The Shoe That Didn't Drop

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A scandal didn't force Sarah Palin to resign from office.

That's at least the facts as we know them today about the former Alaska governor's resignation in July. One month ago Palin shocked the world -- as she has a penchant for doing -- by announcing she would leave office after only 32 months as the state's chief executive.

Palin critics were almost unified in their belief that she was getting out of office ahead of a mammoth scandal. A leading anti-Palin blogger, Shannyn Moore, said she was holding her breath for the other shoe to drop after weeks of rumors of a criminal investigation. Anonymously sourced reports alleged that nothing less than federal indictments of Palin over embezzling money from her days as Wasilla mayor were in the offing. All the talk was of an "iceberg scandal" that was huge but undercover.

Thirty days later no criminal investigations or indictments have surfaced. Nor has there been any news reported about such pending matters. It's hard to believe this is for a lack of finding out from the news media that has made her the most talked about woman in America all year. There are days where she leads the news, not President Obama, or even a posthumous Michael Jackson.

Investigations and indictments can take months to be made public after they are unearthed, but again, there's been no credible reporting that Palin is under the aegis of the feds or state prosecutors. The closest Palin is being examined is by an ethics investigator in Alaska who said it is probable she improperly used her position as a public official to collect donations for a private legal defense fund. However, the investigator suggests Palin simply not take money from the fund, and instead appeal to the state to handle these legal matters.

Palin's supporters and critics who are confused about why she left office should take the former governor at her word for what motivated her to leave office, unless and until a criminal investigation or indictment appears.

But that can be tough to accept. Many suppose that Palin wants to run for president in 2012 and that her leaving the governorship is so destructive to that end that there must be a reason bigger than her ambition to win the White House. For her critics, this leaves a scandal or avarice that could be satisfied with million-dollar book and television deals that can't be inked from the governor's desk. For her supporters it means Palin cares more about keeping her family out of the bright lights than political office.

All that's clear is that 30 days after leaving the governorship Palin still has us guessing. Rest assured: we will all be guessing for much longer than the next 30 days.

Post was updated to show that Palin was in office 32 months (not 18), thanks to reader hrh40.

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Justin Miller was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 to 2011. He is now the homepage editor at New York magazine. More

Justin Miller was a associate editor at The Atlantic. Previously he was an assistant editor at RealClearPolitics, a political reporter in Ohio, and a freelance journalist.
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