08/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

If Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm Had Resigned Instead of Sarah Palin

In a breathless, rambling press conference outside Lake Lansing today, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced she wouldn't be "taking the quitter's way out" and that's why she was quittin.'

"Only dead fish go with the flow," the gov. said sagely, which observers took as some oblique reference to lutefisk, a staple of her Swedish heritage.

Granholm explained that she had polled Dan and the kids, who vociferously voted for her to resign (though none were so coarse as to offer a "hell yeah"). Then she berated the media for failing to report all the "good news" in the Mitten State, like the 2 millionth ad featuring an uncomfortably sweater-clad Tim Allen hocking "Pure Michigan" or the 500,000 jobs single-handedly created by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) last month alone.

Finally, she broke into a smug smile. "In the words of General MacArthur said, 'We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.'"

Of course, that sentence lacked any grammatical coherence whatsoever and would have earned a failing grade in your average junior high English class. But no matter. We pundits were dazzled by the brazenness, the boldness of Jennifer - she would only be known by one name now, like Madonna - and immediately began trying to decode her brilliance.

Was she ready to take that Swedish ambassadorship? An impending opening on the federal bench? No, I could see it plain as day. She was running for prime minister in her native Canada in 2012. The heartless Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution could no longer cage her. Jennifer was flying free and would soon achieve the greatness that was her destiny.

She just had to sock Michigan in the gut to get there.

Of course, those were actually the antics of that kinetic Klondike train wreck, Sarah Palin. But I'd say the above scenario is as plausible as Palin lounging in the Oval Office in '13. I reckon that governing Michigan must be even less fun than Alaska - we of 14.1 percent unemployment, a $1.7 billion state deficit and a decade-long recession. But to Granholm's credit, she's at least sticking it out, at least until President Obama calls.

Then again, Granholm doesn't have the option to make millions with her gum-cracking, naughty high-heeled boots schtick on a Fox News show. The aging Ann Coulter seems to be the real loser in Palin's resignation, since she'll no longer be the go-to conservative eye candy to wax venomous on everything godless and liberal.

Granholm also lacks Palin's legions of doting disciples to propel her into superstardom (all that's left, I believe, are two liberal bloggers). The Wasilla wonder, on the other hand, is beloved by a few conservatives, as well as anti-government types, evangelicals, drooling dudes and your garden-variety racists (Don't believe me? Check out ye olde Internet, an eye-opening experience).

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is wading back into the warm bowels of victimhood, whining that everyone's pilin' on about her steppin' down. But I guarantee you that if Granholm flies the coop -- even if she's dressed in a muted Brooks Brothers suit and issues remarks free of all-caps rants suitable for Facebook - the press will eat her alive.

The fact is, Michigan and Alaska are struggling with economic uncertainty not seen since the Great Depression. Our governors took an oath to lead. And if they get going when the going gets tough, they deserve to be excoriated.

Palin was almost a heartbeat away from the presidency. Since losing in November, she has actively courted a high national profile with right-to-lifers and her political action committee. And yet she's shocked, shocked that she's subject to scrutiny. Of course, her bizarre press conference performance, replete with falsehoods like the taxpayer cost of ethics complaints against her, provided plenty of material for pundits, liberal and conservative alike.

Some right-wing clowns like Mark Levin and Bill Kristol think liberals are terrified that Palin will run for president. The gun-totin', bible-quotin', community college goin', hot mama of five Real American is the perfect antidote to our arugula-consuming, Harvard-educated, multi-syllabic-loving first black president. Not that there are any crass stereotypes involved in this calculation, natch.

But GOP strategist Bill Pascoe raises the fundamental question that's been blithely ignored by the evil librul media: "What's missing in all the instant analyses of will-she-won't-she is a rather more simple calculus -- not as to whether or not this move will hurt her chances should she choose to run for President down the road, but as to whether or not this move should hurt her chances should she choose to run for President down the road.

"It is as if no one in the commentariat wants any longer to make judgments of right and wrong; instead, it's all treated, quite cynically, along the axis of whether or not this is a 'wise' move or not, politically speaking."

That's a puerile Washington parlor game. What this episode shows is that Sarah Palin - she who could not explain the Bush Doctrine, name a Supreme Court case outside of Roe v. Wade or even list what newspapers she reads - remains shockingly unprepared for any significant policy role. Her big selling point as veep was her executive experience, but now she's decided to she's too important to even finish her first gubernatorial term.

You might recall that the motto of John McCain's campaign was "Country First." Hard to argue that's what his running mate's resignation was about.