It seems like only days ago--and, indeed, it was--that the folks close to Sarah Palin were downplaying her Troopergate scandal back home as a minor conflict that would be amicably resolved. Palin had agreed to cooperate fully with a probe being conducted by the state legislature, and things were proceeding smoothly enough that it appeared subpoenas wouldn't even be issued. The whole issue was being framed less as a scandal than as a misunderstanding everyone wanted to get to the bottom of.

Not any more. Palin lawyered up a couple of days ago, hiring local attorney Thomas Van Flein, and she has abruptly shifted to a far more combative mode. First, Van Flein suggested that Palin might not sit down with investigators for a planned deposition later this month after all, citing the "bad timing" of the investigation. (Given that the investigation preceded her vice presidential nomination, it would seem reasonable to suggest the latter was the "bad timing.") Now, in a move worthy of the political big leagues, Palin has filed an ethics complaint against herself with a state personnel board whose three members she appointed, and demanded that it handle the issue exclusively and the legislature's independent investigation--unanimously authorized by a bipartisan panel--be shut down.

I'm skeptical that this new, aggressive posture will serve Palin well: It ramps up the heat on the story and makes Palin look more like a typical pol under investigation and less like someone with minor issues to resolve back home. But evidently those around Palin--perhaps on the McCain campaign staff?--have now concluded that there is enough there there to make stonewalling preferable to downplaying. Either that or Palin felt that resisting legislative inquiries is an area where she needed to bone up if she was going to serve in a GOP administration.

--Christopher Orr