Today Sarah Palin announced that she will be resigning as Governor of Alaska effective July 26. This apparently comes as a surprise to just about everyone, including some of her most trusted advisors. The closest Palin got to a coherent explanation is that she has already decided not to seek reelection in 2010 and, in her own words, “Many just accept that lame duck status, and they hit that road. They draw a paycheck. They kind of milk it. And I’m not going to put Alaskans through that.”
Stated more directly: She’s a big fat quitter.
She tries to put a noble face on it with the whole “I’m not going to put Alaskans through that,” but the truth is she’s bailing out. So she’s decided not to seek another term. Fair enough. Great, actually. What about her present term? The one she was elected to by the people of Alaska? The one she’s only completed half of? Feh! Doesn’t matter. Why taunt the electorate with a full term when they know already they won’t be given the rare privilege of voting for you next time? It’d be cruel, really.
This is so stupid and bizarre that it almost surpasses all the other stupid, bizarre shit Palin’s done since winking and smiling her way into national politics nearly a year ago. If our federal and state governments operated the way they ought to, with citizen legislators and executives serving their terms and then returning to their private lives instead of entrenched career politicians sticking around for decades at a time, elected officials opting against seeking reelection would be the rule rather than the rarest of exceptions. Following Sarah Palin’s line of thought (I cannot call it “logic”), all those one-term public servants would just as well skip town halfway through rather than finish out there terms. Otherwise they’re just milking it, just drawing a paycheck. Nevermind their constitutionally mandated duties as elected members of the government.
Hell, why limit it to those who decide not to seek reelection? What about those who have lost elections, or who are forced to leave office by term limits? What’s the point, for instance, of a two-term President of the United States hanging around Washington, D.C. for two extra months waiting for us to inaugurate the new guy? According to Sarah Palin, he’d be doing us all a favor if he just packed up and hit the bricks and let his V.P. run out the clock instead.
As odd as Palin’s abrupt abdication is, it’s not unprecedented. The first thing it reminded me of was the resignation three years ago of the mayor of my own dear Hagerstown. At least Palin is waiting until the end of the month before quitting. Our guy, Richard Trump, didn’t even have the class to give notice. He quit effective immediately. And not even in person — he left the city council a note:
As of February 1, 2006, I respectfully resign the position of Mayor. I respect your understanding in this manner and will be glade to cooperate with any matters.
There are no typos in there. That’s exactly how the Honorable Mayor of the City of Hagerstown Richard F. Trump wrote it. He shared Sarah Palin’s way with the language, obviously. Now they have something else in common.
Despite the fact that she’s a welcher, an embarrassment to her party and our whole national political culture, and an obvious head-case who’s been nothing but trouble from day one, I’m sure there are still factions within the Republican party who salivate at the prospect of a Palin 2012 presidential bid. They’ll play along while she continues to put a selfless, righteous spin on her decision to walk out on the people of her state. They’ll continue to apologize for her erratic behavior, her awkward, stilted speaking style, her evident lack of skill and qualifications. They’ll do this for god only knows what reasons — maybe because to the sex-starved evangelicals that constitute her base she still passes for an attractive woman, maybe because they saw how effective her race-baiting demagoguery was at stirring up the rubes during campaign rallies last year, maybe because they honestly believe someone as clumsy and inarticulate and just plain dumb as her could possibly stand a chance running against the incumbent president, who is possibly the most skilled politician we have ever seen.
Whatever the reason, if the Republicans value their place as a major political party, they should cheerfully wave Sarah Palin out the door on July 26, then lock it behind her and break off the key.
Shit. I can dream, can’t I?