Alter: Resignation is Palin's Opening for 2012

I could be wrong. Maybe there's a huge scandal about to swamp Sarah Palin. Maybe she'll take a gig as a Fox News pundit. But my gut tells me we just heard the rough draft of her announcement speech for her 2012 presidential campaign. What did her kids all say "yes" to (and one, "hell yeah!")? Going to Disney World in the lower 48? I don't think so.

The speech was more prepared than early pundits have indicated. It was clearly shaped with the help of some minor league political professionals. All the platitudes were there in their faded glory: "from the shores of Maine to Texas and California"; "God bless our military"; "no more conventional politics as usual"; "make a positive difference outside Alaska."

Palin's recitation of her record as governor no doubt sounds impressive to Republican and some independent ears: A gas line project that was the biggest private sector energy development ever ("This is energy independence"); "bipartisan ethics reform": "unprecedented support for education;" "slowed growth of government"; "made no lobbyist friends." In fact, she said, in words one can almost hear in 2011 in Iowa, her goal was to do this all in four years but "we did it in two."

Palin is the Nixon of our time, and the "point guard going through the full court press with her head up" speech was almost Checkersesque. Nobody in the media was going to make Nixon give up the family dog or block Palin's bounce pass under the basket. The troops, she says, "know life is short and choose not to waste time." They know Sarah should leave Alaska and seek her destiny. What nerve. Even Nixon never used American troops abroad to rationalize political ambition. (On second thought, wasn't that what his 1972 campaign was all about?).

Nixon famously said, "I'm not a quitter" (before quitting). Palin said people who "plod along" on "the worthless path" have taken "the quitters way out." She actually quit while attacking quitters. For a certain kind of numbskull, that counts as smooth. Now she's free to be feted by conservatives in every state. She didn't really quit, you see. She just quit holding back in her search for liberal prey.

The final proof that Palin has no intention of fading away is that she quoted Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who was only pretending to fade away (from his perch addressing a joint session of Congress). "MacArthur said, 'We're not retreating, we're advancing in another direction,'" she concluded. So is Palin, south and east, from Lake Wasilla to the Potomac.