Northern surprise

Sarah Palin's has announced she intends to quit as Governor of Alaska, fueling speculation that she is clearing the decks to focus on a Presidential run. The Wall Street Journal writes "Her decision not to run for a second term will likely fuel speculation about whether she may make a presidential bid in the 2012 election." The Washington Post calls it an unusual move by an unconventional politician.  It writes:

One strategist who assumes she has aspirations to run for president called the decision to resign her office "puzzling," another described it as "nutty." "If this is about running for president, it's about as odd a way as we've ever seen," said John Weaver, a Republican strategist. ...Yet, it has been obvious that Alaska is a difficult place from which to participate in the national debate -- both because of its physical distance from the rest of the United States but also because of its unique culture and identity. Freed of the constraints of her office, Palin could, if she chooses, become a more engaged participant in the national debate.

"My contrarian take is almost everyone I talk to thinks it's crazy but I wonder maybe it's crazy like a fox," said Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, who has been out defending Palin this past week.

If Sarah Palin has resigned in order to focus on the 2012 it will have the effect of starting the election season early. Both President Obama and Republican Presidential hopefuls must consider whether they can stay on the starting blocks while the former of Governor of Alaska runs down the track at her own pace. If they leave it too long she may build up a significant start on them.  The President will probably try to ignore her; with his publicists portraying her as "looney" or trying to escape her responsibilities in Alaska. There may even be one or two exposes commissioned to allege that Palin had something to hide in the Great North and was running from it. By leaving her destruction to his public relations minions instead of taking her seriously, the incumbent can portray her as beneath his dignity to take seriously. But if Palin's campaign begins to acquire momentum, then he and every other Presidential hopeful will be forced to respond whether they like it or not.

The word "campaign" must be used advisedly. The text of her announcement, as excerpted by the AP suggests that she may be aiming to position herself as the center of a movement -- in effect going outside the system --  rather than aspiring to be just another one of the Republican Presidential candidates for 2012. Sarah Palin may be calculating that, with employment rates at their lowest point in decades and with polls showing a widespread fear for the country's future, that a crisis is brewing or will soon burst.  A real crisis would seek a natural center, a point around which to rally; and she would be it.  For the Republican Party, a Palin at the center of "Tea Parties" and other unconventional protests would raise the risk of draining away support from the party, which to be fair, has done precious little to harness dissent  itself.

In a hastily arranged news conference at her home in suburban Wasilla, Palin said she will formally step down July 26, and Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell will be inaugurated at the governor's picnic in Fairbanks. She said she had decided against running for re-election as Alaska's governor, and believed it was best to leave office even though she had two years left to her term. ...

Palin hinted she had a bigger role in mind, saying she wanted to make a "positive change outside government." But she kept supporters in suspense, promising on Twitter: "We'll soon attach info on decision to not seek re-election ... this is in Alaska's best interest, my family's happy ... it is good. Stay tuned."

If something resembling a crisis does break out in the next six months then Sarah Palin's "unconventional" or "puzzling" move will be retroactively described as an act of genius. But if nothing impends, then Sarah Palin will risk wearing herself out on the public stage even before the 2012 election season begins. Whether or not she has made the right move remains to be seen. In politics as in all else, "something must be left to chance; nothing is certain ... [but] no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside the enemy.”

Update: Predicting that the Left would go after Palin was an easy call (see above). Already Newsbusters is reporting "a blog just published at the Huffington Post is disgracefully titled Palin Will Run In '12 On More Retardation Platform."  It was written by comedian Erik Sean Nelson. Some choice quotes are:

Her first act as President: To introduce a Pre-K lunch buffet that includes lead paint chips. Sort of a Large HEAD-START Program.

She will then encourage women to hold off on pregnancies until their 40's just to mix up some chromosomes.

She now is in favor of abortion only in case of diploid birth.

Her policies will increase jobs because Wal-Mart is building new stores each day and someone has to be the greeter.

Ha ha ha ha. In case anyone takes offense, the defense will be "it was comedy". But consider this. If they didn't fear Palin why would they bother to focus every available "comedian" on her? Is it out of contempt, or fear?


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