Shock was the order of the day Friday when Gov. Sarah Palin announced her resignation. Many Alaskans had speculated that she wouldn't seek a second term as governor to clear the decks for a presidential run in 2012, but no one expected her to walk away from the job with a year and a half to go. After the shock, confusion.
Gov. Palin baffled Alaskans with her explanation that, having decided not to seek a second term, she doesn't want to be a lame duck until December 2010. That explanation is more lame than the duck. The governor spoke as if her decision not to seek a second term automatically left her irrelevant, when the fact is that the rest of her term's quality was up to her. The state has important work ahead — gas line, fiscal plan, education, health care, opportunities on the alternative energy and natural resource fronts. She ran for office to do that work. And there's the matter of the Alaska Constitution she often invokes. She was elected to serve four years, not two years and change.
She spoke as if she were making a sacrifice for the good of Alaska, but it's hard to see how.
It's one thing when an elected official tries for higher office, wins and leaves the old post. It's another when an elected official, eying higher office or some other pursuit, decides to quit in midterm. That looks like self-service, not public service. Lacking any other family or political reasons for resigning, the governor's explanation simply doesn't make sense.
Working with the Legislature and riding a wave of popularity, Gov. Palin accomplished much before her administration was two years old – oil tax legislation, gas line legislation, ethics legislation. She was a bipartisan leader and arguably the most popular governor in Alaska's history.
Her vice presidential run – and the circus of Troopergate – changed her life and changed the political landscape in Alaska. Relations with the Legislature, never ideal, grew worse. She was often described by lawmakers as "disengaged." She seemed to keep looking south even after returning north in November, and she was a more fierce partisan of the Republican right.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.