July 7, 2009
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s announcement of her resignation and decision not to run for re-election was the only news story that trumped coverage of Michael Jackson’s death during the following 24 hour news cycle.
Citing a “higher calling” as the reason for her resignation, Palin left her post with 16 months remaining in her term. Palin, 45, held a press conference at her lakefront home in Wasilla, saying she wanted to "take a stand and effect change, not just hit our head against the wall and waste valuable state time and money.”
Palin will be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who has announced he will seek to retain the office in the 2010 election.
Since the 2008 presidential campaign as John McCain’s pick for vice president, Palin has faced fierce partisan politics in Alaska and cruel attacks against her family. Reports show some $600,000 in personal legal bills as Palin has defended herself against 16 ethics complaints, most of which have been dismissed without merit. Earlier this week, the Anchorage Daily News reported the complaints had cost the state personnel board nearly $300,000.
"I am willing to do this so this administration, with its positive agenda and its accomplishments and its successful road to an incredible future for Alaska, so that it can continue without interruption and with great administrative and legislative success,” Palin said.
Speculation is rampant about not only Palin’s future, but the Republican Party with her early departure.
Most social conservatives are reeling from the news. Chatter in coffee shops across the country includes one primary theme: confusion.
Admissions of extramarital affairs by South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Nevada Sen. John Ensign would assume there are no presidential ambitions for them. Because Palin is popular among social conservatives and Christians, her resignation complicates the 2012 race.
For many Christians, Palin represented hope to embrace values consistent with biblical teaching. A recent CNN poll had Palin running neck-and-neck with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former-Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee as favorites to lead the Republican 2012 ticket.
Pundits say Palin’s resignation could allow her to spend more time in the lower 48 states campaigning while others wonder about possible looming legal concerns. But her attorney told The Associated Press that she has no legal problems and is merely tired of the hostile political environment, legal bills and other distractions.
On behalf of Palin, officials declined an interview with Crosswalk.com. Speaking in fishing waders from the town of Dillingham, however, Palin told media her administration has been paralyzed by fending off frivolous lawsuits.
"I'm not going to take the comfortable path. I'm going to take the right path for the state," she said, which she described as her way of moving forward after difficult challenges.
The move befuddled and divided some Republicans, drawing sharp criticism from George Bush's political advisor, Karl Rove, and Ed Rollins, who ran Ronald Reagan's election campaign, and who described Palin as “crashing and burning.”
But not all Republicans see it that way.
“I believe she is such a fresh and unconventional voice that she can’t do her job well and is making an honorable and noble decision,” said Donna Lippoldt, director of development of the Kansas Family Policy Council. “I don’t think conservatives are going to forget this pro-life moral visionary in Alaska just because she isn’t governor. After all, who else do we have to go to?”
Lippoldt says many wrongly believe the governor’s seat is nothing more than a platform to higher office.
Turning up the heat against secular news outlets, Saturday Gov. Palin’s attorney warned lawsuits could come against mainstream news organizations’ “defamatory” stories stating that Palin is under federal investigation.
On the heels of Palin’s announcement, liberal blogs alleged that Palin possibly faces federal indictment over the 2002 sports arena construction project.
In a four-page letter, Alaska-based attorney Thomas Van Flein warned of legal consequences to those who publish stories about whether Palin embezzled money in a Wasilla, Alaska sports arena construction project.
An ardent pro-life advocate, Palin gave birth last year to her fifth child, Trig, a boy with Downs Syndrome. Her conservative and pro-family message will certainly find a welcoming audience on the speaking circuit and in book publishing.
While Palin’s self-proclaimed “unconventional” decision to leave the governorship at the end of the month has left political operatives scratching their heads, these “unconventional” methods may greatly depend deeply on how U.S. citizens feel about President Obama’s venue of change.
Unconventional or not, Palin’s choice appears to be better for her family and certainly provides a bright spot to her checkbook.
Russ Jones is co-publisher of the award winning Christian Press Newspaper (ChristianPress.com) and CEO of BIG Picture Media Group, Inc., a boutique media firm located in Newton, Kansas. Jones holds degrees from the University of Missouri and St. Paul School of Theology. As a former NBC TV reporter he enjoys reporting where evangelical Christian faith and news of the day intersect. He is also president of the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers. Jones is also president of the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers. He may be reached at [email protected].