For Palin, Act I closes, exit stage right
She resigned as Alaska's governor Sunday with her typical populist flare, blasting the president's policies and the press. But details of her future remain a mystery.
In her last speech as Alaskaâ€™s governor, Sarah Palin sought to leave America with no doubts that though she has retired from public office, the feisty hockey mom â€“ aka "pit bull" in lipstick â€“ who accepted the Republican vice presidential nomination last November remains.
Ms. Palin formally turned over the Alaska governorship to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, leaving her post 1-1/2 years early, at the annual governorâ€™s picnic in Fairbanks Sunday. But some of her more pointed comments seemed aimed not toward the constituency she was leaving behind, but at the nation at large.
She took a shot at advocates of government programs, including President Obama and his economic stimulus: â€śWe can resist enslavement to big central government,â€ť she proclaimed.
She scoffed at those who questioned her decision to leave office early without having another position lined up. â€śIt should be so obvious to you,â€ť she said to applause. â€śWith this decision now I will be able to fight even harder for you for what is right, and for truth. And I have never felt that you need a title to do that.â€ť
And she had some â€śstraight talkâ€ť for some in the press: â€śDemocracy depends on you.... So how about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up?â€ť she said, to more thunderous applause. "Our new governor has a very nice family, too, so leave his kids alone."
For Palin, Monday is the first day of a new career that remains a mystery to anyone outside her innermost circle of friends and advisers. For Alaska, it is a day simply to get back to business â€“ including, perhaps, overturning some of Palinâ€™s final decisions as governor.
Sunday, however, seemed more celebration â€“ and anticipation â€“ than retrospection. It was the third of three governorâ€™s picnics â€“ first in Palinâ€™s hometown of Wasilla, then Anchorage, and last Fairbanks.
The picnics are a summer tradition that all Alaska governors have honored, but Palinâ€™s celebrity and her impending departure drew thousands of backers, star-struck tourists, die-hard Alaska supporters, and the national news media.
Fans included Tammy Thompson, who braved a downpour at the Anchorage picnic to carry around a sign that proclaimed: â€śSARAH, YOUâ€™RE AS GREAT AS ALASKA!â€ť
Ms. Thompson said she was sympathetic to Palinâ€™s decision to quit. â€śSheâ€™s got to do what sheâ€™s got to do,â€ť Thompson said. She hopes that includes a run for president in 2012. â€śThe time is right, because we need a good woman who knows what womanhood is all about. God bless her,â€ť she said.
Alaska politics is expected to be much quieter with Mr. Parnell at the helm. The new governor, an attorney and former state legislator, is considered more workman-like and much less charismatic than his predecessor. An opponent once derided him as â€śCaptain Zero.â€ť
Even with Palin gone, however, the legislature is not quite done with her.
Lawmakers are set to hold a special session Aug. 10 to handle unfinished business left by the departed governor. The headliner: an expected override of Palinâ€™s veto of $28 million in federal stimulus funds for energy-conservation projects that would be directed toward poverty-stricken rural areas.
Says state Rep. Mike Hawker, an Anchorage Republican who has expressed exasperation at what he considers Palinâ€™s emphasis on national ambitions at the expense of state interests: â€śFor all of us, quite frankly, itâ€™s just going to be another day at the office.â€ť
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