Out There

Sarah Palin for VP?!?

Posted in politics by Pete on September 1, 2008

A few people have asked me my thoughts on Palin. Here you go. There has been talk of a possible vice-presidential bid for several months, but always as an extreme long shot. Alaskans were completely shocked on Friday. She is popular here, although she has some very vocal detractors. So who is she? She was the starting point guard and captain on her high school basketball team that won state in the ’80s. Hey, enough for me, she has my vote (well, not really, but almost ; – )! She is a very populist, anti-establishment candidate who is universally disliked by the old guard of the republican party leadership and the oil industry in ak. Don Young has stated that he doesn’t speak with her (she killed his bridge to nowhere project and has spoken out against a culture of earmark dependency and talks about Alaskans paying our own way (gasp!)), and Stevens and her have had a prickly relationship because she called on him to give his side of things after his home was searched by the FBI (a summer or two ago?) and he continued to make no comment.

Several years ago she blew the whistle on the GOP party chairman for the state (Randy Ruedrich) because he was doing party and private business while on the clock for the state oil & gas commission (where she worked too). That guy ended up paying a big fine and resigned from the commission. He is still the head of the GOP in AK and reportedly hasn’t spoken to Palin since, which is pretty wild when you consider she had a long and eventually successful campaign for governor (as a republican) after all that happened. When she ran for Gov, she received ZERO $$ from the state republican party and no public support, and destroyed the incumbent (who finished 3rd) as well as the annointed successor in the primary. Her campaign staff was mostly friends and family members. Then she beat the former governor (democrat) and a wealthy, harvard-educated independent in the general election. She’s always been perceived as strong in character and personality and a little light on the issues. When she was running, it seemed every week was another bombshell from the FBI about someone else’s office being searched, or yet another confession or conviction related to taking bribes in exchange for votes for lower oil taxes. So her message of cleaning house and changing the culture of Juneau away from serving big oil to big oil paying a fair share to the state really ended up carrying a lot of votes. They had just increased the oil tax while she was running, but she argued it should have been an even bigger increase and because the speaker of the house and the senate chair were both on the take as well as several other legislators, they reopened it and increased the tax again. Which is why the state is currently swimming in cash, despite declining oil flow through the pipeline.

So she has stood up to big oil, extracting literally billions more $ in annual oil & gas taxes, and moving toward taking leases away from Exxon, which has been sitting on a huge gas field (Point Thomson) for several decades without moving to develop it as required in their lease. You have to understand that this is such an incredibly industry-friendly, pro-oil state, what she has done is really mind blowing. Her political detractors say she is killing the golden goose, biting the hand that feeds her, name your cliche, and running the state into the ground and that the oil companies will stop developing new prospects and pull up and leave, etc. She has said no to corruption and business as usual and has an air of invincibility about her, despite other candidates seeming to have better ideas on a lot of things in the election (I voted for the independent guy).

So yeah, I like her. But keep in mind that she is a republican in Alaska, which makes her a super-conservative nationally, and she has as much foreign policy experience as I do. I don’t think she is qualified to be president due to her inexperience. She may be better than 95% of Americans, but shouldn’t the candidate be the best of the best? I don’t know. I guess it depends on what you think the country needs. If you think it needs very independent, ethical, and strong reform, and you don’t care a whit for foreign relations, she is the candidate for you. I see it as a desperation move by McCain, high-risk and high-reward, which seems weird if he was really polling evenly with Obama. I have to admit that it took a lot of courage and willingness to think outside the box by McCain. I don’t know how much of a team they’ll be when it comes to policy making, and I don’t know McCain as well as I know Palin, but based on what I know they are 2 extremely independent politicians. People are drawn to Palin because she certainly does represent a change in style, and in Alaska at least she brought a lot of change in substance as well. She also comes across as squeaky-clean and not able to be bought, and she speaks openly of her faith. Her decision to keep her newest child, a baby with down’s syndrome born during her term as governor (another shocker noone on her staff even knew she was pregnant until 7 months into the pregnancy) was obviously very courageous and admirable.

Dad, as far as her husband being Yup’ik, I actually hadn’t heard that until recently. I think he is some fraction, maybe ½ or ¼ Yup’ik. He is a blue-collar “sloper” (oil field worker on the north slope, living there like on a 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off type of schedule). He is said to have a lot of say in her policy decisions as governor though, for whatever that is worth. I don’t know how much he identifies himself with Yup’ik culture, but I suspect he doesn’t, for the most part. He is mostly known in Alaska as a frequent champion of the “iron dog” snowmachine race that I think goes from Wasilla to Nome to Fairbanks (an absurd distance of around 2,000 miles). But he and the Palin family all go to the Bristol Bay (Yup’ik area) in the summer and fish commercially.

OK, that was way too much information. You asked! : – ) Keep in mind that I’m not an expert on this stuff, just a citizen who follows the news. I’m also not a reporter, so I’m not going for neutrality or both sides of the story, just speaking my mind. A few friends and family from the lower 48 wanted my perspective on Palin, so I gave it.

For a standard biography that is fairly balanced, see this story.

For a short snippet from Steve Haycox, master of Alaska History, go here.

And for a somewhat humorous take, try this.

And the ADN Newsreader’s compendium of links

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