A tiny cousin of mine shrieked as an F-16 flew low overhead. I took my seat next to an uncle of mine who I'd sparred with ceaselessly over the course of the '08 elections, pretending that nothing had happened the previous day.
Friday newsdumps are an insidious thing to the information addict. Holiday ones doubly so. Not knowing over the weekend if there was any truth to these Iceberg rumors, or if this move by the aspiring Hockey Mom in Chief was an attempt to cut losses-- in approval rating, in credibility-- or to open up new ways to make money, or some combination of them all. Fox News seems to be swallowing the notion that Sarah Palin, saber in hand atop her gleaming white stallion, is going to affect some miraculous sea change on behalf of Real America, which should come as a surprise to no one. In any case, for those of us who Must Know, it's easy to feel like a fish out of water. Hell, even on the day of the announcement many news programs were cancelled.
Reading People 101 demands that we not take this speech at face value. I mean, just listen.
This is not a speech that was adequately prepared for. The rushed diction, the transparent doublethink... Only Palin's words were telling us that she was moving forward to bigger and better things. So what's really going on now?
Is she about to be indicted? If there wasn't some new scandal about to surface, it wouldn't be Sarah Palin. There are rumblings amongst insiders that a federal embezzlement case is building against her surrounding the Wasilla Sports Complex she had built with 15 million in taxpayer funds, some of them federal, which cost the town over a million dollars in legal fees that ultimately bankrupted it just as then Mayor Palin left to run for Lieutenant Governor. The building contractor, Spenard Building Supplies, was a sponsor of Todd Palin's snowmachine racing team, hired Sarah Palin to shoot television commercials, and supplied the building materials for the Palin family home--which Todd claimed that he built with "buddies" of his-- on Lake Lucille. The facts on the table are certainly par for the course in Alaska, and possibly worthy of an ethics inquiry, especially given the fact that Palin blocked a measure that would have required that the building permits be filed and details disclosed. But they don't amount to real trouble, unless there's truth to reports that the building materials in question were from the Wasilla Sports Complex
For the record, the FBI has taken the rare step of denying that Sarah Palin is under investigation. So if there's another shoe that's going to drop, it won't be any time soon.
So if she's not about to be charged with something, what else could it be?
- She was once the most popular governor in the country, boasting approval ratings over 80%. Now she leaves with 55%, not exceptionally less than Obama's. If she'd stayed on, decreases in oil revenues would have either forced her to seek federal money, leaving her wide open for attacks by a Romney campaign and effectively ruining her chances at winning the Republican nomination for President in 2012, or watch her state continue to decline into total economic ruin, killing any remaining illusions of competency.
- If she were to remain governor, she'd likely be forced to reveal the terms of her book deal, which I doubt that she's all that keen on doing. There would also be less opportunities in general to profit from her notoriety as a movement Conservative (you have to think that Fox News is at least considering offering her a show). And it's far easier to build a campaign warchest if you don't have to spend your time, well, being governor of Alaska. While she'd been spending a fair amount of time shirking those duties to keep herself in the limelight, continuing to do so for the remainder of her term is a losing strategy if she's serious about making a run for the White House.
So is there more to this Iceberg scandal? Is it something else entirely? Could she, against all odds, be telling the truth about her intentions?
We're clearly not done here.