Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska who gained her spot on the Republican presidential ticket last year by projecting herself as a maverick and a political outsider, stepped beyond the circle of power last night announcing that she will quit her position by the end of this month.
Dropping the kind of bombshell that she would relish more than anyone else on the American political landscape, Ms Palin stood before the cameras on the lawn of her home in Wasilla, Alaska, to say that she had had enough as chief executive of the enormous, energy-rich state despite having another 18 months left to run in office.
It left the political classes in Washington scratching their heads on the eve of the Fourth of July holiday as to her motivation in taking such a dramatic and flaky step. First to come to many of their minds: that she is already manoeuvring for a run at the White House in 2012.
Some will take it as the move of a woman fed up by attacks on her character that, if anything, have picked up again eight months after her doomed partnership with the 2008 Republican nominee John McCain. The pairing of her and McCain has widely been judged a disaster. "I have never believed that I or anyone else... need a title to make a difference," she said, in a long and often disjointed address that appeared to be off the cuff. "I am not going to put Alaskans through having a lame-duck governor in office."
She added that she would not be running for re-election either. "Only dead fish go with the flow," the Governor continued in an effort to explain to reporters why she was quitting. Her move means that the office of the governor will pass automatically to the state's Lieutenant Governor, Sean Parnell.
"It is my duty to always protect our great state," Ms Palin said in a separate, pre-prepared statement released by her office.
"With that in mind, my family and I determined that it is best to make a difference this summer, and I am willing to change things, so that this administration, with its positive agenda, its accomplishments, and its successful road to an incredible future, can continue without interruption and with great administrative and legislative success."
She told watching Americans that she is ready to campaign alongside other Republicans seeking office in the months ahead, hinting that she is not prepared to leave the political arena for good.
Whether quitting now can help her in a future run for the White House is debatable, though. She would, after all, be putting herself forward as a not-quite-one-term governor and a vice-presidential nominee on a failed ticket.
One other option may be to seek a US Senate seat for Alaska. However, it hardly seems likely that the Republican establishment will be delighted by behaviour that can only look odd, if not downright eccentric.
"This doesn't make sense, it won't make any sense to anyone and I don't think it is going to help her in any shape or form," said party stalwart and CNN commentator Ed Rollins. "We are not a party of quitters. The story about being a lame duck is idiotic," he added.
Mrs Palin said she would leave office on 26 July. Her statement continued: "Once I decided not to run for re-election, I also felt that to embrace the conventional lame-duck status in this particular climate would just be another dose of politics as usual, something I campaigned against and will always oppose."Reuse content