Is Sarah Palin’s Political Career Toast?

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Photo: AP

Sarah Palin has pulled off another one of those mavericky moves that perhaps only like-minded mavericks can truly understand. As everyone has heard by now, Palin announced her imminent resignation as governor of Alaska in a rambling, often incoherent speech on Friday that left the political world absolutely stunned. The political commentariat — or at least the ones willing to shun the beautiful holiday weekend — went into speculation overdrive. Why is she doing this? Is she dropping out of politics altogether? It doesn't seem like it, as Palin later posted a message on her Facebook page which, as Chuck Todd and friends say, "sounded like someone with dreams of the Oval Office dancing in her head." Is there some kind of ethics scandal about to drop? The FBI says they're not investigating Palin for anything, but that hasn't stopped the rumors from swirling — rumors over which Palin is threatening to sue the media. But if the move is supposed to help her prepare for a run at the presidency in the near future, as many assume, how that is supposed to work isn't exactly clear. Most political observers think Palin has, at the least, damaged her political prospects, and some predict she has utterly destroyed her chances at the presidency forever.

Stick Fork in Her, She's Done

• Josh Marshall thinks that "what very little shot she had as a future presidential candidate (and it was a much longer shot than I think many realized) is over. She's done." And "any pundit who thinks this is some risky but potentially brilliant strategic move is absolutely smoking crack." (See below.) [TPM]

• E.J. Dionne is "inclined to think that" Palin's zany resignation speech is "a career ender, despite the insistence of so many that you never say never in politics. Yes, Nixon did come back after that last press conference of his. But Nixon had political gifts that Palin doesn’t." [Post Partisan/WP]

• Ed Morrissey thinks this is "the end of any hope of Palin getting taken seriously as a politician on the national level in the future." [Hot Air]

• Ezra Klein doesn't even really understand why people considered Palin a "viable presidential prospect before this decision, much less after it." Recall that she was "an unmitigated, even unique, catastrophe as a vice-presidential candidate. This is not normal, incidentally." [WP]

• Rod Dreher thinks "it seems pretty clear that there won't be a President Palin, ever." [Crunchy Con/Beliefnet]

• Howard Kurtz believes there's "[n]o way Palin can run for president now." [HowardKurtz/Twitter]

This Certainly Won't Help Things

• Matthew Cooper says it's unclear whether Palin "has irreparably harmed her chances of running for higher office," though if this is some kind of strategy for a 2012 presidential run, "it's bizarre, at best." [Atlantic]

• Steve Benen thinks Palin shouldn't be able to recover, "and the country will be better off if she isn't able to, but I'm not quite ready to rule out the possibility." [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• The Wall Street Journal editorial board contends that the resignation "isn't the best way to persuade voters you're ready for the more demanding rigors and scrutiny of the White House." [WSJ]

• Alex Koppelman says that though Palin's base will still love her, "[t]he people she needs if she wants to make a run at the presidency in 2012 are the kind likely to be unimpressed by this move — the Republican establishment, especially money men and veteran operatives, along with more moderate Republicans and independents." If this is all part of her plan to get to higher office, it's "an unconventional move at best, a fatal one at worst." [War Room/Salon]

• Michael Tomasky bets "that quitting her gig will hurt [Palin] more than it will help." If "she couldn't even stand to stay in the kitchen in far-off Anchorage when it got hot ... how would she handle the national heat?" Palin will try to get back in the game, but Republicans "probably have enough sense to try to keep her off the court and coalesce around some other candidate." [Guardian UK]

• Michael Barone is "puzzled" by those "hailing her resignation as a political masterstroke." How does this "strengthen her as a presidential candidate?" [National Review]

• Mark Steyn writes that "[a]s a political move for anything other than the 2010 Senate race," Palin's announcement was "a disaster. And I'm not sure it's a plus for the Senate — and, even if it were, the manner and timing suggest it was not a professionally planned event and therefore is unlikely to have any grand strategy behind it." [Corner/National Review]

• Rich Lowry says Palin has "plenty of time if (as I assume) she wants to run in 2012, and she obviously has plenty of capital with Republicans," though her "terrible," "rambling" speech was "not an auspicious start." [Corner/National Review]

Well, Maybe in 2016, 2020 ...

• Ross Douthat believes that, as a youthful 45-year-old, Palin has time to resurrect herself. But her "rambling resignation speech should take her off the political map for the duration of the Obama era." [Corner/National Review]

• Jim Geraghty writes that a 2012 or a 2016 campaign is out of the question. But "[i]f Palin decides to seek the presidency at the age that Hillary Clinton was when she ran in the 2008 cycle, she will be running in ... 2024. That's a half a generation, and several political lifetimes, away." [Campaign Spot/National Review]

• Victor Davis Hanson says Palin isn't "looking at 2012; but in eight years by 2016 she will be far more savvy, still young, and far more experienced. It matters not [at] all that the Left writes her off as daffy, since they were going to do that whatever she did; the key is whether she convinces conservatives in eight years of travel and reflection that she's a charismatic Margaret Thatcher-type heavyweight." [Corner/National Review]

• Jay Cost suggests "that perhaps Governor Palin has no designs on the presidency. Her resignation on Friday is certainly consistent with this thesis. Perhaps she has a mind for 2016 or 2020, but that is so far away that there is little planning for it now." [Horserace/RealClearPolitics]

Stroke of Genius

• Bill Kristol claims the move is "an enormous gamble — but it could be a shrewd one." Now Palin "can do her book, give speeches, travel the country and the world, campaign for others, meet people, get more educated on the issues — and without being criticized for neglecting her duties in Alaska." [Blog/Weekly Standard]

• Mary Matalin asserts that Palin does and should have a future in politics, and that her decision was "really brilliant." [National Review, YouTube]