Sarah Palin plays Checkers

No, I’m not making a snotty reference to chess versus checkers. I mean Nixon’s Checkers Speech.

She has had a Nixonian orthogonian thing going on for quite a while. Instead of a poor little dog, she references a poor little point guard, but the basic tone and tenor is the same.

Now, of course, Tricky Dick upended much conventional wisdom at the time and came back from the political dead after his 1952 public and pouting self pity party. It remains to be seen if she garners the kind of relatively broad sympathy that Nixon did.

My guess is that this will not help her. Many conservatives are questioning the move. And there are rumors of an “iceberg scandal” as well.

So, there could be some big ethical scandal coming out soon. And if that was the impetus for her resignation, resigning will in no way prevent the news from coming out. If anything, it will only ensure even more coverage than it would have already received.

Or maybe there’s a health reason, either with her or a family member.

Or, some of the early speculation is correct and she’s getting ready for a presidential run and, for whatever reason(s), she though quitting before the completion of her first and only term as governor would be a good idea.

That seems like a questionable call. It seems like she’s giving up. Maybe, as some have speculated, if this is indeed why she resigned, she thought she could only properly run and raise money unencumbered by the burden of public service.

But I think it will remind people not only of the paranoid and self pitying Checkers speech but also of McCain’s wildly ill conceived decision to ‘suspend’ his campaign last fall due to problems with the economy.

I don’t see this in any way benefiting her. My guess is that much more will come out soon and it may be that this was the best of a set of bad options. But I just don’t see how this can benefit her if she really does intend to run for the presidency in 2012.

Update: TPM reports that MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell has a source saying Palin is “out of politics for good.”

Update II: Many are drawing comparisons with Nixon’s 1962 speech in which he glowered that “you won’t have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore.” I still think the Checkers speech is at least as, if not more, apt. Obviously, it’s not a perfect analog, but the elements of self justification and the absence of an explicit farewell in her Wasilla announcement seem closer to Checkers than Nixon’s supposed self exiling speech ten years later.


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