Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Alaska Politics and Sarah Palin

Hi Everybody,

Since John McCain is pushing Governor Palin forward as the Margaret Thatcher of the North, let's take a look at what Sarah Palin's role in Alaska politics is like.

First of all, I've already posted a couple of times about how, because of the lack of significant state taxes and the dominance of the oil permanent fund and federal hand outs for state government revenue, Alaskan politicians don't face the same kinds of political constraints on fiscal issues that politicians in the rest of the country do.  This alone calls into question Palin's claim that she's got executive experience and has made "tough choices" and "protected tax payers" etc.  

Second, there is her record of being a politician who uses petty personal attacks as a political tool.  This isn't surprising.  Since your position on taxes and spending really isn't relevant to Alaskan politics as much as it is in a state with actual taxes, the best way to distinguish yourself from your opponents is with personal attacks and "culture" issues like abortion and gay marriage etc.  Palin is rather expert at this.  When she ran for Mayor of Tiny Town (aka Wasilla, AK), she savaged her opponent over cultural issues like these even though small town mayors have no control over cultural policies such as abortion.  Her opponent's yard signs were spray painted with "baby killer" for example.  Then there is the incident involving Lyda Green  the Republican President of the Alaska Senate (who is one of the leaders of a bipartisan coalition of Moderate Republicans and Democrats in that body) and a radio program on KWHL.  The host called Green, who is a cancer survivor, a "cancer" who was "jealous" of Sarah Palin.  He also made fun of Green's weight, called Green a "bitch" and questioned Green's parenting of her children.  All the while Palin laughed at the attacks.

But there's strong evidence Palin did condone Lester's name-calling. At the end of Lester making fun of Green as a mother, calling her a cancer, twice, and saying she has to go; after calling the senator a b----, making fun of her weight, and accusing Green of being jealous and hateful; after all of that, Lester ends the conversation offering to visit Palin.

How does Palin respond? "I'd be honored to have you."

Third, patronage and pork.  In a political environment where all you do is hand out cash from heaven (or oil companies), issues are less important.  So patronage and pork becomes a big deal.  Palin loves to play the pork game.  Both as a mayor and as a governor, Palin likes push the bounds of believability when it comes to earmark requests.  Her requests frequently amount to hundreds of dollars per resident she represents.  Compared to Obama who's total earmark requests amounted to $24 per resident of Illinois (one of the most populated states in the country with hundreds of miles of federal roads crossing it).  She's no stranger to the patronage game either.  After being elected mayor she fired the police chief for endorsing her opponent.  After being elected governor she fired Walt Monegan, the Public Safety director, for resisting her pressures to fire her estranged brother-in-law.  Then she appointed a replacement, Chuck Kopp (did she pick him because he was named "Kopp?"), who had to resign after just two weeks because he was hit with a sexual harassment scandal.  If you want to know why Palin hired Kopp in the first place, his resignation announcement may be a clue...

"While I have been portrayed in a negative light, my personal worth is found in the person of Jesus Christ, and not on the one who accepts or rejects me."

You'll notice that none of these criticisms have anything to do with either Sarah Palin as a woman, a mother or soon to be grandmother.  They have everything to do with her character and her experience and her record.

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