Empire editorial: Alaska better off without Sarah Palin

Posted: Sunday, July 05, 2009

So long, Sarah. It's been an interesting ride, albeit a short one.

Gov. Sarah Palin, during an impromptu news conference Friday, announced she won't seek re-election next year. Of greater surprise, she said she's resigning at the end of the month.

Palin veiled her announcement as something much more noble, but the fact is that she's quitting less than three years into her tenure. And, given her meteoric rise to national political stardom last fall, Alaskans are shocked and appalled by her decision to quit midstream.

We say good for her, however, because it's been nearly a year since the first-term governor has acted like she actually wanted the job. Still unknown, however, is why Palin is calling it quits, though her press office has given numerous reasons for why she isn't. They say:

• It wasn't because Palin can't take the criticism that comes with being an elected official.

• It wasn't because she is planning to run for higher office.

• It wasn't because of bad press and bloggers.

Palin said during her speech Friday - for which the press was given less than two hours notice - she didn't want to become a "lame duck." She also referenced not wanting to waste taxpayer dollars due to what she believes are frivolous ethics complaints against her and members of her administration.

If Palin is considered a lame duck it's by her own making. She engaged in needless disputes with bloggers and members of the press, waged a talk-show battle with David Letterman over a crude joke (was Letterman's comment really the worst we've heard from late-night comedians?), and touted her office's transparency while doing the opposite in practice.

Not only did she hit the self-destruct button, she built the time bomb known as Sarah Palin. We're surprised by the news, but we shouldn't be.

Palin should have waited a few days before announcing her resignation. Instead, she dropped a bombshell just one day before Alaska was to celebrate its 50th anniversary of statehood. Her announcement could have overshadowed the historic significance of the Fourth, but it certainly didn't in Juneau or Douglas, where people were much more concerned about celebrating their state's heritage than about what the "guv" was doing or saying.

Political pundits on both sides say the move is political suicide, and they're right. Palin's aspirations for higher office, assuming that's a goal of hers, is now a moot point. Quitting an elected position, during her first term no less, doesn't lead to higher ground relative to her electability.

Regardless of the real reasons for Palin's resignation, Alaska will be far better off without her. It'll now be up to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell to demonstrate that he'll take the job seriously and that he's up to leading this state during what will be a difficult 18 months ahead.

A word of caution for Parnell: Don't borrow from Palin's playbook and begin your 2010 election bid Aug. 1. To do so would ensure your defeat.

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