Monday, July 6, 2009

Good riddance

As most political junkies know by now, Sarah Palin has resigned as governor of Alaska.

Now, if only we could get rid of Sanford...

I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Why did she quit? The real reason, I mean. (Personally, I don't believe a word of her flaky-ass excuses.) From THE STATE:

But with all the thorny issues enveloping her in Alaska, Palin's quitting may be more about something simpler: cutting her losses.

Things weren't likely to improve, if she stayed in office. She faces a potential veto override of nearly $29 million in federal stimulus funds for energy efficiency programs, money she had rejected in fear that it could bind the state to federal building mandates.

"The drumbeat of adverse news coverage from Alaska would likely have continued and intensified had she remained governor," said Juneau economist and longtime Alaska political watcher Gregg Erickson. "It would have become an increasing liability to her national campaign."

A day after abruptly announcing she would soon give up her job as governor, Palin indicated on a social networking site that she would take on a larger, national role, citing a "higher calling" to unite the country along conservative lines. In the last few months, Palin had laid the groundwork for a possible presidential run, establishing a political action committee.

Erickson said that while Palin has received an adulatory reception from social conservatives in the Lower 48 states, in Alaska she's become a lightning rod for criticism and controversy.

It's easier to govern in Alaska when oil prices are high, but they are down from last year's historic highs and the budget is much tighter. And this year, Palin's signature project, getting a natural gas pipeline, moves into a critical phase: whether North Slope leaseholders will commit to shipping gas in the pipeline, which is still at least a decade away.

Palin has said stepping down as governor was about doing the right thing for Alaska - not wanting to be a lame duck governor if she knew she wasn't running for re-election in 2010. She also has hinted that her decision was a strategic move aimed at gearing up for a run for president.

But many political observers in Alaska say it was obvious her heart wasn't in the job.

Palin no longer delivered bagels to lawmakers. She limited her access to the media, and when she did hold news conferences, and she relied on notes and her commissioners for backup. One legislator quipped after her state of the state address in January that the only eye contact she made in the legislative chamber was with the television camera.

State Sen. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, says it's an unfair rap on Palin, one that was used by critics against her two predecessors.

"The detractors will always use that as a criticism because it's hard to evaluate. It's not surprising it's being used against the governor," he said. "It's an easy criticism to level, because you're never asked, 'Where's the proof?'"

Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who will be sworn into office July 26, told Fox News Sunday that Palin had spoken to him about "the concern she had for the cost of all the ethics investigations and the like, the way that that weighed on her with respect to her inability to just move forward Alaska's agenda on behalf of Alaskans in the current context of the environment."

Erickson, the Juneau political watcher, said the governor's resignation makes sense.

"Politically, I see it as a smart move. With the complete breakdown of her alliance with Democrats that marked her first two years as governor, she has no ability to move her policies forward in legislation. Indeed, her Alaska agenda, the gas pipeline in particular, is likely to fare much better with her out of the picture," Erickson said.

Palin has also faced growing criticism within the Republican party.

Last week, Vanity Fair magazine published a highly critical piece on Palin, with unnamed John McCain campaign aides questioning if Palin was ever really prepared for the presidency.
And it's a great piece.

Some highlights from the Vanity Fair article, written by Todd Purdum:

At least one savvy politician—Barack Obama—believed Palin would never have time to get up to speed. He told his aides that it had taken him four months to learn how to be a national candidate, and added, “I don’t care how talented she is, this is really a leap.” The paramount strategic goal in picking Palin was that the choice of a running mate had to ensure a successful convention and a competitive race right after; in that limited sense, the choice worked. But no serious vetting had been done before the selection (by either the McCain or the Obama team), and there was trouble in nailing down basic facts about Palin’s life. After she was picked, the campaign belatedly sent a dozen lawyers and researchers, led by a veteran Bush aide, Taylor Griffin, to Alaska, in a desperate race against the national reporters descending on the state. At one point, trying out a debating point that she believed showed she could empathize with uninsured Americans, Palin told McCain aides that she and Todd in the early years of their marriage had been unable to afford health insurance of any kind, and had gone without it until he got his union card and went to work for British Petroleum on the North Slope of Alaska. Checking with Todd Palin himself revealed that, no, they had had catastrophic coverage all along. She insisted that catastrophic insurance didn’t really count and need not be revealed. This sort of slipperiness—about both what the truth was and whether the truth even mattered—persisted on questions great and small. By late September, when the time came to coach Palin for her second major interview, this time with Katie Couric, there were severe tensions between Palin and the campaign.

By all accounts, Palin was either unwilling, or simply unable, to prepare. In the run-up to the Couric interview, Palin had become preoccupied with a far more parochial concern: answering a humdrum written questionnaire from her hometown newspaper, the Frontiersman. McCain aides saw it as easy stuff, the usual boilerplate, the work of 20 minutes or so, but Palin worried intently. At the same time, she grew concerned that her approval ratings back home in Alaska were sagging as she embraced the role of McCain’s bad cop. To keep her happy, the chief McCain strategist, Steve Schmidt, agreed to conduct a onetime poll of 300 Alaska voters. It would prove to Palin, Schmidt thought, that everything was all right.

Then came the near-total meltdown of the financial system and McCain’s much-derided decision to briefly “suspend” his campaign. Under the circumstances, and with severely limited resources, Schmidt and the McCain-campaign chairman, Rick Davis, scrapped the Alaska poll and urgently set out to survey voters’ views of the economy (and of McCain’s response to it) in competitive states. Palin was furious. She was convinced that Schmidt had lied to her, a belief she conveyed to anyone who would listen.

And she wanted to make her own concession speech:

Election Night brought what McCain aides saw as the final indignity. Palin decided she would make her own speech at the ticket’s farewell to the faithful, at the Arizona Biltmore, in Phoenix. When aides went to load McCain’s concession speech into the teleprompter, they found a concession speech for Palin—written by Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully, who had also been the principal drafter of her convention speech—already on the system. Schmidt and Salter told Palin that there was no tradition of Election Night speeches by running mates, and that she wouldn’t be giving one. Palin was insistent. “Are those John’s wishes?” she asked. They were, she was told. But Palin took the issue to McCain himself, raising it on the walk from his suite to the outdoor rally. Again the answer was no.
Purdum wisely notes that Alaska is its own thang, something the McCain campaign didn't fully understand:

The first thing McCain could have learned about Palin is what it means that she is from Alaska. More than 30 years ago, John McPhee wrote, “Alaska is a foreign country significantly populated with Americans. Its languages extend to English. Its nature is its own. Nothing seems so unexpected as the boxes marked ‘U.S. Mail.’” That description still fits. The state capital, Juneau, is 600 miles from the principal city, Anchorage, and is reachable only by air or sea. Alaskan politicians list the length of their residency in the state (if they were not born there) at the top of their biographies, and are careful to specify whether they like hunting, fishing, or both. There is little sense of government as an enduring institution: when the annual 90-day legislative session is over, the legislators pack up their offices, files, and computers, and take everything home. Alaska’s largest newspaper, the Anchorage Daily News, maintains no full-time bureau in Juneau to cover the statehouse. As in any resource-rich developing country with weak institutions and woeful oversight, corruption and official misconduct go easily unchecked. Scrutiny is not welcome, and Alaskans of every age and station, of every race and political stripe, unself-consciously refer to every other place on earth with a single word: Outside.

So, of all the puzzling things that Sarah Palin told the American public last fall, perhaps the most puzzling was this: “Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.”

Believe me, it is not.

But Sarah Palin herself is a microcosm of Alaska, or at least of the fastest-growing and politically crucial part of it, which stretches up the broad Matanuska-Susitna Valley, north of Anchorage, where she came of age and cut her political teeth in her now famous hometown, Wasilla. In the same way that Lyndon Johnson could only have come from Texas, or Bill Clinton from Arkansas, Palin and all that she is could only have come from Wasilla. It is a place of breathtaking scenery and virtually no zoning. The view along Wasilla’s main drag is of Chili’s, iHop, Home Depot, Target, and Arby’s, and yet the view from the Palins’ front yard, on Lake Lucille, recalls the Alpine splendor visible from Captain Von Trapp’s terrace in The Sound of Music. It is culturally conservative: the local newspaper recently published an article that asked, “Will the Antichrist be a Homosexual?” It is in this Alaska—where it is possible to be both a conservative Republican and a pothead, or a foursquare Democrat and a gun nut—that Sarah Palin learned everything she knows about politics, and about life.
Like they say, read the whole thing.

And BTW, Palin is now attempting to silence a BLOGGER, Shannyn Moore. (((Daisy reaches for shotgun--runs off to join newly-formed Blogger Militia))) We are behind you, Shannyn! HANDS OFF THE BLOGGERS.

As Matt Drudge would undoubtedly say: Developing...