First came news that Alaska governor Sarah Palin wouldn't run for re-election, confirmed by CNN around 3 pm ET. Minutes later, Alaska television station KTUU reported that Palin had actually announced she will resign her office at the end of the month.
In an angry, rambling press conference that will rival Gov. Mark Sanford's as a stunning example of a bizarre public meltdown, Palin basically blamed her decision on her national critics, who she said were blocking her agenda and costing Alaska taxpayers money.
"You are naïve if you don't see a full court press right now on the national level picking apart a good point guard," Palin said, a reference to her days as Sarah Barracuda, high school basketball star. What does a good point guard do? "She drives through a full court press protecting the ball, keeping her head up…and passing the ball so her team can win. I know when it's time to pass the ball for a win.
"I really don't want to disappoint anyone with this decision," Palin continued. "I cannot stand here as your governor and allow millions of dollars to go to waste. I don't know if my children are going to allow it either…This decision comes after a lot of prayer and deliberation." Palin said all of her children endorsed her decision, and she closed by complaining about people mocking her Down's Syndrome son Trig, with little Piper standing by her side.
"In the words of General MacArthur, we are not retreating, we are advancing in another direction," Palin said, as she turned the podium over to the apparently shocked Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell.
There was rolling hilarity and a total news vacuum on television for about 10 minutes after the news first broke. CNN's Rick Sanchez wondered aloud if Palin could be pregnant again – shocking Candy Crowley – before interviewing Frontiersman reporter Andrew Wellner, who says the press conference came as a total surprise to local reporters.
"She didn't take any questions, she said she could be more effective outside of government," Wellner said, reading his notes to Sanchez. Then CNN got tape of Palin's announcement.
This is very weird. We'll update when we get more information.
Update: Getting weirder. CNN is now running the entire speech; earlier, it only ran a clip from her resignation statement onward. It's crazy stuff. For the first 10 minutes or so, Palin rambled weirdly about all the good things she's done for Alaska, on energy and budget issues, sounding kind of like a Furby who memorized a lot of information but has no idea how to repeat it in a human-like way. The tone and inflection were completely off.
Then she began her list of grievances with national critics.
"Over the last nine months I've been the subject of all sorts of frivolous accusations...The state has wasted millions of your dollars" investigating those accusations, Palin complained, blaming "the politics of personal destruction." Suzanne Malveaux is desperately asking Candy Crowley to "make sense" of this. Crowley's talented, but she's not up to this task. Sense will be made only when we get the back story.
Update II: According to Think Progress, the spectacularly wrong Palin supporter Bill Kristol phoned into Fox News to say: “If I had to guess, we just saw the opening statement of the 2012 campaign.” Meanwhile, on MSNBC Andrea Mitchell says she's hearing from GOP sources Palin is out of politics "for good." Who do you believe?
And here's the Palin speech video: