Truly, Sarah Palin has come a long way. When she ran for vice president, she frequently became disjointed and garbled when she departed from her prepared remarks. Now the prepared remarks are incoherent, too.
"And a problem in our country today is apathy," she said on Friday as she announced that she would resign as governor of Alaska at the end of the month. "It would be apathetic to just hunker down and ‘go with the flow.' Nah, only dead fish ‘go with the flow.' No. Productive, fulfilled people determine where to put their efforts, choosing to wisely utilize precious time ... to BUILD UP."
Basically, the point was that Palin is quitting as governor because she's not a quitter. Or a deceased salmon.
Sarah Barracuda made her big announcement Friday afternoon on the lawn of her home to an audience that appeared to include only Todd, the kids and the next-door neighbors. Smiling manically, she looked like a parody of the woman who knocked the Republicans dead at their convention. She babbled about her parents' refrigerator magnet, which apparently had a lot of wise advice. And she recalled her visit with the troops in Kosovo, whose dedication and determination inspired her to ... resign.
"Life is about choices!" declared the nation's most anti-choice politician.
People, what is going on with governors in this country? Are we doomed to see them go bonkers one by one, state by state?
The timing of Palin's announcement was extremely peculiar. Not only did she interrupt the plans of TV newscasters to spend the entire weekend pointing out that Michael Jackson is still dead, she delivered her big news just as the nation was settling into Fourth of July celebrations. You'd have thought she didn't want us to notice.
"I choose to work very hard on a path for fruitfulness and productivity," she said in a fairly typical moment. "I choose not to tear down and waste precious time, but to build up this state and our country, and her industrious, generous, patriotic free people!"
Palin has a year and a half left to go in her term of office. The political world had been wondering whether she'd run for re-election. The answer is no. And furthermore, it turns out that Palin believes that the only way her administration can "continue without interruption" is for her to end it.
Anyhow, no point in wasting precious time.
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One underlying theme in Palin's remarks was that many ethics complaints have been filed against her on issues ranging from her alleged attempts to get her former brother-in-law fired from the state troopers to charging Alaska for her children's travel expenses.
According to the about-to-be-ex governor, fighting all this negativity has cost the state "thousands of hours of your time" and $2 million "to respond to ‘opposition research.' " But now this is all water under the bridge. Every single unfair charge has been dismissed. ("We've won!") And now that the battle is over and the time/money has been wasted, Palin is going to leave her job in the name of "efficiencies and effectiveness."
"I cannot stand here as your governor and allow millions upon millions of our dollars go to waste just so I can hold the title of governor," she said.
Perhaps there is some new and interesting scandal that Palin has yet to let us in on. (If so, I hope it involves a soul mate.) Otherwise, it would appear that this is all about her desire to start raising money and setting up operations for a presidential run in 2012. Her fans immediately interpreted the resignation as a canny move to get her back down to the lower 48, with as much time on her hands as Mitt Romney. (Mary Matalin called it "brilliant.")
Palin was the subject of a devastating article in this month's Vanity Fair by Todd Purdum, who wrote that McCain campaign aides found it almost impossible to get Palin to prepare for her disastrous interview with Katie Couric. And there is no sign, Purdum reported, that Palin has made any attempt to bone up on the issues so that next time around, she could run as a candidate who actually had some grasp of the intricacies of foreign and domestic policy.
So if she's starting to run, it will be as the same reporter-avoiding, generalization-spouting underachiever that she was last time around.
Now we know she not only doesn't have the concentration to read a policy paper, she can't focus long enough to finish the job she was hired to do.
On Friday, Palin said that finishing out her term would be just too easy. "Many just accept that lame-duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck and ‘milk it.' I'm not putting Alaska through that," she said.
Apparently, she's going to put the rest of us through it instead.