With her unpredictable decision to resign later this month after only 2½ years as Alaska's governor, Sarah Palin shocked the Washington establishment. If she makes the right moves, she can surprise it again by having a shot at the presidency in 2012.
It's easy to understand why Palin would want to give up the governorship. Try though she might, after two intense months on the campaign trail as a vice presidential nominee, Palin could not return to the world she knew before Aug. 29, 2008. Once a popular, effective governor who enjoyed productive relationships with legislators on both sides of the aisle, she was facing heavy pressure and constant second-guessing.
The Legislature rejected Palin's nominees for attorney general and a state Senate seat. She's been the target of unyielding, costly ethics inquiries - 19 of them now, with the last two coming after her resignation announcement. (Fifteen of the complaints have been resolved with no finding of wrongdoing.) And even limited travel for political events in the Lower 48 has brought her harsh media and public criticism.
Meanwhile, declining oil prices have resulted in a worsening budget climate in Alaska, which will require difficult, politically unpopular decisions in coming years.
These challenges created an environment in which Palin couldn't be effective and simply wasn't having any fun. Add to that the tabloid-style coverage of her family, the unfunny and inappropriate joke David Letterman told about her daughter, and the sniping of anonymous McCain campaign alumni in a recent Vanity Fair article.
Philadelphia Enquirer - By Matt Mackowiak