It's not even safe to go to a July 4th weekend barbecue without a big news story breaking, in this case the surprising, some might even say bizarre news that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has up and quit her job in Alaska with a year and a half left in her term.
Many of you know this by now but at least The Two-Way is now on record with this bombshell and you, our readers, can take to chewing over this juicy political morsel with everything else you'll be chewing this weekend.
Why would the former Republican vice presidential nominee summarily resign the way she has? From her rambling remarks, Palin seemed to be saying she decided she wouldn't stand for re-election and when she decided that, she figured she might as well quit now so she wouldn't be a lame duck.
"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."
Here are some other choice excerpts:
I really don't want to disappoint anyone with this announcement, not with the decision that I have made. All I can ask is that you trust me with this decision, and know that it is no more politics as usual. Some Alaskans it seems today, maybe they don't mind wasting public dollars and state time, but I do, and I cannot stand here as your governor, and allow the millions of dollars and all that time, just so that I can hold the title of Governor. I don't know if my children are going to allow it anyway. Some are going to question the timing of this. Let me just say this decision has been in the works for awhile...
... You are naive if you don't see a full court press from the national level picking away right now a good point guard, here's what she does. She drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her head up, because she needs to keep her eye on the basket, and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can win, and that's what I'm doing, keeping her eye on the ball. That represents sound priorities,remember they include energy independence, and smaller government and national security and freedom, and I know when to pass the ball for victory...
... I love my job, and I love Alaska. And, it hurts to make this choice, but I'm doing what's best for Alaska, and I have explained why. Though I think of the saying on my parents' refrigerator which says, little magnet that says don't explain. Your friends don't need it. Your enemies won't believe you anyway. But I've given my reasons. No more politics as usual. I'm taking my fight for what's right for Alaska in a new direction. Now despite this, I sure don't want anyone, any Alaskan dissuaded from entering politics, after seeing this real climate change that began in August. No, we need hardworking average Americans fighting for what's right, and I will support you because we need you, and you can effect change, and I can too, on the outside. We need those who will respect our constitution, where government is supposed to serve from the bottom up and not move towards this top down big government takeover, but rather we'll be protectors of individual rights.
NPR's Ken Rudin who writes the Political Junkie blog is right to note that Palin's approval ratings among Alaska voters have fallen so her re-election as governor wasn't a sure bet.
But to resign now will strike many people as a fairly flaky move for someone who's thought to have presidential ambitions. While some analysts are saying her action frees her up to devote all her time and energy on the 2012 presidential campaign, this would be a very unusual or, as I said earlier, bizarre move for a politician with presidential aspirations.
One important reason President Barack Obama was able to close the deal with voters was that, as a breakthrough candidate, the nation's first African American to become president, he was No-Drama Obama. He appeared steady on the rudder and didn't strike voters as mercurial or irresponsible. When you can take the nation to war or launch nuclear strikes as commander in chief, this is an important quality.
The first woman to successfully run for president is going to have to pass this test too. But what Palin did today, just like the reputation she developed on the campaign trail and captured in the by now infamous Vanity Fair piece, is drama to the second power.
As Obama demonstrated, however, there's enough drama from being a historic, breakthrough candidate.
Palin may be going one bridge-to-nowhere too far with the type of drama she showed us today. She likely made it harder, not easier, for many Americans to imagine her with her hand on the nuclear button.
Update at 7:45 a.m. ET, July 4. This morning's top headline at the Anchorage Daily News' website is "Palin decision mystifies some, thrills others."
Politico says her decision "splits GOP."
At Politics Daily, Walter Shapiro writes that it's ridiculous to think Palin is quitting so that she can concentrate full-time on running for president:
The idea that Palin somehow needs to jump-start her 2012 presidential campaign two-and-a-half years in advance is as ludicrous as the idea that she is abandoning the governorship to spend more time with the John McCain's aides who were so warm and supportive during her vice presidential phase.
White House dreamers whom nobody has ever heard of like, say, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, need years to build a national fundraising network and to visit all of Iowa's 99 counties. But the joy of being Sarah Palin is that she never has to feign enthusiasm while talking to 14 elderly Iowa Republicans in a cafe in Sac City.
On her Twitter page, Palin tweeted the news with this:
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
Her latest tweet is this:
Happy for hard working Alaskans who get a sunny break tomorrow to celebrate the Fourth of July - be safe, enjoy friends, thank the troops!
The governor's official video of her announcement is posted here.
Care to cast a vote about Palin and the 2012 presidental race?