The Republican primary for the Presidential nomination in 2012 has begun in earnest this week. While Newt Gingrich has been the most active until now in laying the groundwork for his run, mostly by knee-kerk opposition to everything Obama does, it was Sarah Palin yesterday who really made the first move, with dramatic style – she resigned as governor of Alaska.
The decision, made ostensibly for the sake of her family’s privacy, came out of the blue, and seemed to be a snap judgement rather than something carefully planned. Her political allies in the GOP and Alaskan elected officals were caught totally unawares. On her official twitter account, she only mentioned that “she had decided not to seek re-election” – just moments before her press conference about resigning. Note of course that not running for re-election is very different from resigning partway into your first, and now uncompleted, term.
Palin is now unemcumbered by having to be tethered to Alaska, which is the ultimate backwater when it comes to presidential politics. She’s outgrown her state and now needs to be free to focus on the lower 48, building her following in the electoral heartland, and wooing the DC insiders. She won’t be lacking for money, as she can easily pull in a fortune from doing the lecture circuit among the party faithful full-time now. She’s already got her PR people working on selling her image, focusing on what she thinks the red-blooded conservative males who are voting for her want to see – and she’s probably right. Plus, she needs to be closer to DC and available to the media to do pushback on the inevitable stories that erode at her image as the Maverick v2.0 – such as the insider stories of sheer drama that former McCain campaign aides are leaking.
To be honest, I think this is actually a pretty good decision on Palin’s part. Frankly, Alaska was suffering with her being distracted by her ambition for 2012. And it benefits everyone, especially President Obama, for Palin to get more exposure. The people will see more of her and be able to draw their own conclusions. I think she had more cachet and mystique as a sitting governor than she will as just another full-time political aspirant. Now, she has to actually speak to be heard… and people will be paying attention.
Sarah Palin’s overconfidence is her weakness.
Related – great analaysis at The Politico, which discusses the advantages to Palin for quitting in more detail, as well as describing how her move has split the GOP ranks. Also, great post at DailyKos about some of the revelations behind the scenes of the McCain campaign, not to mention the landmark story on Palin in Vanity Fair.