There has been little normal or orthodox about Palin’s political career and trying to assess why she is walking away now isn’t easy. One can make a credible case that she is doing so because she has had her fill of politics, certainly that what NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell has heard. (And whatever one thinks of Palin, some of the attacks on her family have been disgusting Or, you can argue, as Bill Kristol does, that by leaving Alaska she gives herself the time to build up a national campaign.
John McCain’s selection of Palin as his VP came out of the blue; it was a recognition of the fact that his campaign needed to shake things up to have a chance. It is easy to forget now, but Palin’s first few days were a success. She absolutely nailed her convention speech. It was only under more in-depth questioning that everything began to fall apart.
Straight after the 2008 election, the consensus among those sympathetic to Palin in the Republican establishment was that she should go back to Alaska, build up her policy chops and study up on all the issues that a presidential candidate needs to master. She could then run as someone who had both appeal to the base but also appeared a reasonable choice to less-ideological voters. She has now taken that option off the table. If she does run in the Republican primaries in 2012, it will have to be as a movement candidate, one taken on faith. That strategy might just win her the nomination of a sadly shrunken Republican party but it will never deliver the White House.