Like many people I know, I’m heading out of town for the holiday weekend, and, like many people I know, I have my own pet theory about the Palin resignation.
I am skeptical about the idea that this resignation is the first shot across Tim Pawlenty’s bow in the race for the 2012 nomination. Could Palin be misguided enough to think that resigning midway through her first term as governor will somehow enhance her credentials for the Presidency? Or even for the Senate? John McCain was widely mocked when he suspended his campaign. What about somebody who suspends her sworn duty to serve and govern midway through her first term?
There may be a lucrative TV contract waiting for Sarah Palin (many have speculated that she’s heading to Fox), or a bad reality TV series (picture a cross between The Osbournes and The Anna Nicole Show). This is a little easier to buy than the suggestion that she’s resigning because she just doesn’t like politics and the national spotlight. More cartoons about Trig? More jokes about her daughter? How could anyone be expected to govern under such conditions? Sarah Palin revels in celebrity and her own folksy megalomania, and her remark about the “full court press” coming her way may be just more evidence of the paranoia which megalomaniacs and other sociopaths often exhibit.
It seems obvious that another shoe is ready to drop, as many bloggers and even a few in the mainstream media have speculated. Max Blumenthal over at the Daily Beast sees an “iceberg scandal” coming, involving a company called Spenard Building Supplies and an indictment of the Governor herself for embezzlement.
This is the most credible theory of all, in my view. Look at the structure of Palin’s resignation. She will officially hand over the reigns of power to Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell at the Governor’s picnic in Fairbanks, Alaska later this month. The picnic is scheduled for July 26th. The delay in the official transfer of power seems to suggest a plea bargain, or some kind of arrangement with prosecutors, so that the transition to Parnell’s tenure as governor can be made as smoothly as possible. What the people of Alaska can expect in the way of governance from now until then is anybody’s guess.
If there is an indictment in the works, no one should be surprised. Palin has a shady history, rife with charges of ethics violations. What surprises me, and what continues to surprise me from one scandal to the next, are the expressions of shock and dismay when we learn that the powerful are corrupt, or that political power is itself a form of corruption. If you want to think about this over the holiday weekend – and it seems only appropriate to do so on July 4th – you might want to consider this passage from Karl Popper’s Open Society and its Enemies.
There is no history of mankind, there is only an indefinite number of histories of all kinds of aspects of human life. And one of these is the history of political power. This is elevated into the history of the world. But this, I hold, is an offence against every decent conception of mankind. It is hardly better than to treat the history of embezzlement or of robbery or of poisoning as the history of mankind. For the history of power politics is nothing but the history of international crime and mass murder (including it is true, some of the attempts to suppress them). This history is taught in schools, and some of the greatest criminals are extolled as heroes.
After July 26th, we may have to amend that last sentence to read that some of the greatest criminals are sometimes extolled as heroines, too.