Sarah Palin is not done causing headaches for the leadership of the Republican Party.
In fact, my guess is that she is going to cause them far more pain in the near future than they or the media could ever have imagined.
At this point, politicians and the press are trying to decipher Palin’s motivation for her stunning announcement yesterday that she is resigning as governor of Alaska.
The standard analysis is that she is resigning in order to concentrate her efforts on securing the Republican nomination for president in 2012. As Bill Kristol told Fox News after Palin’s speech: “We just saw the opening statement of the 2012 campaign.”
Others — including NBC’s Andrea Mitchell — think Palin is stepping away from politics for good.
And some claim that Palin is resigning because of soon-to-be-announced scandals, including an alleged federal criminal investigation into the rebuilding of Palin’s home.
I think they’ve all missed the forest for the trees.
Sarah Palin isn’t done with politics.
But she might well be done with the Republican Party.
Rather than relying on alleged experts (who are not in Palin’s close circle) or taking the supposed word of unnamed sources, I suggest that the best indication of why Palin resigned – and what she plans to do – comes from Palin herself.
In her speech, she specifically states that she is not stepping away from politics. On the contrary, she repeatedly emphasized that she going to continue to work to “effect positive change,” although it would be from “outside government at this moment in time.” She was, she said, following in the never-give-up tradition of General Douglas MacArthur. “We’re not retreating,” she said, “we are advancing in another direction.’” (As the New York Times points out, Palin got the author of the quote wrong; it was not said by MacArthur, but by Maj. Gen. Oliver Prince Smith.)
She also was clear about the kind of “positive change” she planned to effect: she was going to continue to fight against “the heavy hand of federal government [intruding] into our communities with an all-knowing attitude,“ fight against “the obscene national debt that we’re forcing our children to pay because of today’s big government spending,” and “protect states’ rights, as mandated in the 10th Amendment.”
As she did during the 2008 campaign, Palin cast herself as the champion of the people: those “hardworking, average Americans fighting for what’s right” and those people “who still believe in free enterprise and smaller government and strong national security for our country and support for our troops and energy independence and for those who will protect freedom and equality and life.”
In other words, Palin sounded much same as she did during the presidential campaign – and she certainly didn’t sound like a person getting out of politics.
But there was a difference from her speeches during the presidential campaign.
And the difference involves the political party that she supports.
In her resignation speech, Palin said: “I’ll work hard for and I’ll campaign for those who are proud to be American and who are inspired by our ideals and they won’t deride them. I will support others who seek to serve in or out of office, and I don’t care what party they’re in or no party at all, inside Alaska or outside of Alaska.”
Repeatedly referring to her course of action as “unconventional,” “a new direction” and “no more politics as usual” — and comparing her actions to those of William H. Seward, (Lincoln’s Secretary of State who negotiated the purchase of Alaska — ”Seward’s Folly”), who took the “the uncomfortable, unconventional but right path to secure Alaska, so that Alaska could help secure the United States” — Palin dropped clue after clue that, like Seward, she too was going to take an “uncomfortable, unconventional but right path” to “help secure the United States.”
I think Sarah Palin told us what she is planning to do.
Yes, she is running for President.
But not necessarily as a Republican.
Sarah Palin has declared herself the leader of a movement, not merely a political party.
It was not a coincidence that Palin gave her speech on the weekend of Independence Day.
She just declared her independence from the Republican Party.