In Sarah Palin's GOP, the leaders keep quitting and the troubles don't.

Notes from the political sidelines.
July 4 2009 1:12 AM

Quitters Never Win

In Sarah Palin's GOP, the leaders keep quitting and the troubles don't.

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Time after time, quitting has turned out to be the "worthless, easy path" that Sarah Palin insists it isn't. What makes her sudden resignation especially troubling, though, is not the flawed strategy so much as her jubilation and relief in putting the statehouse in her rear mirror. Palin's resignation is a symptom of what's crippling the Republican Party of late: Governing has become an unwelcome distraction.

Like Sanford's fatal press conference, Palin's bitter statement reads like a cry for help—an all-caps plea for someone to rescue her from the messy business of running Alaska. She passes up running for re-election because she doesn't need a title "to HELP people," then says she'll pack it in altogether rather than "milk" her lame-duck status by traveling to the Lower 48. Like Sanford, Palin snuck away to visit a distant land and fell in love with a siren she cannot bring home or leave behind. Her fatal attraction was the national spotlight.

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Palin closed her statement with words she attributed to Gen. Douglas MacArthur: "We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction." Right war, wrong general: The man who said those words was Oliver Smith, who helped his men escape annihilation at the Battle of the "Frozen Chosin" Reservoir in Korea. She should be so lucky. For Sarah Palin, avoiding disaster continues to be a losing battle.

Correction, July 6, 2009: This article originally gave the wrong first name for Utah's governor. He is Jon Huntsman. (Return  to the corrected sentence.)

Bruce Reed, who was President Clinton's domestic policy adviser, is CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council and co-author with Rahm Emanuel of The Plan: Big Ideas for Change in America.E-mail him at thehasbeen@gmail.com. Read his disclosure here.