I. One year ago today, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced that she was going to resign from that office. It was three weeks notice. Her somewhat incoherent speech seemed strained, to say the least. Those among her family and staff, grouped around her on the shore of the lake she helped kill through her development policies, looked as stunned as fish in the oxygen-starved waters behind her.
The news director of an Anchorage radio station had called me about 50 minutes before the speech, telling me that "something BIG is up," hoping I might go out to Palin’s house, which is only 15 minutes away, and phone in a report. I told him I thought she was going to announce that she would be the first signatory to a ballot initiative on parental consent for teen abortion. He replied that he’d heard a rumor that Palin was going to announce she wouldn’t be running for a second term.
An hour later, watching her strange rant, I began writing a post for firedoglake. Nobody knew why she had chosen this moment to announce abdication. We speculated. I got an email asking for the ten most likely reasons she was resigning. I wrote back, guessing wildly:
1. The materials stolen from the Sports Complex project that went into Pain’s house.
2. The fire at Palin’s church
3. Todd’s off-the-books payments as contracting consultant on last year’s mansion renovation in Juneau
4. Kickbacks from all the sleazy deals surrounding teh demise of Matanuska Maid creamery and agricultural loans in the Mat-Su Valley
5. Some other income tax-related deal
6. Taking bribes that we don’t know about – possibly related to AGIA
7. Attempts to bribe Levi Johnston
8. Records on Sherri Johnston’s bust related to Bristol Palin’s cell phone
9. Possibility of illegality in the funneling of state funds to evangelical organizations.
and who knows what else…..?
It was none of those. It now appears most likely that she had been advised of the results of preliminary findings regarding the legality of her legal defense slush kitty, The Alaska Fund Trust, and felt she had to come up with a way to start making far more money than would be possible while remaining governor. It took almost a year for the findings on the fund’s legality to become public, and they were very adverse to Palin, forcing her trust to return almost $400,000.00 to donors. She certainly didn’t have that kind of money on July 3rd, 2009, nor a way to pay her attorneys for the cost of the ethics complaint she filed against herself in the Troopergate scandal.
II. Looking back on the weeks leading up to her resignation announcement, one sees a gubernatorial administration in complete tatters. As I wrote a year ago (many links are embedded in the original):
Most recently, she has seen a crash in fundraising efforts. Last week, the Palin shrine, Conservatives4Palin, concluded a weeklong effort to raise $500,000 for Palin’s legal bils, having reached only 21% of their goal. Wednesday, the state began releasing figures that indicated the majority of expenses borne by the state, involving so-called "ethics complaints’ involving Palin, have resulted from a complaint Palin had filed against herself, and from complaints that resulted in negotiated settlements adverse to the governor’s claim that she is a crusader for ethics reform.
Her legal bills are approaching 2/3 of a million dollars. Much, if not almost all, of her legal bills stem from her own conduct as governor, and over issues having to do what her daughter’s son’s father is strongly suspected of holding over the family.
Yesterday, a new records request was filed by one of Alaska’s most activist bloggers, Linda Kellen Biegel.
With the web publication of the August issue of Vanity Fair’s long article about Palin, and the high level of infighting among GOP figures and people involved in the 2008 McCain-Palin campaign about aspects of that article, Palin, for the fourth week in a row, was insinuated into the news in a garish way unprecedented in American politics.
Her popularity inside of Alaska, particularly among Alaska Natives, was plummeting:
Resentment against her policies by Alaska Natives has been simmering just below a boil all winter and spring. This past week, the resentment boiled over into open civil disobedience, as villagers along the Yukon not only fished in closed waters to obtain food for winter, they defied Palin’s law enforcement agencies openly. In the village of Marshall, police officers joined in the illegal subsistence fishing, not even bothering to hide their involvement.
I’ve caught her in at least four major lies during the past six or seven days.
In the days leading up to last July 3rd’s announcement, Palin was almost insanely tweeting away in the middle of the night, as the inner turmoil must have been seething. In the interim between her abdication announcement and the actual quitting, her middle-of-the-night tweets got even more bizarre.
Palin was cracking up. We could see it from our houses:
III. In the year since that strange resignation announcement Palin has gone on to become a unique fixture in our political mix. She already was, but this intensely dishonest politician who combines the magnetism of Aimee Semple McPherson, the magnanimity of Scrooge, the polarization of a magnetron, and the magnitude of wisdom of Jerry Falwell, somehow will not go away, and continues to insinuate herself into the national political dialogue.
Her chances of becoming the GOP presidential nominee for 2012 are probably as good as anyone’s, as her popularity among the evangelical and fundamentalist segment of their base is not diminishing, even though her overall positive rating among Americans is relentlessly fading. Her handlers’ ability to use social networking tools like twitter and facebook to her advantage is out of proportion to what these tweets and postings actually signify in their content.
Renewed interest by Andrew Sullivan, Alaska bloggers and other Palin-centric bloggers in the issue of TriG Palin may one day actually lead to ground perilous to Palin’s hopes, but I tend to doubt it. As interesting as their speculation is, I remain convinced that Palin, by hiding her last pregnancy, was merely trying to kill the fetus, whether she was fully conscious of that or not.
Palin may be setting up the beginnings of an Iowa team. We’ll probably know within five months or so whether she is actually going to run for president, but her mixed signals have mostly pointed toward a "yes."