There is a lot we don't know about Sarah Palin's decision to resign. But there is one thing we do know: She thought it was politically damaging.
No one announces good news late on Friday before Fourth of July weekend. That is someone who is trying to bury bad news as much as possible. With Michael Jackson and Mark Sanford stories still lingering around, everyone on vacation, and as little reporters working as possible, she releases this bombshell. That's someone who obviously thinks what she is doing is not going to help her, at least in the short term.
There are three main possibilities for why she did this:
1. Political Reasons
She is going to run for President in 2012 and she thinks she is better served going around the country laying the groundwork for that run rather than stuck in Alaska. Plus, she already checked off "Governor of Alaska" on her resume. No need to linger. Take the short term hit on the early resignation and build for the long term move.
If this is what she's thinking, then I think she made a mistake. She looks callous and indifferent to any office she holds. It makes her seem flighty and overly ambitious. Plus, does anyone have any confidence that she gives a damn about policy or making a difference? No, her main interest is plainly obvious now -- the career of Sarah Palin.
2. Personal Reasons
No, not because she wants to better take care of her family. Come on, how funny does that sound? She seemed fine with juggling her family and her career when she was on a national ticket. No, by personal reasons I mean -- money.
The Palins have always had an eye for the good life. This is her one chance to definitively cash in. Who knows if an opportunity like this comes along again? Huge speaking fees, book advance, etc. Hopefully, she makes the money and increases her profile at the same time, setting her up for a decent shot at the Republican primary. Win or lose, she gets more famous, repeats the cycle and makes even more bank.
This strategy probably will work. Will she gain enough momentum for a decent shot at the presidency? No, this could backfire in that regard. Will she make plenty of money trying? Yes.
3. Upcoming Scandal
This is always possible when a politician resigns abruptly and talks about spending time with their family. There are already rumors floating out there that there are federal investigators in Alaska already looking into influence peddling for financial favors. These stories would dovetail nicely with the "go for the money" attitude described above.
She could also just be tired of all the ethics investigations when she has already checked off the "Governor of Alaska" line in her resume. It's so tiresome being in public office and trying to appear ethical when you can be as unethical as you like in the private sector.
We need more information before figuring which of these possibilities (or combination of possibilities) is closer to true. But what we do know is that whatever the reason was, she gets that it makes her look pretty bad now. We'll probably find out soon enough why she was willing to take this hit at this time.