously as a politician on the national level in the future.

Update (AP): I was going to tuck this into one of my own posts but it fits better here. Quin Hillyer, senior editor at the Spectator, calls the resignation an “appalling dereliction of duty.”

What Sarah Palin did today was get out before the real challenges of the job (whatever challenges there are for such an easy job) really rear their heads. The going got tough in terms of spurious ethics charges against her, and she took off. That’s cowardly. That’s not sign of staying power. It’s a sign of wanting to get out while the getting is good, in order to become a full-time candidate for a presidential race that won’t culminate for 3 1/2 more years. It’s a little too calculating, by half — or more.

I just listened to her speech announcing her decision, and found it singularly unimpressive. “This was a rambling, bombastic, self-centered, ‘poor me’ kind of speech.” That’s how Mike Carey of the Anchorage Daily News just described her speech on Fox News. I agree. He then said it was, darn, I already can’t remember if he said it was “pitiful” or “pathetic,” but it was some word like that. Again, I agree. It was a speech in which she clearly made a bit for a national audience — not a very effective bid, but a transparent one — but didn’t adequately explain to the people of Alaska why she was relinquishing her duty…

Statesmen hang tough. Sarah Palin is cutting and running. ‘Nuff said.