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Paul Begala

Paul Begala

Posted: July 3, 2009 10:35 PM

I wish Hunter S. Thompson had lived to see this.

As Hunter said, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Sarah Palin makes Mark Foley, the congressman who sent filthy emails to pages look almost normal. She makes David Vitter, the senator who was hanging out with hookers, look almost boring. She makes Larry Craig, caught hitting on a cop in a men's room, look almost stable. She makes John Ensign, the senator who was having an affair with a staffer, look almost humdrum (and compared to the rest of the GOP whack-jobs, he is). And she makes Mark Sanford, the governor with the Latin lover, look positively predictable.

It was an almost impossible mission, but in resigning from office with 17 months to go in her first term, Sarah Palin has made herself the bull goose loony of the GOP.

Let's stipulate that if there is some heretofore unknown personal, medical or family crisis, this was the right move. But Gov. Palin didn't say anything like that. Her statement was incoherent, bizarre and juvenile. The text, as posted on Gov. Palin's official website (here), uses 2,549 words and 18 exclamation points. Lincoln freed the slaves with 719 words and nary an exclamation; Mr. Jefferson declared our independence in 1,322 words and, again, no exclamation points. Nixon resigned the presidency in 1,796 words -- still no exclamation points. Gov. Palin capitalized words at random - whole words, like "TO," "HELP," and "AND," and the first letter of "Troops."

Gov. Palin's official announcement that she is resigning as chief executive of the great state of Alaska had all the depth and gravitas of a 13-year-old's review of the Jonas Brothers' album on Facebook. She even quoted her parents' refrigerator magnet. (Note to self: if one of my kids becomes governor, throw away the refrigerator magnet that says: "Murray's Oyster Bar: We Shuck Em, You Suck Em!") She put her son's name in quotations marks. Why? Who knows. She writes, "I promised efficiencies and effectiveness!?" Was she exclaiming or questioning? I get it: both! And I don't even know what to make of a sentence that reads:

*((Gotta put First Things First))*

Ponder the fact that Rupert Murdoch's Harper Collins publishing house is paying this, umm, writer millions for a book. * Ponder that and say a prayer for Ms. Palin's editor.

I'm no latter-day Strunk & White, just a guy who was struck by Palin's spectacularly rambling and infantile prose. It bespeaks a rambling and infantile mind. But perhaps not. Perhaps this is all a ruse. Perhaps Gov. Palin wants us to believe she's an intellectual featherweight who is slightly shallower than an actor on High School Musical. Maybe she's trying to throw us off the trail.

Naah. A lot of people thought that about George W. Bush. He couldn't be so block-headed, they said. He couldn't be as childish and churlish as he came off. Oh yes he could. And so, too, might Ms. Palin be as vapid and puerile as her inane statement suggests.

We will know. In the fullness of time (and I predict, not much time) we will know. Again and again in her statement, Gov. Palin returned to the nettlesome ethics inquiries that have been visited upon her since she signed on to be John McCain's running mate. No doubt they are annoying. But does anyone believe that's why she's resigning? No, there's more to this story. And Ms. Palin's resignation only increases the chances that we will all know the rest of the story soon. Or, as she might put it:

We will all KNOW the "rest of the Story" *((SOON!))*


* An earlier version of this piece incorrectly stated that Palin's book deal was $11 million.