Sunday, July 8, 2007

Reprint of Weekly Standard Piece on Sarah

The post below is Fred Barnes's superb article on Sarah Palin. I'm going to leave it "up front" for a day or two. Underneath the Barnes piece, you'll find today's (Monday's) comments. Thanks for visiting. If you'd like to leave comments or to support Sarah's candidacy, please let me know. I'd very much recommend your visiting a new site (by an Alaskan!):

The Most Popular Governor
Alaska’s Sarah Palin is the GOP’s newest star.
by Fred Barnes07/16/2007,
The Weekly Standard
Volume 012, Issue 41


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.”

As recently as last year, Palin (pronounced pale-in) was a political outcast. She resigned in January 2004 as head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission after complaining to the office of Governor Frank Murkowski and to state Attorney General Gregg Renkes about ethical violations by another commissioner, Randy Ruedrich, who was also Republican state chairman.

State law barred Palin from speaking out publicly about ethical violations and corruption. But she was vindicated later in 2004 when Ruedrich, who’d been reconfirmed as state chairman, agreed to pay a $12,000 fine for breaking state ethics laws. She became a hero in the eyes of the public and the press, and the bane of Republican leaders.

In 2005, she continued to take on the Republican establishment by joining Eric Croft, a Democrat, in lodging an ethics complaint against Renkes, who was not only attorney general but also a long-time adviser and campaign manager for Murkowski. The governor reprimanded Renkes and said the case was closed. It wasn’t. Renkes resigned a few weeks later, and Palin was again hailed as a hero.

Palin, 43, the mother of four, passed up a chance to challenge Republican senator Lisa Murkowski, the then-governor’s daughter, in 2004. She endorsed another candidate in the primary, but Murkowski won and was reelected. Palin said then that her 14-year-old son talked her out of running, though it’s doubtful that was the sole reason.

In 2006, she didn’t hesitate. She ran against Gov. Murkowski, who was seeking a second term despite sagging poll ratings, in the Republican primary. In a three-way race, Palin captured 51 percent and won in a landslide. She defeated former Democratic governor Tony Knowles in the general election, 49 percent to 41 percent.

She was one of the few Republicans anywhere in the country to perform above expectations in 2006, an overwhelmingly Democratic year. Palin is unabashedly pro life.

With her emphasis on ethics and openness in government, “it turned out Palin caught the temper of the times perfectly,” wrote Tom Kizzia of the Anchorage Daily News. She was also lucky. News broke of an FBI investigation of corruption by legislators between the primary and general elections. So far, three legislators have been indicted.

In the roughly three years since she quit as the state’s chief regulator of the oil industry, Palin has crushed the Republican hierarchy (virtually all male) and nearly every other foe or critic. Political analysts in Alaska refer to the “body count” of Palin’s rivals. “The landscape is littered with the bodies of those who crossed Sarah,” says pollster Dave Dittman, who worked for her gubernatorial campaign. It includes Ruedrich, Renkes, Murkowski, gubernatorial contenders John Binkley and Andrew Halcro, the three big oil companies in Alaska, and a section of the Daily News called “Voice of the Times,” which was highly critical of Palin and is now defunct.

One of her first acts as governor was to fire the Alaska Board of Agriculture. Her ultimate target was the state Creamery Board, which has been marketing the products of Alaska dairy farmers for 71 years and wanted to close down after receiving $600,000 from the state. “You don’t just close your doors and walk away,” Palin told me. She discovered she lacked the power to fire the Creamery Board. Only the board of agriculture had that authority. So Palin replaced the agriculture board, which appointed a new creamery board, which has rescinded the plan to shut down.

In preserving support for dairy farmers, Palin exhibited a kind of Alaskan chauvinism. She came to the state as an infant, making her practically a native. And she is eager to keep Alaska free from domination by oil companies or from reliance on cruise lines whose ships bring thousands of tourists to the state.

“She’s as Alaskan as you can get,” says Dan Fagan, an Anchorage radio talk show host. “She’s a hockey mom, she lives on a lake, she ice fishes, she snowmobiles, she hunts, she’s an NRA member, she has a float plane, and her husband works for BP on the North Slope,” Fagan says. Todd Palin, her high school sweetheart, is a three-time winner of the 2,000-mile Iron Dog snowmobile race from Wasilla to Nome to Fairbanks. It’s the world’s longest snowmobile race.

Gov. Palin grew up in Wasilla, where as star of her high school basketball team she got the nickname “Sarah Barracuda” for her fierce competitiveness. She led her underdog team to the state basketball championship. Palin also won the Miss Wasilla beauty contest, in which she was named Miss Congeniality, and went on to compete in the Miss Alaska pageant.

At 32, she was elected mayor of Wasilla, a burgeoning bedroom community outside Anchorage. Though Alaskans tend to be ferociously anti-tax, she persuaded Wasilla voters to increase the local sales tax to pay for an indoor arena and convention center. The tax referendum won by 20 votes.

In 2002, Palin entered statewide politics, running for lieutenant governor. She finished a strong second in the Republican primary. That fall, she dutifully campaigned for Murkowski, who’d given up his Senate seat to run for governor. Afterwards, she turned down several job offers from Murkowski, finally accepting the oil and gas post. When she quit 11 months later, “that was her defining moment” in politics, says Fagan.

Her campaign for governor was bumpy. She missed enough campaign appearances to be tagged “No Show Sarah” by her opponents. She was criticized for being vague on issues. But she sold voters on the one product that mattered: herself.

Her Christian faith–Palin grew up attending nondenominational Bible churches–was a minor issue in the race. She told me her faith affects her politics this way: “I believe everything happens for a purpose. In my own personal life, if I dedicated back to my Creator what I’m trying to create for the good . . . everything will turn out fine.” That same concept applies to her political career, she suggested.

The biggest issue in the campaign was the proposed natural gas pipeline from the North Slope that’s crucial to the state’s economy. Murkowski had made a deal with the three big oil companies–Exxon, BP, ConocoPhillips–which own the gas reserves to build the pipeline. But the legislature turned it down and Palin promised to create competition for the pipeline contract.

She made three other promises: to end corruption in state government, cut spending, and provide accountability.

She’s now redeeming those promises.

Palin describes herself as “pro-business and pro-development.” She doesn’t want the oil companies to sit on their energy reserves or environmental groups to block development of the state’s resources. “I get frustrated with folks from outside Alaska who come up and say you shouldn’t develop your resources,” she says. Alaska needs to be self-sufficient, she says, instead of relying heavily on “federal dollars,” as the state does today.

Her first major achievement as governor was lopsided passage by the legislature of the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, which is designed to attract pipeline proposals this summer. The state is offering $500 million in incentives, but the developer must meet strict requirements. The oil companies have said they won’t join the competition.

Palin’s tough spending cuts drew criticism from Republican legislators whose pet projects were vetoed. But her popularity doesn’t appear threatened. “It’s not just that she’s pretty and young,” says Dittman. “She’s really smart. And there’s no guile. She says her favorite meal is moose stew or mooseburgers. It wouldn’t shock people if that were true.”

Fred Barnes is executive editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
© Copyright 2007, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.
Weekly Standard

Thoughts on Risk-Taking: Sarah's . . . and Ours

One of my favorite "literary" quotes (from poet William B. Yeats) says, "Sometimes all of life seems a preparation for something that never happens." I'd put it this way: if you don't take risks, not much happens -- not much good, not much bad. At its worst, you can end up like poet T. S. Eliot's character J. Alfred Prufrock, who debates whether he should "eat a peach," which after all can be messy.

One thing you hear a lot in business is that "without risk, there is no reward." Unlike a lot of business sayings, that one happens to be true. When Bill Gates left Harvard in his sophomore year (nobody leaves Harvard!) to start a small company, he took a tremendous risk. He ended up with $60-plus billion, which is a Mt. Everest-sized reward.

I take a lot of risks. In my efforts for Sarah Palin, I am an aggressive recruiter, and so are some of you. Sarah's candidacy will not go forward if we're faint-hearted -- or if we operate only in the shadows. If all we ask is that people "consider" supporting Sarah, they (most of them) will ignore her. At some point with every individual, we need to close the deal.

My friend Sanity102 told me once that I was pandering to a "potential" Palin supporter. He was right. The individual was obsessed with what Sarah's position was in immigration, and I was trying to explain that, as a governor of a state where immigration is not an issue, she didn't have a position. Sanity detected that this individual was a one-issue fanatic whose support wasn't worth the effort. Sanity was right.

I'm staying away from single-issue people. Many of them are animated mostly by hatred for others. I don't "play well" with haters. I do much better with individuals who understand that no candidate is perfect and who are aware that politics is the "art of the possible." In other words, when we support a candidate, we must understand that person will not agree with us on every issue. At times, they may disappoint us.

When you read the Barnes piece above, you'll recognize that Sarah Palin is a person grounded in reality. She's also a major -- and unabashed -- risk-taker.

A beautiful young woman, Sarah was not particularly "feminine" or "dainty" in her aggressive basketball skills. An obvious high-potential student, she also competed as a beauty queen in the "Miss Alaska" pageant.

In government, Sarah violated a major political principle: specifically, she refused "to wait her turn." At a young age, she became a member of the Wasilla, Alaska council and, soon thereafter, served two terms as the city's Mayor.

Then, she ran -- before she was ready perhaps -- for lieutenant governor. She lost, perhaps the last race where she'd ever come in second.

Later, she began bucking the political establishment full-time. She rejected the "mother's milk of Alaska politics," a steady stream of political corruption. She resigned from Alaska's Oil & Gas Commission because of the stench of bad behavior.

She took on both the state's Republican governor, Frank Murkowski, and its Attorney General, an individual much more tolerant of "politics as usual" than Sarah.

She beat Murkowski, the current governor and a former Senator, in the Republican primary. Then, she went on to knock off -- by a whopping margin -- from governor and Democrat Tony Knowles.

In 2006, she became the state's youngest -- and its first female -- governor, and she was 42 years old.

She's pro-business and pro-growth. However, unlike some Republican politicos, she doesn't roll over for huge enterprises -- particularly the Big Oil companies that have generally had their way. That's risky behavior, because huge companies have a habit of trying to squash elected officials who cross them.

This is a continuation of a theme in Sarah's life, going back to her basketball days. She led her small school against much bigger ones, and guess who won the state championship?

Her whole history is one of a person who doesn't "play well with others" -- when they're not playing by legal and moral rules. She doesn't tolerate incompetence or illegal behavior.

She runs for offices before she's "ready." Then, she goes in and does a tremendous job. Some long-term politicians, especially the ones whose careers she's ruined, hate her. The only ones who love her are the people, who have given her a 90% approval rate.

I urge you: read the Barnes piece again. This is NOT a woman who's too good to be true. Instead, she's a person acting the way decent human being should. She's a public servant who's actually serving the public. Imagine that!

Her life up to now has not consisted of waiting for things to occur. In fact, she makes them happen.

Stephen R. Maloney

Note: Is Sarah Palin aware of our efforts on her behalf? Sure she is. :-)


ElephantMan said...

Get a load of this!

Madeline's Dad got Hugh Hewitt to briefly mention Palinf as a Veep idea.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Madeline's Dad has an absolutely excellent site (Where'sMyKeys), and he has been very helpful on the Palin effort. I haven't been able to able to get him to sign up "4 palin," but I think he's leaning that way. See my comment below (on immigration) to Sandra and Sanity. Sandra says Sarah would make an excellent V-P, and she's right.

Kerry said...

Good morning Steve ... I am writing to encourage you in your efforts to bring Sarah Palin to the national spotlight, and ultimately to the Republican Ticket in 2008 in the role of VP. I am officially joining you today in the 4Palin campaign. I have linked to your blog on my page and will be opening a new category on my blog to post information and updates about Gov. Palin. I know you realize that most of my writing time is spent on the Huckabee campaign (A Huckabee/Palin ticket in 2008 would be dynamic and unstoppable!), but will keep my readers updated on the 4 Palin efforts and hopefully get some more people taking a look at this amazing Governor.

Stay strong ...


Stephen R. Maloney said...

God bless you Kerry. I think your Mike Huckabee blog is one of the jewels of the blogosphere, and I look forward to commenting on your posts. You're the kind of person any candidate would love to have supporting him (or her).