Sarah Palin picked the wrong day to resign as governor of Alaska.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
July 3 2009 7:20 PM

Independence Day?

Sarah Palin picked the wrong day to resign as governor of Alaska.

Sarah Palin.
Sarah Palin

If Sarah Palin wanted to avoid the speculation and attacks that drove her crazy as governor, she should have picked a different time to leave office. She made her surprise announcement on the day before a national holiday—a day reserved for news of impending investigations, affairs, or habits that need treatment.



John Dickerson John Dickerson

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. Read his series on the presidency and on risk.

In a rambling press conference, the Alaska governor never really explained why this day was better than all other days. If she'd waited three days, she would have owned the news cycle. Perhaps she was declaring early independence?



Advertisement

The larger reason for Palin's early departure was that she was having no fun. Ever since she returned to Alaska from the national stage, being governor has been a chore. Her political opponents have launched 15 ethics charges against her. The state economy has turned sour, and she got into an ugly squabble over federal stimulus funds. It's much more enjoyable to travel the country waving to adoring crowds of GOP activists.

So Palin decided to chuck her office for the limelight.
She can now tour the country as the only superstar in a party that desperately needs one. Because she can pack bleachers, she can raise money. In addition to boosting party morale and filling its coffers (and her own), she can build relationships nationwide that will be crucial if she really is interested in running for national office again.



The downsides for this gambit are obvious. Being governor was the best rebuttal she had to charges that she lacked depth and executive experience. In her news conference, she said the attacks had forced her to leave, but it was her toughness fighting the "old boys network," as she used to call it, that used to be her primary selling point during the campaign.



Maybe she's just being mavericky? Perhaps. That's certainly how she framed her departure. To stay in office as a lame duck would have been to do the predictable thing, she said. But the challenge for Palin in the 2008 presidential campaign and again now is persuading voters that her maverick instinct isn't just unpredictability and erratic behavior—qualities that can turn maverick-ness into a liability. Only dead fish go with the flow, she said, in what was a welcome addition to the political phrase book. But if you're not swimming with the current, your options are still tough ones: Either you're swimming upstream, or you're flapping around on the dock.

Sarah Palin announces her resignation:

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?