The lady is just full of surprises, isn't she? It wasn't enough that Sarah Palin decided not to run for re-election as governor of Alaska; she had to announce she was resigning the governorship in a couple of weeks.
Why, for goshsakes?
She didn't really say. Except to announce that she was taking on a "higher calling," and not retreating but just advancing in a different direction like the Marines fighting their way back from the Chosin Reservoir. It all sounded as if she were just giving another campaign speech full of sound bites.
But what's she running for this time, if anything? President in 2012? Or just a seat in the U.S. Senate? Maybe a consolation career as still another right-wing talk-show host?
Is she resigning because she's just tired of the fishbowl existence? But isn't that what she signed on for? Have the rock-chunkers finally broken her spirit? That would be a shame, considering how many spirits she's heartened.
Isn't politics about exercising power, not walking away from it? Who ever heard of a politician leaving the public payroll without some higher office in sight?
Is she resigning because there's a heckuva scandal brewing out there somewhere and about to break? But isn't that what the smear artists have been saying about her for years? And the FBI, contrary to the latest smear of so many, says she's not under investigation.
Questions proliferate. Answers remain few.
She's breaking our hearts, those of us who have cheered her ever since she arrived on the national scene like a fresh breeze, and we want to know why she's leaving office.
Funny, we never took Sarah Palin, aka Sarah Barracuda, for a quitter. Wasn't her great asset supposed to be her pluck in the face of all the dirty tricks used against her? But she's been the victim of one of the most successful campaigns in living memory to turn an American politician into a caricature a la "Saturday Night Live." See FactCheck.org for just a preliminary list of the falsehoods spread about her from the moment she took center stage in national politics.
Have the smear artists finally worn her down?
Those are the kind of questions and speculations that occurred on first hearing of Sarah Palin's impending resignation as governor before I realized I was thinking like the forever-talking heads on the tube who can't breathe without speculating, usually cynically.
The conventional wisdom among the punditry is that Sarah Palin's latest bombshell is a dumb move, or "absolutely bizarre," to quote one of those political analysts, Larry Sabato, who's famous for being famous, or at least for being inescapable on the tube.
But lest we forget, Governor Palin wouldn't be the first American politician to strike out on an unorthodox route to national leadership. Or just to take her show on the road for a while. There once was a B-movie actor who, when his career finally gave out, signed on as a pitchman for free enterprise and other ideas then considered hopelessly outmoded. Remember the intellectual climate when Ronald Reagan was the spokesman for General Electric?
He was dismissed as a throwback just another pretty face when he was traveling from plant to plant perfecting his political appeal. Who knew that Keynesian economics would give way to Milton Friedman's kind, and that Ronald Reagan would go on to be elected governor of California, and then to another political office of some note? In which capacity he would preside over the revival of the American economy and dream after the disastrous Carter years. And, while he was at it, he would see the end of the Cold War and the Soviet Union with it.
Who would have envisioned all that? William F. Buckley Jr. did. But he was a rarity. He may have seen the promise in this washed-up matinee idol, but not many others did.
As was the case with Ronald Reagan, who was also dismissed as a less than serious type, Sarah Palin has a quality that appeals to a broad base of Americans who sense the country is headed in the wrong direction. She has that much in common with another charismatic figure on the American scene Barack Obama even if his political and cultural leanings are quite the opposite of hers.
The moral of the story: Politics, like Sarah Palin herself, is just full of surprises.