Way back on Tuesday, I wrote about Sarah Palin, “I can only imagine a life running a state while caring for a son with Down syndrome and a son in Iraq and a daughter who is a new mother in the sharp glare of the public spotlight and a grandson and another daughter suddenly appearing in David Letterman’s routine. This may not be the right time for another go-round in a multi-year process in which vast swaths of the political world will aim to see her torn down to nothing. She’s 45 years old; it’s not like the window is closing.”
Perhaps, it became too much.
Not finishing her first term will provide a major, major, major obstacle to any presidential bid. I thought a 2012 campaign would be a mistake; from today’s comments, it’s not clear whether Palin is still interested in that option.
But the moment she expresses an interest in a presidential bid, every rival, Republican and Democrat, will uncork the ready-made zinger: “If elected, would she serve the full four years, or quit sometime in the third year again?”
But as noted, Palin is 45. Life will go on, after this upcoming presidential election, and the next. People thought Richard Nixon was through after the 1960 election. When Ronald Reagan failed to dislodge President Ford in 1976, people thought he had blown his best chance at the presidency. People thought Bill Clinton destroyed his political future with an endlessly long-winded speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention.
If Palin decides to seek the presidency at the age that Hillary Clinton was when she ran in the 2008 cycle, she will be running in… 2024. That’s a half a generation, and several political lifetimes, away.
Palin is departing the national political scene. But that does not discount a comeback, as a quite different figure, at some far-off date. She quoted Douglas MacArthur in her resignation announcement, referring to “not retreating, but advancing in another direction.” But the words most associated with Douglas MacArthur in American minds are “I shall return.”
UPDATE: Her mentioning of the saying on her parents’ refrigerator is interesting: ’Don’t explain; your friends don’t need it, and your enemies won’t believe you anyway.’
It’s cute, but doesn’t seem all that accurate. You really never need to explain something to your friends? They’re never owed explanations? They’ll always take things on faith, and offer their trust without question? Or is that just the expectation set for friends?
Or how many friends feel like that right now, that they expected more of an explanation, and didn’t really get one?
ANOTHER UPDATE: The Republican Governor’s Association releases a statement:
Republican Governors Association Executive Director Nick Ayers issued the following statement in regards to Sarah Palin’s announcement today that she will not seek reelection in 2010 and will step down from the governorship.
“While we regret the news announced by Governor Palin today, Alaska will continue to have a Republican governor through 2010 and we are confident the state will elect a Republican in next year’s election.
The RGA’s focus remains firmly on the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia this year, and the 37 gubernatorial elections that will take place in 2010. We know that winning these races is the most important task facing our Party over the next two years.”