07/02/2010 07:17 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Palin quits: One year later

The bombshell that's still sending aftershocks rippling through the American political class had its epicenter near Lake Lucille on the quiet morning of July 3.

On that day last year, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin summoned reporters to her lakeside home for what was billed as a surprise announcement. Some of the scribes took it as less than monumental and arrived late. They faced trouble getting to a scene carefully staged in front of TV cameras on the lake shore.

There -- with babies crying in the background, planes sometimes buzzing overhead, and the ducks behind Palin squawking -- the governor of Alaska and former candidate for vice president began a rambling speech that praised American servicemen on the eve of Independence Day, slapped the media and "political operatives'' for challenging her behavior as governor, and finally, announced that she was resigning her post to ensure there would be no more "politics as usual.''

No more prescient pronouncement has ever been made by an Alaska politician.

"She outsmarted everybody," said veteran Alaska pollster Dave Dittman. "She simply removed herself from the line of fire.''

In that moment, Palin -- the rhetorical flame thrower of the 2008 presidential campaign -- put herself back in the game in a way that fundamentally changed political discourse throughout the country. Even in Alaska, where her departure was hardly felt, there would be no more politics as usual -- in fact, there would not be much of anything as usual.

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