There are several possible scenarios as to what this means for her future. Among the possibilities are that nobody (not even Palin) quite knows what her plans are, so take all of these theories with a grain of salt.
Possibility #1) The scandal theory
This was my initial thought. Could something be on the horizon that will discredit Palin? She is, after all, a major political target for a lot of people -- in Alaska and on a national level. Further, she is already dealing with costly and politically damaging ethics violations stemming back years. Speculation is rampant on the web, with Max Blumenthal and the Huffington Post, reporting on rumors that a new "shoe is about to drop."
Blumenthal , writing for the Daily Beast, writes:
Just months before Palin left city hall to campaign for governor, she
awarded a contract to SBS to help build the $13 million Wasilla Sports Complex.
The most expensive building project in Wasilla history, the complex cost the
city an additional $1.3 million in legal fees and threw it into severe long-term
debt. For SBS, however, the bloated and bungled project was a cash cow.
Prior to her sudden announcement, Palin gave every indication that she intended to
complete her tenure as governor.
On July 1, Palin met with Alaska Senator Mark Begich to discuss funding for the missile-defense systems that would be stationed in Alaska. In May, Palin initiated a plan to circumvent the state legislature by introducing a ballot measure that would ban minors from receiving abortions without parental consent. She vowed
to be the first to sign the measure event though it would not be certified until
Possibility #2) The 'you are not going to have Sarah Palin to kick around anymore' theory
One of the most fascinating and contemptible US politicians ever, Richard Nixon, following a disappointing election loss in 1962, and intense media scrutiny, gave his own rambling speech, announcing he was finished with politics.
Andrea Kramer of NBC is reporting that those close to Palin say she is done. After the mockery and hilarity of the 2008 campaign, this could be plausible.
Possibility 3#) The strategy for a presidential run theory
This scenario holds that for several reasons, this decision could help Palin in her quest for a presidential run in 2012. William Kristol, who it should be noted loves Sarah Palin and has a history of being wrong about everything, touts this possibility in today's New York Times.
“Everybody I’ve talked to thinks it’s a little crazy,” Mr. Kristol said. “But
maybe not. What is she going to accomplish in the next year as governor? Every
time she left the state she got criticized for neglecting her
“She’ll take a little hit for leaving the job early, no question
about it,” he said. “But if she writes this book and gives speeches and travels
the country and educates herself on some issues, that’s good.”
I am leaning toward number 3, though as Karl Rove said this morning on Fox News, it is "odd" and "risky." But at this point, it is anybody's guess. Whatever the case may be, it will sure make for great political theatre. Palin circa 2008 was a phenomonal story -- recall these interesting pieces by Max Blumenthal, Sam Harris and Vanity Fair. Palin circa 2009-12 could prove to be just as facinating.
One thing that is certain: there is no way in hell she will be President in 2012. No chance.
UPDATE: 10:16 a.m.;
There are many conflicting reports here. One article for Huff Post says Palin wants an "expanded" role in the national Republican Party. Other articles, including this one, say she is "fed up" and "out of politics, period."
One thing to consider, even if Palin wants out of the game, she can always change her mind. Recall that Nixon retired in 62 after losing a gubernatorial race; six years later he would become president.