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Palin's Puzzling Move Again Roils 2012 Field

5 years ago
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It's like a game of Republican dominoes, falling one by one: Nevada Sen. John Ensign, bumped out of the spotlight by South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who now must be eternally grateful to Sarah Palin.

All three had been looking at the 2012 presidential race. The men are non-starters after extramarital affairs; Palin's status is a bit murkier.

I've seen some analysis that her resignation as Alaska governor later this month will give her the time and opportunity to build a team for 2012. I've seen more convincing analysis that her decision is another example of her odd political judgment, including from Politics Daily's Matt Lewis, and could signal a departure from politics.

It really would be difficult for even an experienced national politician to handle the flood of attention Palin's been getting. But not only is Palin relatively inexperienced, she seems be drawn to the wrong kind of publicity.

For instance, she gave an interview to Runner's World, which is fine, but she also posed in Spandex for a slide show. And then there are the feuds -- with the teenage father of her grandson, with David Letterman over an offensive joke he made.

In her press conference today, Palin even appeared to take a shot at the besieged, lovelorn Sanford, who once visited his Argentine mistress during a trade mission to South America. "I thought about how, well, how much fun some governors have as lame ducks," she said. "They maybe travel around their state, travel to other states, maybe take their overseas international trade missions."

To call Palin's tenure rocky would be gentle. Just today, before she announced her resignation, the Anchorage Daily News Web site featured a piece on a state health official, who said she was forced out because she and Palin differed on social issues. And then there are the many ethics complaints lodged against the governor. Palin said it has cost her family more than $500,000 to fight them.

In recent days, Palin furor has included a tough Vanity Fair piece (among other things, the author wonders if she has a narcissistic personality disorder); criticism from conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, and National Review writer Jonah Goldberg's letter -- posted at midnight, just hours before the surprise announcement -- that starts out, "Dear Governor Palin, you're blowing it."

Krauthammer, Goldberg and others say Palin was not doing what she needed to do to emerge as a serious contender for 2012 -- that being to go home, lower her profile, govern Alaska well, and educate herself on national and international issues. It's hard to see how quitting as governor after 2.5 years will help.

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