THEORY 1: VANITY FAIR HURT HER FEELINGS
Palin locks horns with the media on a regular basis, and the most recent addition to America’s Palin-bashing oeuvre—Todd Purdum’s 10,000-word Vanity Fair profile—was a doozy. Palin’s closest colleagues ridiculed her with nicknames like “Little Shop of Horrors,” accusations of incompetence and a personality disorder, and leaked personal emails. Alluding to Palin’s notoriously thin skin when it comes to media criticism (last week, an amateur blogger named “Celtic Diva” prompted Palin to ask for the president to intervene), Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall characterized Palin’s resignation speech as “a colossal sulk… an effort on her part to ingeniously combine anti-liberal media bias agitation with Christianist politics by portraying herself as having been crucified by the liberal media.”
THEORY 2: SHE’S RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT
When Palin first announced she would not seek re-election, the conventional wisdom was that she would be running for president in 2012. As recently as last week, the governor was fundraising aggressively for her political action committee, SarahPAC. At least some members of the Palin 2012 crowd are still pounding their drums. And hey, Barack Obama never finished his first term as senator—maybe it’s a new trend?
THEORY 3: SHE’S NOT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT
MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell floated the notion that Palin isn’t aiming for the White House or relevance in the lower 48. She genuinely hates politics, Mitchell argued on television moments after Palin’s speech:
THEORY 4: SHE’S SICK OF ALASKA
CNN’s John King reported that a source close to Palin’s political team said the resignation was a “calculation” related to her “book deal and other issues” that were “causing a lot of friction up” in Alaska. In her resignation speech, Palin said she can do as much good for Alaskans outside of office as she can in it—but is it actually the lower 48 she’s after? CNN reports:
Another source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Palin "thinks she has accomplished goals she has set forward. … She sees what a positive influence she has had on people's lives from traveling the country in the last year."
THEORY 5: IT WAS A WHIM
Talking Points Memo notes that in the moments before her resignation speech, Palin’s Twitter may have suggested that she hadn’t decided yet on resignation. Palin’s blithe tweet referred to her decision to not seek re-election, but nothing else:
We’ll soon attach info on decision to not seek re-election… this is in Alaska’s best interest, my family’s happy… it is good, stay tuned.Politico’s Glenn Thrush notes that Palin met with colleagues all week and “gave no indication” that she was quitting.
THEORY 6: THE ETHICS POLICE WERE ABOUT TO NAB HER
In her resignation speech, Palin said she refused to stand by while Alaska wasted taxpayer money investigating her, presumably referring to the state’s ethical inquiries into Palin’s behavior in the so-called Troopergate scandal. Earlier this week, the Anchorage Daily News reported that the bill for the “Troopergate” inquiry had neared $300,000; on the same day as Palin’s resignation, ADN reported that Alaska’s Dept. of Health and Human Services Chair, Beverly Wooley, says Palin unfairly forced her out of office because “Palin felt she wasn’t in step on social issues.”
THEORY 7: SHE’S UNSTABLE
Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse issued a statement characterizing Palin’s resignation as “bizarre behavior”:
"Either Sarah Palin is leaving the people of Alaska high and dry to pursue her long shot national political ambitions or she simply can't handle the job now that her popularity has dimmed and oil revenues are down. Either way, her decision to abandon her post and the people of Alaska who elected her continues a pattern of bizarre behavior that more than anything else may explain the decision she made today."
THEORY 8: HER HANDLERS ARE INCOMPETENT
Could Palin’s resignation shocker simply be the product of poor handling? Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins said Palin looks “terribly inept”:
I think everyone is shocked by this, and I think to a certain extent everyone is going to assume there's another story. You don't just quit with a year and a half to go. You certainly don't do this as a stepping stone to run for president. You finish the job that you're in, and obviously she's not doing that…. You don't quit on the Friday of a three-day holiday. If you are going to do this, you think it through, you give a good speech....
THEORY 9: SHE’S ANGLING FOR A TV SHOW
Longtime Palin detractor Andrew Sullivan burst into a series of “stunned… yet not surprised at all” posts on his blog at The Atlantic, and notes that she could always pull a Huckabee and parlay her political cred into a career on the small screen:
Once the klieglights hit, it was only a matter of time before she imploded or exploded or some gruesome combination of the two. The librul media will be blamed for everything on her inexorable path to becoming a Fox News celebrity. Maybe a reality show? Someone hire her for The View!
THEORY 10: SHE HAS A GOD COMPLEX
In his controversial Vanity Fair profile, Purdum noted that multiple Alaskans who worked closely with Palin accused her of having Narcissistic Personality Disorder. While some argued that Palin’s attention-seeking qualities were de rigeur for politics, the governor’s resignation speech suggested a desire to avoid a drop in relevance during her lame duck session:
Once I decided not to run for re-election, I also felt that to embrace the conventional ‘Lame Duck’ status in this particular climate would just be another dose of ‘politics as usual,’ something I campaigned against and will always oppose.Sarah giveth and she taketh away.