Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Imaginary Reagans & Political Realities: My Quarrel with Larry

NOTE: WHAT A DAY! THIS IS ONE OF TWO COLUMNS FOR TUESDAY, JULY 31. A HEARTY WELCOME TO VISITORS TODAY, THE LAST 10 OF WHOM (AT 1 P.M. EDT) HAVE BEEN FROM: Istanbul, Turkey; Cagnes-sur-Mer, France; Dallas, TX; Manchester, NH; Eagle River, AK; Pittsburgh, PA; Sough, UK; Torino, Italy; Rome, Italy; and Waianae, Hawaii. Talk about an international flavor! (I'm located in Ambridge, PA, 15 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.)

Thanks very much to Gop44 (D. R.) from Green Bay for joining the "4 Palin" movement. Along with Kerry and OpionatedCatholic, he joins the Team Huckabee advocates who are also supporting Sarah. His blog is at: http://themaritimesentry.blogspot.com/

I sent the following to several dozen people today and, happily, some of them are responding, curious about a truly remarkable woman, Gov. Sarah Palin:

I'd like to invite you to support Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's candidacy for Vice-President on the Republican Ticket. Sarah is an absolutely remarkable elected official, the nation's most popular state official.

I urge you to read Fred's laudatory piece about Sarah in The Weekly Standard, available by clicking on the link in the blogroll. He says the following:

"The wipeout in the 2006 election left Republicans in such a state of dejection that they've overlooked the one shining victory in which a Republican star was born. The triumph came in Alaska where Sarah Palin, a politician of eye-popping integrity, was elected governor. She is now the most popular governor in America, with an approval rating in the 90s, and probably the most popular public official in any state.

Her rise is a great (and rare) story of how adherence to principle-especially to transparency and accountability in government-can produce political success. And by the way, Palin is a conservative who only last month vetoed 13 percent of the state's proposed budget for capital projects. The cuts, the Anchorage Daily News said, "may be the biggest single-year line-item veto total in state history."

Here's what I recently wrote about Sarah on my blog: Campaign2008VictoryA (reachable at http://camp2008victorya.blogspot.com/

"If the Democrats had a Sarah Palin -- which they don't -- she'd be up on stage battling it out with Hillary, Barack, and John. When the Democrats have someone who's highly electable, they put him or her out there in front of the nation -- as they did at the convention with Obama. We Republicans have a lot to learn when it comes to highlighting candidates like Sarah (and Michael Steele and J. C. Watts)."

The mother of four, Sarah is ardently pro-life.

Frankly, if we Republicans are to win in 2008, we have to present candidates -- plural -- who are appealing, dynamic, and diverse. Right now, we're way behind in fundraising and marginally behind in national polls. We won't overcome these deficits by pursuing "business as usual." We need to put our very best people forward.

If you want to learn more about Sarah -- or, to join the number of bloggers and others who support her candidacy for V-P-- please let me know either by e-mail (TalkTop65@aol.com) or by leaving a comment on my site.

Today at that site I've had many visitors from the U.S., but also people from the UK, Denmark, the French Alps, Italy, and Turkey. I guess our movement is becoming worldwide.

Thanks for your interest!

Stephen R. Maloney
Ambridge, PA
National Coordinator, Palin for V-P

P.S. In addition to the Barnes piece, other recent articles about Sarah by important conservatives include Dimitri Vassilaros' Palin is GOP's beacon - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Tom Koenniger's piece at: http://palintology.com/. (You can find the links on the blogroll.)

Imaginary Reagans and Political Realities: My Quarrel with Larry

In my conversations with Mike Huckabee supporters yesterday, I ended up blasting one of them: Larry, who’s present in the comments on yesterday’s piece (and with whom I exchanged several e-mails). Larry believes the nation is being manipulated by the media and the big-money boys into choosing a Republican candidate who’s “not a real conservative,” etc., etc.

I told him his views are paranoid and ultimately destructive of the Party and the nation. In other words, I deviated from my usual (and ultimately unsustainable) role as Mr. Nice Guy.

Larry looks back nostalgically to Ronald Reagan and essentially demands the system produce a candidate like him. I reminded him that Reagan (twice-married) was a proponent of amnesty (the real kind, not the rhetorical type used as a weapon by the anti-Hispanic crew); was pro-choice as governor of California; was an advocate of women’s rights (Sandra Day O’Connor); was friendly with a bunch of gay people in Hollywood; and was the generator of huge financial deficits.

Not exactly a doctrinaire right-winger. In today’s climate, Reagn would be denounced by the “base” as a repulsive RINO. Presumably, he’d get the same treatment as John McCain.

For obvious reasons, an imaginary Reagan is much more palatable to the famed “base” than the real one.

The Republican nominee in 2008 will be the one who wins the primaries. No candidate of any viability (and some with no viability) in either Party is being blocked from participation in the debates. Each candidate is free to raise money and solicit votes, which they’re all doing.

Most American voters are moderates – not strong conservatives or strong liberals. Polls show that Democrats – up to 90% of them – are happy with the candidates they’re offered, all of whom are staunch liberals. Those candidates, from Senators Clinton and Obama to Kucinich and Gravel, offer the usual bagful of goodies (“free health care!”). They offer no plan for conducting a successful WOT.

The polls show that roughly 25% of Republicans currently aren’t happy with the announced candidates. In part, that may reflect the “revenge” of the legendary base. To me, it’s somewhat mystifying – and perhaps a sign of the immaturity of some Republican voters.

My correspondent Larry favors Mike Huckabee and suggests that if he doesn’t get the nomination it will be the result of manipulation by some dark force (the media?). Huckabee seems to be an exemplary man, but he has a hard time raising money. (He raised less than three-quarters-of-a-million dollars in the second fiscal quarter, compared to Giuliani’s $17-million-plus and Obama’s $32-million-plus.)

Without a lot of money, a candidate can’t run TV ads in big states (New York, California, Florida, and Illinois) necessary to win the mega-primaries to be held on January 29 (FL) and Feb. 5 (just about everywhere else).

States like Iowa, New Hampshire, and (to a degree) South Carolina aren’t going to count as much in 2008 as they did previously. (The MSM hasn’t discovered this yet.)

Florida has many more electoral votes than all the other early states combined. Candidates like Clinton, Obama, Giuliani, and Romney are filling up their piggybanks with tens of millions of dollars to advertise in the big states.

The irony with someone like Larry is that he’s a major critic of McCain-Feingold, admittedly a very imperfect piece of legislation. However, one of its purposes was to make it possible for someone like Mike Huckabee to compete. McCain-Feingold didn’t achieve that, but its goal certainly wasn’t ignoble.

With the current primary set-up, no candidate from a small state – such as Arkansas – can compete. People like Larry assert – wrongly – that there’s no constitutionally permissible way to change this situation. Thus, we could end up with a presidential race with three nominees (if Bloomberg gets in) from New York State. Presumably, next time around, it will be California’s turn (Schwarzenegger, Pelosi, and Bill Gates?).

As I said in a previous column, my questions to the Republican candidates, especially Giuliani, McCain, and Huckabee are these: what are you going to do to rebuild the Republican Party? Especially, what are you going to do to repair relations with Blacks, Hispanics, women professionals (teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc.), and younger people? If the candidates don’t have good answers to those critical questions, voters should ignore them.

Candidates who appeal only to the conservative “base” risk losing everything – with the exceptions perhaps of Utah, Idaho, Alabama, and Mississippi. That would result in a Senate with perhaps 60-plus Democrats and a House with perhaps 290-plus Democrats. We might end up looking back at 2006 as a relatively good year for Republicans.

So, that’s why I became so impatient with Larry. Holding your breath until you turn blue – or until you detect the Second Coming of the Gipper – is not a responsible approach. In fact, it’s the height of irresponsibility, a political philosophy that’s worthy of a two-year-old.

Sarah Palin & the Draft Sarah Movement

Here's my response to a very talented graphic artist (a Huckabee backer) about what the "Draft Palin" Movement is up to and my role in it. I did some "trolling" among Huckabee supporters, and it was an exhilarating experience. Mike should be proud of his bloggers.

Hi Jered:

No one in the Draft Palin movement is paid or reimbursed in any way. One person in our group (an Alaskan) was involved in Mrs. Palin's gubernatorial campaign.

Sarah has done nothing to discourage the Draft Movement, but even if she did, we'd probably continue as is. (We're stubborn!)

The best way to learn more about Sarah Palin is to read the Fred Barnes (The Weekly Standard) and Dimitri Vassilaros (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) articles (both linked on my blog), along with the Wikipedia piece on Sarah. Wik is not always a great source for learning about a candidate, but in this case the article is a good one. Sarah's life truly is an open book. In her closet, you'll find only clothes -- no skeletons.

The reason for her "running" (right now, she's more "standing back and watching" than "running") for V-P is that it's a critical position -- and one Republcans have not done a good job with over the years. (Nixon ended up becoming President, then getting impeached and resigning; Agnew resigned because of corruption; others (Dan Quayle) were not exactly great credits to the position. Still others (Cheney, Henry Cabot Lodge, Bill Miller, Jack Kemp) had no political future.

Somehow, I think people like you and me could have done a better job choosing the candidates.

Many of us believe that one candidate on his own cannot beat Hillary Clinton. Her two huge victories in New York state, a much more diverse place than most Americans think, can't be discounted. It will take a dynamic and diverse team to defeat Mrs. Clinton.

We see Sarah as an absolutely remarkable woman, the most popular and effective elected official in any state. If the Democrats had anyone like her -- and they don't -- she'd be up there on stage with Senators Clinton and Obama.

In contrast, there's a Republican tradition -- an unfortunate one that favors old, white males for high office -- that works against someone like Sarah. (I'm an older white male, so I can say such an outrageous thing and get away with it.) We want to overcome that bad tradition.

No one in the Palin Movement wants to "make money" off it -- or pursue some sort of ego trip. If Sarah makes it to DC, which I believe she will, I'd be delighted to assist in any way I could, but I'm not looking to get anything special out of this effort. When she's selected as the V-P nominee, we will be volunteers in the combined effort.

We believe strongly that Sarah will become the first female vice president. We also believe that by 2016 or so, she will make a terrific candidate for President -- if the Republican Party and its presidential candidate make sound assessments of her potential and electability.

In a state synonymous with political corruption, Alaska, Sarah has earned a reputation for total honesty, candor, and selflessness. As I've said of her before, she is fresh and everyone else is tired.

I hope you'll join us in this effort!

You can find a great deal of additional information about Sarah on my blog columns and in the links. Go to: http://camp2008victorya.blogspot.com/.

Stephen R. Maloney
Ambridge, PA

P.S. This past Saturday, I was on Political Pistachio radio speaking about Sarah's candidacy. It's available on archive at: http://politicalpistachio.blogspot.com/.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Do Republicans Want to Win National Elections?

Welcome to another Palin fan, OpinionatedCatholic, whose blog is listed on the roll. He's also a LSU Tiger fan and has great insight into FL politics. Welcome.

Mike Huckabee, "I'm a conservative, but I'm not mad at everybody over it."

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you." C. S. Lewis (from ThePinkFlamingo blog)

Many years ago, I used to go to meetings of a group called The Philadelphia Society -- which met not in Philly, but in Chicago. The members included a variety of conservatives -- ranging from social traditionalists (like me) to economic and social libertarians.

I was amazed by the libertarians. Many of them wanted to do things like privatize fire and police departments, as well as correctional institutions and public parks -- ideas that may make some economic sense. Others wanted to decriminalize drugs and repeal laws against pornography.

I'd ask such people how they would ever sell such views to the American public. In other words, how could candidates running on such programs ever get elected? They'd look at me as if I were from another planet.

It soon became clear they weren't interested in policy proposals that would win votes. Instead, they were committed to ideological consistency and to keeping government entirely out of people's lives. They had no interest in appealing to ordinary voters -- most of whom are moderates -- whom they seemingly saw as The Great Unwashed.

Nowadays, I sometimes feel the same way when I read the comments on Townhall or Red State. On those sites, people who claim to be conservatives spend most of their time attacking elected officials who are, well, conservatives, such as George Bush, Jon Kyl, and John McCain. They're much more interested in preserving ideological consistency than in winning elections. Most ominously, they're willing to offend any group, no matter how large and important, that doesn't agree with their political "philosophy."

One concept I've lived by says: "Politics is the art of the possible." I'd modify it to add the following: "Politics is the art of the (ideologically) imperfect." Also, "Politics depends for its success on compromise." It does so because any politics worthy of the name demands building coalitions of diverse people that add up to electoral majorities.

Let's get very specific about what we Republicans -- a group consisting of conservatives and moderates -- need to do to win elections. If we don't win at least some of them, then we'll have no real say on issues like immigration, the appointment of Supreme Court justices, and the War on Terror.

Right now, we Republicans have a problem getting votes from many large groups, including: Blacks (40 million in the U.S.), Hispanics (45 million legal ones in the U.S.), women professionals (teachers, journalists, doctors, lawyers, businesswomen), and young people 18-30 (who voted Democratic in 2006 by 61% to 39%). Gee, why did we lose the 2006 election so badly?

In the 2008 election, it looks as if we'll get less of the important Hispanic vote -- perhaps a lot less -- than we did in 2004 and 2006, and that's downright ominous. On CNN's "Wolf Blitzer" program yesterday (Sunday), Ken Blackwell, a Black conservative who ran for governor of Ohio, discussed Republicans and the Black vote.

Blackwell, a fine man, was very candid in his remarks. He said it now appeared the Republican candidate for President in 2008 would get about 8% of the Black vote. Of course, that makes it very difficult to win states like California, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois.

Along with another guest, the head of the National Urban League, Blackwell noted that only one Republican candidate -- Mike Huckabee -- has appeared at the recent Urban League conference. All had been invited.

Ken Blackwell suggested that the Republican candidates had largely written off the Black vote. He added that the Party's main concern was "to stop the bleeding" with the Hispanic vote. The main reason that vote is bleeding away is the perception that Republicans are anti-Hispanic, one of the sad results of the recent immigration debacle.

Republican congressman Bobby Inglis of South Carolina spoke some months ago about a racial issue confronting Republicans. He said that the Party was in danger of becoming a Caucasian people's group, mainly male. That's in fact happening, and it's an electoral disaster in the making.

Any Republican candidate for President who isn't talking regularly -- and compellingly -- about what he'll do to attract new voters, including Blacks, female professionals, and Hispanics, is just blowing smoke. He would be setting himself up to lose not only the states I've mentioned, but also Florida, where the Hispanic vote is essential to Republicans.

Giuliani is talking about it some and so is McCain, and more power to them. But where are the others?

I frankly have no interest in ANY candidate -- no matter how much he wants to preserve life or secure our borders -- IF he insists on putting himself in a position to be a sure loser.

The winner gets to appoint the Supreme Court justices. The loser gets to complain about them.

One reason I support Sarah Palin so strongly is that she's a candidate who can gain approval from people who disagree with her on one or more significant issues. A person like that is known as a leader.

The most recent poll from Alaska shows that only 5% of the residents of that state disapprove of Sarah's leadership. She's a healer, not a divider or polarizer, and this is a country desperately in need of healing.

Republican candidates for president and vice-president need to stand up and face political reality. Merely pandering to a tiny conservative base is not enough to make the Party a real player in national elections.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Conservatives in Denial About Women, "Amnesty," and Hillary Clinton

Coming Attractions: I'd like to write this week -- perhaps on Monday -- about what politics can accomplish and what it can't. We Republicans have a problem getting votes from many large groups, including: Blacks (40 million in the U.S.), Hispanics (45 million legal ones in the U.S.), women professionals (teachers, journalists, doctors, lawyers, businesswomen), and young people 18-30 (who voted Democratic in 2006 by 61% to 39%). Gee, why did we lose the 2006 election so badly? In the 2008 election, it looks as if we'll get less of the important Hispanic vote -- perhaps a lot less -- than we did in 2004 and 2006, and that's downright ominous.

Any Republican candidate for President who isn't talking regularly about what he'll do to turn this situation around is just blowing smoke. Giuliani is talking about it some and so is McCain, and more power to them. But where are the others? I frankly don't care for any candidate -- no matter how much he wants to preserve life or secure our borders -- IF he looks like a sure loser. The winner gets to appoint the Supreme Court justices. The loser gets to complain.

One reason I support Sarah Palin so strongly is that she's a candidate who can gain approval from people who disagree with her on one or more significant issues. A person like that is known as a leader. The most recent poll from Alaska shows that only 5% of the residents of that state disapprove of Sarah's leadership. She is a healer, not a divider or polarizer, and this is a country desperately in need of healing.

Note: Anyone interested in a vigorous discussion of Sarah Palin, pro (mostly) and con (some) for vice-president can find it at: http://race42008.com/2007/05/30/veep-watch-gov-sarah-palin-sports-90-approval-rating/. Race42008.com is a good site for political junkies (like me). The linked section describes how rare it is to defeat an incumbent governor in a primary -- something Sarah did. It also points out that only 5% of Alaskans, an amazingly small number, disapprove of the job she's doing as governor.

I've been a conservative writer and activist for approximately 40 years, and I've never been more exasperated by SOME of my fellow conservatives. Frankly, there are too many people on the Right who in full-scale denial about three issues: (1) the viability of female candidates seeking federal offices, including the presidency; (2) the importance of the "amnesty" issue to voters; and (3) the electability of Hillary Clinton.

Some conservatives -- especially women with evangelical Christian backgrounds -- are very uncomfortable with the idea of a woman running for President or Vice-President. They ask if she shouldn't be home taking care of her husband and children. Shouldn't men, they speculate, who serve as the spiritual heads of households also serve as heads of the nation?

The American people generally have an answer to those questions, and it's a resounding NO! The Gallup Poll indicates that 92% of adult citizens say they could vote for a female for President. (In addition, 86% say they could vote for a Black running for the nation's highest office.)

Thus, if Republican conservatives have a problem with females running for President, then they must get over it. Right now, their views work only against Republicans -- people like Sarah Palin -- and not Democrats like Hillary Clinton.

As a Scots writer (Ian Jack) puts it, "Things are as they are." In other words, nostalgia for past realities doesn't modify one bit the current situation.

Today, American women run for high offices, and with increasing frequency, they win. If you personally don't like this fact, you're living in either the wrong century or country.

Conservatives also have illusions about immigration -- and about the role of Hispanics in American society. Partly as a result of the defeat of GWB's immigration proposals, conservatives believe in "the myth of the conservative base."

In fact, that base is a relatively small part of the electorate -- something we learned rather clearly in the last election, when Republican conservatives got skunked. In my own state of Pennsylvania, conservative Republican Rick Santorum emphasized the need for border security and the avoidance of "amnesty." His opponent, liberal Bob Casey was largely silent on the subject -- and ended up voting for the immigration legislation.

How did the election go? Casey got 59% and Santorum, the two-term incumbent, got 41%. Rick's "solid" position on immigration basically got him nothing. The public ignored the issue of "amnesty."

How does the public -- as opposed to the conservative "base" -- feel about immigration? The Opinion Research Council, a first-class polling outfit, did a survey on the subject just prior to the Senate vote. It found out that 30% of the people favored the Bush proposal. On the other hand, 47% of the people opposed the bill, while the rest admitted they didn't know enough to have a position.

The 47% that disliked the legislation consisted of two segments -- approximately two-thirds thought the legislation was not tough on "illegals," while one-third believed it was too tough!

In other word, most of the people who had opinions on the subject favored immigration reform. About one-in-six Americans backed legislation that would be kinder and gentler than Bush's approach to immigrants. A good chunk of them may have been among the nation's 45 million LEGAL Hispanics.

Where was the Republican "base" in all this? They consisted of 31% (two-thirds of the 47% that disliked the Bush proposal) that wanted more border security and stronger enforcement of immigration laws. The people -- 20%-plus -- who hadn't formed an opinion on the proposed legislation essentially don't count.

So, why isn't President Bush vigorously enforcing border security? The short answer is that President Bush can count. He knows something many conservatives don't: that 31% of Americans doesn't add up to a mandate.

A fired up 31% -- Karl Rove's beloved base -- can derail proposed legislation. However, 31% is not anywhere near the 50%-plus it takes to win elections.

A third area in which conservatives are in denial deals with their belief that Hillary Clinton is unelectable. In fact, most pundits believe that Mrs. Clinton will be the next President of the United States. They may well be right, as Salena Zito implies in her fine article today (Sunday) that appears both in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and in Townhall.

To find the Zito article go to: http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/columnists/zito/

She calls the piece "Hillary, Unpreconceived." When you hit on the link above, you'll also notice a companion piece called "Something About Hillary."

Salena notes that some observers say Hillary has a problem with two groups: (1) women, and (2) progressive bloggers, the so-called "netroots." Both those supposed problems are imaginary.

"'. . . You can get all kinds of juicy quotes from the Hillary haters,' said Susan Hansen, a professor of political science and women's studies at the University of Pittsburgh. 'But if you look at the raw data of how people voted in 2000 and 2006 in the New York (U.S.) Senate elections, you will see that she did not have a woman-problem. Quite the opposite.'"

Salena adds, "The importance of progressive bloggers has increased geometrically. And despite the preconception that they will not support her [Hillary], it turns out they are." She cites the left-wing "Daily Kos" as an example.

Conservative denial of the obvious -- on female candidates, on immigration, and on Hillary -- seems to be spelling an electoral defeat in 2008. Politics is not about the purity of one's ideology. Rather, it's about winning and losing.

Those who in denial about reality set themselves up to learn the true meaning of "the agony of defeat."

Stephen R. Maloney
Ambridge, PA

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Steve (& Sarah?!) on Political Pistachio Saturday


Note: I got the following message from a Sarah supporter who blogs at: http://hillaryneedsavacation.blogspot.com/, which I urge you to visit:

"OUTSTANDING STEVE...Thank you for the fine info.Especially the impressive Political Pistachio. Ms. Palin is mighty fine and thanks for all your excellent efforts."

Today (Saturday, July 28) on Political Pistachio Radio Douglas Gibbs is going to TRY to get Gov. Sarah Palin on the show. Below this paragraph you can find Doug's message on how to reach Political Pistachio. From 7-8 (ET), I'll be discussing Sarah as a potential candidate for V-P on the Republican ticket and related topics . Douglas' guest last week was former VA governor (and, until recently, presidential candidate) Jim Gilmore.

(Doug's directions to access the show follow);

Political Pistachio can be accessed live at www.blogtalkradio.com/politicalpistachio, then clicking over to the the segments tab. The special link they assigned this particular broadcast for now is: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/hostpage.aspx?show_id=38313

The archived episode may be accessed later on the BlogTalk Radio site, or will play automatically for a week when folks visit www.politicalpistachio.com. [In other words, if you miss the show on Saturday, you can still listen to it later.]

Thank you for the recommendations for future guests. I will consider them. However, I am currently booked through the end of September with guests.

[Note from Steve: I recommended several people for future appearances, including Trish from palintology.com/, Adam from palinforvp.blogspot.com/, Diana Irey from irey.com/, and Melissa Hart, who will run from Congress in the district where I live (PA's 4th). I'm also recommending Mike Huckabee, a presidential candidate, and Michael Steele, former Lt. Gov. of MD. (Never accuse me of not making enough recommendations!)]

The number to call into the show is (646) 652-2940. Call in at 4pm Pacific Time/7pm Eastern Time. You will hear my partial tune and introduction, then I will cue you on.

[Note from Steve: Anyone who wants to learn more about Sarah Palin should read Fred Barnes's fine Weekly Standard article ("The Most Popular Governor") on her, available on my blogroll at: http://camp2008victorya.blogspot.com/.

[Other valuable information on Sarah is available at: http://palintology.com (from Alaska) and http://palinforvp.blogspot.com (from Colorado), Sanity102 (Texas) at http://outsideofthebox.townhall.com/ ,as well as many additional sites with links on my blogroll. My blog also has a link to the Governor's website in Alaska.]

steve maloney

At http://palintology.com/, you'll find a July 25, 2007 posting on "More Palin talk from Outsiders"

It features an essay by TOM KOENNINGER editor emeritus of The Columbian.

Tom writes brilliantly about Alaska and Gov. Sarah. For example, he says the following about the state:

"This 49th state occupies one-fifth the land mass of the United States. Alaska is larger than Texas, California and Montana combined. It measures 2,404 miles east to west and 1,420 miles north to south.

But Alaska has comparatively few people, about 700,000.Anchorage, nearly equidistant from Tokyo, New York and London, has one of the nation’s busiest airports.

Alaska is truly the last frontier, with a wealth of natural resources, from oil at Prudhoe Bay and natural gas deposits, to fish in the Bering Sea. Gold is still mined near Nome, and the forests yield an abundance of lumber."

Regarding Alaska's remarkable governor, Tom says:

"She trimmed $237 million out of the proposed $1.8 billion capital budget, and approved a $6.6 billion operating budget for the state. It’s the highest operating budget in state history.

Palin, a Republican, is Alaska’s first female governor and the youngest governor in state history. She was 42 when sworn into office in January.Of her whacks at the capital budget, she said she was trying to rein in governmental growth and “live within our means.”

Like Washington’s Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire, Palin is a strong supporter of education. She advocates 'creating a strong economy with good jobs' and 'an education system that is world-class.'

While some protested the governor’s budget cuts, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner said she 'struck a blow for a more open and accountable system of funding projects.'

Palin, by the way, has an approval-rating percentage in the 90s - the highest in the country. Maybe the fact that she was trained as a journalist gave her an especially good start."


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bulletin: Video of Sarah in Kuwait

Bulletin on top of Bulletins: The reference in the JuneauEmpire story (see below) to Sarah making a secret trip "north of Kuwait" must be a reference to her visiting troops in Iraq. I'll try to stay on top of this important story. The following is a message and a video link from Trish in Alaska.

Yes, I've seen that (JuneauEmpire) story Steve.

Pretty awesome, huh? It's been quite the topic of discussion here the last couple of days.

I thought you might be interested in this video of Sarah in Kuwait: http://ktuu.com/Global/story.asp?S=6835478

(The link is in the 'Featured Video' box on the left). There's some really cool footage of her in target practice at about the 9 minute mark.

Trish (in Alaska)

Note from Steve: Many things are occurring, and I'm more convinced than ever that Sarah Palin will be on the national ticket in the November 4, 2008 election. Sarah's remarks (see below) on her son, Track, are right on the mark. Keep the faith everybody!

Bulletin: Palin in Kuwait Speaks on War

The following July 25, 2007 story is from the JuneauEmpire.com.

The war in Iraq has become increasingly unpopular with Americans and has led to eroded GOP support for President Bush, but Palin, a Republican, said she left politics out of the equation this trip.

"I'm not here to judge the idea of withdrawing, or the timeline," she said in a teleconference interview with reporters from Kuwait. "I'm not going to judge even the surge. I'm here to find out what Alaskans need of me as their governor."

Palin visited the Alaska Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion 297th Infantry, a unit that is made up of about 575 Alaskan men and women. She said she wanted a first-hand look at the sacrifices made by Alaska-based troops in the Middle East so she accepted the offer of a two-day tour, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Palin said this trip was so important to her she cut short her attendance at the National Governors Association meeting, missing the day when she was to be appointed vice-chair to the organization's natural resources committee.

Palin said she enjoyed watching and in a few cases, participating in various training exercises including some firearms practice, but not with live rounds. Palin said she gained a new found appreciation for the individual efforts in Iraq.

"The heat here is overwhelming; it's 127 degrees," she said. "It's like taking a steam all day long. These guys are in fatigues and layers, and they are carrying equipment and guns." She said she didn't know how they can do it. "Some of them are used to zero degrees or 10 and 20 below zero," she said.

Palin also attended a town hall meeting taking questions about everything from the state's effort to get a natural gas line built to the nation's ability to support injured troops.

Palin also addressed the prospects of a family member serving, including her oldest child, 18-year-old Track. "The military is something that he talks about," Palin said. "Would I allow Track to join? I would be willing because I support our troops and I support my son's independence."

Palin was scheduled to visit an area north of Kuwait, but officials wouldn't say where exactly because of security concerns. On her way back to Alaska, she was scheduled to stop in Germany to visit wounded soldiers.

Republicans & the Internet: How to Lose Elections

Joe Trippi, architect of Howard Dean's creative Internet campaign and currently with the Edwards campaign, recently observed that Republicans were getting skunked in 'Net fundraising and list-gathering. Patrick Ruffin on Townhall responded with the following (ominous) comments:

"I agree 100% with Trippi's assessment of the GOP candidates and competition on the net. (Notice how candid he is about his guy Edwards being behind Obama, so this is not just spin.)

There is no underestimating the world of pain we will be in if we don't get the small donor and email list size thing right, and get it right by February 5th [Super Tuesday Primary Day] our nominee can go toe to toe with Hillary (1 million email addresses), Obama (258K donors), or Edwards (Joe Trippi's guy).

What are the GOP campaigns doing about this? Do they even view this as a problem, or are they too bogged down in winning short term tactical victories with high dollar donors and padding cash-on-hand figures? Do they care more about the next quarter, or building a sustainable 50-state, 3,141 county, $400 million-plus movement to take on Hillary or whomever is strong enough to beat her in the primary? Where is the synergy between short-term tactics and long-term strategy?

It's 2007, and the bottom is falling out on direct mail. (And none of the GOP candidates come to the table with a huge housefile anyway, so there shouldn't be a sense of cannibalizing your direct marketing infrastructure.) There's no better time to start prioritizing online over older, increasingly less effective forms of political contact. And yet the response to stuff like this seems to be... crickets.

This isn't a fringe Internet thing. We could lose because we don't correct this, in the same way that we almost lost in 2000 because we forgot door-to-door."

-- Patrick Ruffin

The following is my comment about Patrick's observations:

In my humble view, I blame institutions like Townhall for much of the problem. Somehow, GOP "conservatives" (most of whom spend their time spewing hot air and bashing GOP candidates) think the political answer lies in mobilizing the Hard Right and ignoring the need to build the Party. In the use of the Internet, the GOP is extremely far behind. The Hard Right will make a phone call to a Senator torpedo the Immigration Bill, but it won't contribute $5 to conservative candidates or go door-to-door.

Expressing your "opinion" to Rush or Hugh is all well and good, but preaching to the choir is not a way to win elections. TH has to support efforts to organize in support of conservative candidates -- and get real experts (NOT Richard Viguerie and other ancient types detached from online realities) to explain how to do it.

Obama has 258,000 donors. I doubt ALL the Republican candidates combined have that kind of donor base. Obama got handed to him a MySpace "friends" list of 168,000 people. How many Republicans were even fully aware MySpace existed?

It's way past time for TH to stop agitating the rapidly shrinking Base and start telling people actions they can take to avert the coming disaster.

I've been heavily involved in an Internet-based effort on behalf of Gov. Sarah Palin, and it's paid some nice dividends. Frankly, people should be flocking to this attractive, articulate candidate, but it's been hard slogging. While people are waiting to make their decisions about the national ticket, the Democrats are establishing a powerful foundation to lead them to victory.

The time to make choices about candidates like Sarah is right now -- not after the Democratic horse is long out of the barn. There's no better candidate than Sarah for V-P and there's no chance a better one will somehow materialize.

If the Democrats had a Sarah Palin -- which they don't -- she'd be up on stage battling it out with Hillary, Barack, and John. When they Democrats have someone who's highly electable, they put him or her out there in front of the nation -- as they did at the convention with Obama. We Republicans have a lot to learn when it comes to highlighting candidates like Sarah (and Michael Steele and Mike Huckabbee and J. C. Watts).

If we run people in 2008 whose motto might as well be "Vote for us, because we're old and predictable," then Heaven help us. In the Internet Age, we don't need people who look like they're comfortable with quill pens.

I give a tremendous salute to all the bloggers who have signed up for Sarah and are spending so much time and energy to make sure she gets on the ticket.

Stephen R. Maloney
Ambridge, PA

Organizations That Deserve Our Support

I recommend enthusiastically to all readers two organizations designated to defending the legal rights of American fighting men and women. Please look into these groups and then donate a sum of money, small or large, to them. Thanks.

The Military Combat Defense Fund, reachable at: http://militarycombatdefensefund.com/

Thomas More Law Center, reachable at: http://thomasmore.org/

Soliders who've risked their lives for American deserve our unyielding support, and these organizations provide them with necessary assistance.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sarah Palin and Trib-Review Article

Information From Elephantman

I received today the following information from Adam, "Elephantman," who blogs at http://palinforvp.blogspot.com, which I urge you to visit:

Actually, this news story is about GOP governors saying it's too early to say there's a favorite in the 2008 Race, but read Palin's quote very carefully:

"A lot of us are sitting back and waiting to see if there will be new players in there," Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said. "That's probably why that box that says 'none of the above' is so popular right now." [See my analysis of these comments at end of this piece]

Is there anything between the lines there? I don't like to make lots of presumptions, but something inside me wants to think that Gov. Palin knows what's up.

We may also get some good material on Palin in the next few days as she is
visiting Alaskan troops in Kuwait

As Adam suggests, this is very, very interesting.

Dimitri Vassilaros Column in 07/23 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Adam, Trish Houser (www.palintology.com/), and I were quoted in Dimitri Vassilaros' "The Palin Effect" that appeared in the July 23, 2007 Tribune-Review. Dimitri says the following about us (and other Palin boosters): "Ardent Palinistas strecth from Alaska to Ambridge [PA]. They praise her honesty, leadership, and for worshipping the state Constitution. But they freely admit they know nothing about her stands on most national issues. One of the most ardent [he's referring to me] doesn't want to know, at least yet."

The point I tried to get across to Dimitri is that Sarah Palin is a state official -- not yet a national one. Alaska, like every other state in the union, including Pennsylvania, DOES NOT HAVE ITS OWN POSITION ON ISSUES LIKE IMMIGRATION AND IRAQ.

It's true I don't know Sarah's "positions" on Iraq and Immigration Reform, but I also don't know the positions of PA Governor Ed Rendell, whom I've followed closely for many years, on either issue. Their roles as governors don't require them to take stands on every subject of national interest. Sarah isn't yet a declared candidate for the national ticket. I hope she will be soon.

In fact, however, she has strong positions on many state matters that have national implications.

For example, as her actions show, she's strongly opposed to excessive government spending and the resultant heavy taxes. She's very much in favor of getting Alaskan energy -- especially the state's vast reserves of natural gas -- to us in the lower-48. She has stood foursquare against the kind of political corruption that is prevalent among politicians both in Alaska and in the rest of the country. She's deeply aware of the need to protect Alaska's fragile environment against oil spills and other forms of devastation.

One of the most important issues confronting the Republican ticket (including Sarah) in the 2008 election will be to build national support for common sense positions on controversial issues -- something she excels at. As the Bush Administration's record shows, no reforms (in Social Security, in Immigration, or in the WOT) will take place without national understanding and support.

I'm not advocating purely poll-driven politics. The Democrats have a monopoly on that. Rather, it's clear that without the backing of most Americans, no elected official can "reform" anything. In Alaska, Sarah Palin has achieved an approval rating of 90%, which shows she knows how to get her messages and policies across to voters.

Sarah Palin's policy recommendations on key matters -- especially Iraq, Immigration, and Social Security-Medicare -- will be very important. That's why I hope she and, of course, the eventual presidential nominee, take the time to get their positions right.

The people at the top of the ticket will have to propose NEW solutions, ones that strikes most Americans as reasonable, fair, and workable. In other words, the presidential and vice-presidential nominees will have to show the same kind of political and communication skills Gov. Palin has demonstrated in Alaska.

Yes, we're asking a lot of one governor, but no one has ever gone broke betting on Sarah Palin.

Stephen R. Maloney
Ambridge, PA

Adam (Elephantman) is intrigued by Sarah Palin's comments about possible "new players" entering the presidential primaries. Of course, she could be referring to Fred Thompson (who may, or may not, have been talking to her). Another possibility is that Sarah is thinking about being one of the "new faces" in the campaign for the nation's highest office.

In terms of political strategy, it wouldn't be a bad idea for her to jump into the fray. There would be no better way for her to gain one thing she now lacks: national name recognition. Also, she can see that none of the current candidates has truly caught fire, especially with conservative Republicans.

Sanity102 and others have been making the point that Sarah isn't fully ready for the top slot. On the flip side, however, anyone who runs for the vice-presidency is in fact a heartbeat away from the presidency.

When Franklin Roosevelt died near the end of the World War II, Harry Truman probably wasn't fully "ready" to be President. However, he got ready in a hurry. I believe Sarah could do the same.

John Edwards was a trial lawyer who became a one-term U.S. Senator. Barack Obama has been in the Senate for a year-and-a-half. Neither of them has any executive experience in government. Yet they don't get the "lack-of-experience" tag.

Elephantman is right about Sarah's comments being provocative. She's now in Kuwait, meeting with soliders, and I'll be all ears about what she says . . .

Monday, July 23, 2007

Coming Events: Sarah Palin & Hillary Clinton

Monday, July 23, 2007: As I said earlier, I'm taking a few days off. Later today, I'll write a few comments about Dimitri Vassilaros' column regarding Palin supporters, including yours truly. Tomorrow I'll write about Asst. Sec. of Defense Eric Edelman's criticisms of Hillary Clinton (and others) seeking "contingency plans" for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The two subjects -- the growing support for Sarah Palin and the rise to prominence of Hillary Clinton -- are of course connected. Mrs. Palin, a model of decency and conviction, is the "anti-Hillary."

Not to leave anyone in suspense on the Edelman matter: I agree strong with him that the irresponsible actions of Mrs. Clinton and the anti-war group encourage our enemies and put our soldiers at greatest risk. Like Edelman, she is an American citizen with a perfect right to express her views. Unlike Edelman, she doesn't seem to have a grasp that her "ideas," good ones and bad ones, have consequences.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fred Barnes and Sarah Palin: He Did Everything But Propose Marriage


"Winning isn't everything, but losing isn't anything." (Vince Lombardi)

"Republicans make terrible choices for vice-president, so we've decided to help them." (The "4 Palin Movement")

This is an adapted version of my reply to Sanity’s comments about my interview with a Pittsburgh reporter regarding the Movement to draft Sarah Palin. I don't want a Rudy-Sarah administration (or a Fred-Sarah, or a Mike-Sarah, or a John-Sarah one) to scratch anybody's ideological itch. I want them to SOLVE PROBLEMS and CREATE MORE UNITY in this fractious nation.

Are there any significant negatives to a Sarah candidacy? There certainly don't seem to be. Yes, I idealize her somewhat, but I'm also the one who keeps reminding everyone that there are no perfect candidates. "For all have sinned, all have fallen short of the glory of God."

In the interview, I tried to bring up my point of 50-years-of-bad-vice-presidential-choices-by-Republicans, a thought-provoking point (why did it happen?), but one that didn't go anywhere. Historically, Republicans make awful decisions about the vice-presidential role. Our efforts on behalf of Sarah are an attempt to break that cycle.

Sanity, do you remember when I was trying (too hard) to get a guy to join the 4-Palin effort, and he kept asking about her “stand” on immigration? In your nice way, you told me to stop pandering to him -- and suggested (demurely?) that he was a Mexican-hater.

You were right. He wanted to know if Sarah supported the building of the "Berlin-Wall-on-the-Rio-Grande." He didn't want to hear that immigration is too complicated and too important for any sane person to concoct a position that fits on a bumper sticker.

The far-right (what Sanity calls the "absolutists") won a great "victory" in defeating immigration reform. The cost of the victory may be electoral defeat in 2008 -- and perhaps for many years after that. (See my comments later today on what the Economist magazine said on the subject.)

In the interview, it may have been my own deficiencies, but I couldn't get across the point that politics-as-usual will not work anymore. The three leading Democratic candidates (Edwards will fade quickly) will be: a white woman, a Black man, and a Hispanic (Richardson). Against such dynamic candidates some Republicans are proposing our classic ticket of two aging white guys, one eligible for Medicare, one almost there.

Lorie Byrd, a superb political columnist for TH, has suggested that a good choice for V-P would be Michael Steele, a Black man who served as Lt. Gov. in Maryland and ran for the U.S. Senate there. On my original short list of good candidates, I listed Sarah Palin, Michael Steele, and Mike Huckabee (an ordained Baptist minister and Palin supporter Kerry’s choice for the presidential nominee). They’re all un-traditional candidates.

Let me be clear: I support Sarah Palin as the best possible candidate for the vice-presidential slot. There are other good choices (Steele and Huckabee), but Sarah is the best one.

In Fred Barnes's fine piece on Sarah, he did everything but propose marriage to her. What other candidate, Democrat or Republican, would merit such an article? The most intriguing thing about Barnes's observations is that they're true. It's a tribute to the finest woman in American politics.

My fellow Republicans need to remember that this is NOT the America of 1948 or 1952, and there's no Eisenhower (a moderate Republican who wouldn't be acceptable to the modern Right) out there.

Why is it so difficult to get some people to recognize the situation? Elephantman, who's 20 years old, figured out months ago when he determined that Sarah Palin could make the GOP ticket a winner.

There are signs out there that people starting to think with their brains rather than their rear ends.

This morning on CNN, they released the latest poll numbers from South Carolina. Rudy Giuliani had 28%, John McCain 20%, and Fred Thompson 17%. The people on CNN (liberals John Roberts and Bill Schneider) were amazed. How, they asked, could a former Mayor of New York be leading in a Deep South state, one with a large number of evangelical Christians? (The media hate it when voters don't live up to journalistic stereotypes.)

Recently, one South Carolina evangelical (and a strong pro-lifer) put it this way: Rudy, he said, is “resolute . . . a leader.” The man added, “And I think he can beat Mrs. Clinton.”

That’s going to be a major consideration in the months ahead. Right now, Rudy Giuliani is probably as happy as a man strolling through a field of high cotton (old Deep South saying). It's still early, but he is looking like a winner.

Stephen Maloney

Ambridge, PA

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gov. Palin, Senator Jim Webb and the "Issues"

Note: In this column, I'm going to write about Sarah Palin and her "stands" on national issues. It's clear that some pople have a basic misunderstanding of the role of a state governor, as opposed to a federal official. Frankly, governors are not some elected form of "talk-radio-callers," people who are never at a loss for opinions. ("Rush, I have an opinion on this-here Global Warming thing . . . ")

Senator Daniel P. Moynihan once said, "We have a right to our own opinions, but we don't have a right to our own facts." Most talk-radio callers, talk-radio hosts, and even columnists have a habit of ignoring Moynihan's point.

The fact is that any state governor -- be it Alaska's Sarah Palin or Pennsylvania's Ed Rendell -- has opinions on many subjects. However, unless their views are a legitimate matter of state interest, they keep their opinions to themselves. States don't have their own foreign policies, and they don't have their own immigration policies.

When Sarah Palin, committed to keeping taxes down, veoted many items in the state's capital budget (hundreds of millions of dollars worth), she often wrote next to the veto signature these words: "Not a matter of state interest."

That's a critical point many people fail to recognize. Certain issues are legitimate concerns of governors, and others are not.

Spouting opinions on various subjects, no matter how tempting it might be, is not part of a governor's responsibility -- something that Ed Rendell knows as well as Sarah Palin.

The national issues that also have state consequences for Alaska are energy, the environment, taxation, political corruption, and economic growth. Gov. Palin is extremely strong on all these national/state issues. That strength is what led columnists like Fred Barnes and Dimitri Vassilaros to feature her in recent articles. It's what has caused the Republican Governor's Association to devote its current website (http://rga.org) to the praise she's drawn for her accomplishments.

When the time comes for Sarah Palin to speak out on issues like Iraq and immigration, she should do so. That time will come when she speaks to the Republican nominee and he offers her the vice-presidential slot.

Before then, she should follow the example of Ed Rendell and every other governor with a grain of sense -- and keep her opinions on bumper-sticker issues to herself. She understands that, as the highest elected official in her state, actions speak much louder than words. Her actions on critical issues have earned her a 90% approval rating. That's a very good start.


As I said to Sanity in another communication, I had a long -- and rather unsetting -- interview today about Sarah Palin's candidacy for the vice-presidency (and someday, for the presidency). The interview reminded me of how ideologically intense politics in the USA have become.

I strongly support Sarah because she's an honest, hard-working, constitutionally oriented person who is a fierce campaigner and a winner. Her job in the nation's highest office(s) would be to make America more secure and, to the degree possible, to enable people to feel more satisfied (well, a little more) about their lives. She should be a healer of divisions, not a creator of them. The presidential and the vice-presidential candidates have to bring the country together, which they're not going to do with ideology and partisanship, but rather with character, compassion, and communication skills.

As for GWB, he got deeply wounded politically on immigration. Of course that spills over and affects his degree of public support on other issues.

Look at it this way: the Dems say they oppose the war (i.e., oppose George Bush's conduct of it) but support the troops. That is in fact a meaningless distinction, as Senator Kit Bond of Missouri, whose son is serving in Iraq, said this morning on CNN. Opposing the War -- and doing so in a politically cynical way -- confuses and HURTS the troops. It encourages the enemy. It results in deaths and injuries to American soldiers. Senator Bond was too gentlemanly to say that, so I'll say it for him.

To Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Murtha, Jim Webb, and other ideologues, I say this: you have blood on your hands. You are trading American lives for the votes and support of your "base," one-third of whom believe GWB was complicit in 9/11. You are listening to the fanatics -- mentally unbalanced America-haters -- in your effort to stay in office. That is not leadership. It is a form of political indecency, obscenity.

Senator Webb's son is fighting in Iraq. He's trying her best to prevent psychotic people from murdering innocent Iraqis and destroying any effort to create a decent society. And what is Senator Webb doing? He's taking political steps to ensure that the fanatics win. He's putting his own son at risk for reasons that are incomprehensible. It's disgusting behavior.

Speaker Pelosi wants to fight the War in Afghanistan. Why? Because the polls haven't yet turned completely against it? And what about when the sacred "polls" show diminished support for that effort? Then, like John Edwards, the Dems may declare the WOT an illusion. If we close our eyes and wish upon a star, there will be no bin Laden, no al Qaeda, no mass murders.

Then, the Dems can go back to their favorite task, which is redistributing income and ignoring foreign policy. Hey, it worked for Bill Clinton!

I guess this is why I'm not a big fan of the Dems.

Stephen R. Maloney

As the day goes on, I'll write about Sarah and "national issues." In fact, the challenges Sarah is grappling with in Alaska -- especially energy, the environment, taxes, economic growth, and political corruption -- ARE critical national issues. She's dealing them with practically and decisively -- and in a way that's brought her a 90% approval rating, which is about 70% higher than the ratings for the Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pittsburgh Columnist Salutes Sarah

NOTE: Christopher Wensley (http://youngrepublican.townhall.com/) brought to my attention that the Republican Governor's Association (http://rga.org/) features Gov. Sarah Palin on its website, along with a reprint of the Fred Barnes Weekly Standard piece on her as the GOP's rising star. I brought the Tribune-Review article (see below) to the attention of the RGA's press people. Re Sarah: The iron is hot, and we need to keep striking.

The following is a reprint of a July 16, 2007 column about Sarah Palin that appeared in the Pittsburgh (PA) Tribune-Review. I hope every supporter of Sarah will drop a short e-mail to Dimitri Vasillaros, the author (see link at end), and tell him just how right he is about Sarah.

Palin is GOP's beacon
By Dimitri Vassilaros
Monday, July 16, 2007

Sarah Palin can teach Republicans how to be Republicans. It's a simple lesson. But it won't be easy for anyone who thinks being pragmatic and principled are mutually exclusive.

Mrs. Palin, 43, is the governor of Alaska and the brightest light in the land of the midnight sun. While rasing four kids with her husband, Palin has reduced taxes, embraced the state Constitution, publicly complained about powerful fellow Republicans she thought unethical, encouraged companies to compete for state contracts -- and has not ruled out running for president.

She relishes moose burgers because "they taste better than beef with no chemicals, steroids or hormones." She adopted the Pittsburgh Steelers because of the team's success in the 1970s and because there are no major professional teams in her state.

As a teenage flautist trying to win a scholarship, she was second runner-up in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant. Looking back, she now thinks she was livestock in a swimsuit being eyed by the male judges. "Degrading" she calls it now.

Talk with her for awhile, as I did last Wednesday, and try to count the number of references to her state Constitution. During that phone call, she cited it more than 12 times -- not once gratuitously.

"It's my bible in governing," Palin says. "I try to keep it so simple by reading the thing and believing in it and living it. It's providential. Some of the crafters of the Constitution are still alive. They're my mentors, my advisers. I get to meet with these folks and ask, 'What did you mean by this?' And it makes so much sense."

Palin does not favor same-sex marriage. However, she vetoed a bill prohibiting official gay unions because the judiciary had ruled that banning it was unconstitutional. "I wasn't going to disobey what the courts said we could and couldn't do." When she swore to uphold the law, she meant it.

Ask her to articulate her conservative principles and you'll hear, "Fiscally speaking, the private sector can do a better job than government can do." She also believes in man. "Also just trusting individuals to make wise decisions for themselves and families. I have a lot of trust in individuals. I don't trust government nearly as much."

Gov. Palin vetoed about a third or more of the capital budget, she says. "It's not an open, transparent process at all. The way (the Legislature) works, the administration doesn't even know what's in it until the gavel falls. It's handed to the governor without public process and public debate. It's a nonsensical way of budgeting."

Many of the vetoed items were earmarks by her fellow Republicans. Little wonder she and her party are estranged political bedfellows. "There's absolutely no communication between the state administration and the Republican Party," she says. "No communication, no calling for advice either way."

Some would look at that as the price she has to pay for being a GOP maverick. That is, someone who talks the talk and walks the walk. "I look at it as the way it's supposed to be."

Palin recently signed a bill vastly improving Alaska's ethics and disclosure laws. Now it's a crime for public servants not to report bribery they know about.

Ask her five or six different times if she will run for president and hear nervous giggles and self-deprecating humor. But you won't hear "No."

Dimitri Vassilaros is a Trib editorial page columnist. His column appears Sundays, Mondays and Fridays. Call him at 412-380-5637. E-mail him at dvassilaros@tribweb.com.


Sanity102 & Wil Keepers: Sarah and the "Experience" Factor

Two of the finest bloggers on Townhall are Wil Keepers (he calls his blog "Ramblings of an Average American") and Sanity102 (http://outsideofthebox.townhall.com/). They've had a recent exchange in response to Sanity's strong support of Sarah Palin for the vice-presidential nomination. (You can see the full exchange on Sanity's blog.)

Wil's key comments to her follow: ". . . I have searched and I have yet to find what Palin would do in the war [on terror]. This is such a pivotal issue, that to me, a person one heartbeat away from the Presidency would have to show a grasp of this issue, and come to the right conclusions for me to consider them. True the VP does not set foreign policy, but they must be competent in it for there to be any confidence in the ticket as a whole. (Think Dan Quayle...despite the jokes, he was a departure from the old part of the old white guy club, yet his opponents played on his age and inexperience as weaknesses and exploited them for political gain)."

The following is my response: "Wil is a serious commenter on critical issues. The point he's raised is worthy of about 10,000 columns (at least).

I support Sarah in part, perhaps in large part, because of the "fresh eyes" phenomenon. Given her personality and history, she would conduct the WOT vigorously, with a commitment to winning it. However, she should not comment on Iraq until after the Republican nominee offers her the V-P slot. Alaska does not have a foreign policy.

What we absolutely cannot tolerate is a continuation of foreign and defense policies as our "established leaders" have defined them. We can't fight a war on anything if half the country (or more) opposes the endeavor.

In other words, we don't want the WOT over the next 8-9 years to go on as it has recently -- with great opposition to its fundamentals coming from Washington, DC. That's not fair to anyone, especially the soldiers who receive mixed messages everyday from Washington. Wil and everyone else have to tackle this issue -- and not assume that experience in the continuing "food fight" over Iraq has some special value.

Some of the Democratic candidates (Biden, Dodd, Richardson) have foreign policy experience, but their comments on the WOT are not helpful. John Edwards, who's perhaps assumed to have experience (but doesn't) says the WOT is a "bumper-sticker," a Bush-generated fantasy. His fellow candidates have not exactly responded decisively to Edwards' comment.

"New" (and Sarah is new in spades) is not always better, but old -- things as they have been and the debate as now defined -- is totally unacceptable. It's all well and good for the Dems to say they "support our troops," but that's like saying you support Michagan while half-hoping (for political reasons) that Ohio State wins. Unintentionally or not, the Democrats' stand does in fact embolden the enemy.

In a practical sense, the Dems -- the experienced and the inexperienced -- are sleeping with the enemy. Can V-P Sarah or, if the chief executive passes away, President Sarah function effectively in that situation? Of course not, and no top leader could.

What I'm saying is that Sarah can bring a new perspective (precisely because she's not yet "implicated" pro-or-con in the old war strategy) and find new, more compelling ways to explain what's at stake. The "old guys" can't do that apparently, because if they could, they would.

Like all Presidents, Sarah will need good advisors. I'd suggest people like Sanity, Wil Keepers, Elephantman, Diana Lynn Irey, Michael Steele, Lorie Byrd, and me. But what about all the "old Washington hands?" I'd recommend that she avoid them, since they're ones who have given GWB some very bad advice.

On the Dan Quayle comparison: his problem was not "inexperience." It was incompetence. The guy is an intellectual and political lightweight. Ironically, his wife is neither.

That's not a problem Sarah has. She is tough, smart, and an outstanding communicator -- all qualities Quayle lacks. For many people, Quayle was the classic "deer in the headlights. Sarah's nickname is the "Barracuda."

In the WOT, deer is bad, and barracuda is excellent.

Stephen R. Maloney
Ambridge, PA