Who Resigns and Who Doesn't (Updated)

I've long been fascinated by the question of why certain politicians don't resign from office even when it's clear to all around ...
by | July 29, 2009

Spitzer I've long been fascinated by the question of why certain politicians don't resign from office even when it's clear to all around them that they're finished. Although I editorialized against Mark Sanford's resignation, for instance, it still puzzled me when he dug in his heels even as he became more isolated in the days that followed.

My thought in his case is simple. He has nowhere else to go.

The same logic might have applied to Rod Blagojevich. Look at it from their point of view. They were governors of their states and, more than that, were talked about as if the sky had no limits for them. I never bought the idea that Sanford could really become president, but certainly the Great Mentioner kept bringing him up in regards to 2012. Blagojevich was even more questionable on this score, but certainly he had ambitions to keep climbing.

But suddenly, they finally and truly had nowhere else to go, professionally. And so they dug in.

Compare this with the politicians who do resign. No one is yet quite sure why Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin packed it in this past weekend. All the speculation swirling around her, however, posited that she had her sights on more favorable opportunities. If not a run for president, then a talk show or a book deal.

And Memphis Mayor W.W. Herenton, who stepped down Thursday after 18 years in the job, is going into business with his son and has been hiring staff for a planned congressional run next year. (I was recently in Memphis and all the talk was about whether Herenton, who has long floated possible exit strategies and has postponed this resignation once, would really go. But while it's fun to gossip about such things, I'm told by people who should know that he really will leave.)

So, if your once promising career turns to ashes through every fault of your own, you might just dig in your heels and stick around until they force you to leave. If you feel like you have greater things awaiting you, however, you might not wait to take a powder, even before your term of office has expired.

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