Palin is Back at Work.

5 12 2008

I looked at the Anchorage Daily News today, and my first thought was, “Hey, isn’t that the lady from TV?” Yes, indeed, Governor Sarah Palin is back in Alaska and it looks like she’s working!

After the national media descended on Alaska last summer, like ravens on a Wendy’s dumpster, many things were dragged out into the spotlight that otherwise might have lingered in Alaskan obscurity. I think of that bizarre phenomenon like a team of ten or twelve strangers coming into your house and emptying out your closets, taking inventory, and then writing about it.  You’d realize that maybe you had some strange stuff in there, that you had just gotten used to, and other stuff you didn’t even know was in there…but now that you look at it all in the light of day, through someone else’s eyes, you realize that maybe you should have been cleaning out your closets more often.  One of those things was the Palin administration’s record on health care for children and pregnant women.  The national media was not kind in its analysis of how Palin was caring for women and children, and many Alaskans had been furious about it for some time, and felt vindicated by the media analysis from outside the state.

Lawmakers have scrapped for years over Denali KidCare, which provides health insurance for lower income children and pregnant women. Palin last year opposed the push to increase coverage — even though the state was enjoying a huge surplus at the time from high oil prices. It’s one of dozens of policy calls that came under scrutiny as the governor became a national figure in the wake of her nomination this summer for vice president.

Palin, pressed on why she’s now changed her position, kept repeating that it is an opportunity for more children to be covered.

And, as usual, nobody is happy. Democrats think she hasn’t gone far enough, and Republicans think she’s gone too far. But Republicans will likely not stop it, and Democrats will take what they can get.

One of the good things that has come from Palin’s run for VP, is that Alaskans have been forced to look outside the bubble. Those who have felt that Palin’s policies and attitudes were not in alignment with their own, are now realizing that a lot of other Americans out there share their sentiments. It’s hard sometimes to remember that out there is a big wide world that isn’t Alaskan.

We were all expecting, with the price of oil dipping below $40/barrel yesterday, that the state budget was once again going to fall victim to Palin’s dreaded red pen. So this increase in an “entitlement program” in the face of plummeting oil prices, and the coming economic crunch, came as a bit of a surprise. I wonder how much her decisions in the next few years will be made in consideration of that world outside. She has plans for 2012, after all…

Palin will release the rest of her proposed state budget next week and said not to expect any significant cuts. She downplayed the danger falling oil prices pose to the state budget, saying Alaska is in a far better position than other states.

Palin claimed the state could still end up with a surplus even if oil averages $45 a barrel over the next several months.

David Teal, the state Legislature’s chief budget analyst, said that is possible for the current fiscal year that ends in June. But he has doubts. “Oil is falling pretty fast; we don’t know if we’re going to have a surplus or a deficit,” Teal said in an interview. Palin’s new spending plan, though, would start in the next fiscal year — when Alaska oil prices would have to average at least $20 a barrel more than now to balance the budget.

Welcome to the season of tight-rope walking, fiscal wrangling and hand-wringing as we try to pack all that stuff back in the closet.





Readers Who Purchased Sarah Palin’s Biography Might Also Like….WHAT?!

30 11 2008
Sarah for Sale
Sarah for Sale

Oh, those crazy conservatives at Human Events….they do make me laugh!  Most of the time they make me cringe, and occasionally they make me nauseous, but somehow they manage to toss me little crumbs that make it all worth while.  Today, I received my daily email from the dark side, and in it, the offer of “Sarah Palin’s New Book” for free!

Of course, the book isn’t by Sarah Palin as the subject line might imply.  And it isn’t new as the subject line might also imply.  This book has been around for at least a year, and I’ve seen it sitting in stacks on the book table at Costco. 

 I’ve even seen it for sale at Wal-Mike’s (left), an interesting little business with lots of “local color,” located on the Parks Highway about an hour north of Wasilla, where they were also selling a ‘Sarah Palin for Governor’ frisbee for $1500.  I didn’t bother to check how much they were charging for the book.  But, I digress…

 Back to the email:

Now, the major media is in full overdrive to smear and rewrite the accomplishments of this courageous young woman and rising Republican star.

But who is the real Sarah Palin?

She is more than a former beauty queen, conservative politician, family advocate, hockey mom with “lipstick” and moose-hunting NRA lifetime member.

She is a true reformer who took on the political and business establishment in Alaska and won.

And she may make history as the first female vice president of the United States.

(screechy brake noise)  She MAY make history as the first female vice president?  Yes, I received this email on November 30th, which means that Human Events doesn’t actually update, or proofread their emails before sending them.   It’s the “Just use that one again” strategy.

In Sarah, the first biography of Palin, author Kaylene Johnson draws upon personal interviews with Palin herself, her family, and closely placed sources to explore her private and public life. Sarah also includes 16 pages of Sarah Palin’s most personal photos!

(screechy brake noise) MOST personal photos?  Couldn’t we just have the regular personal photos?  What makes these the MOST personal??  I solemnly take a vow that the next time I am in Costco, I will take a big deep breath and look at Sarah Palin’s most personal photos, and report back.

In the meantime, those of you who do not have access to this amazing free book deal, can order your very own copy of Sarah at Amazon for a mere $15.95 in paperback.  AND, you know how Amazon has that thing where you can buy two related books, and get a special offer?  Here’s the deal you get with Sarah:

Buy Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned the Political Establishment Upside Down and get Terror Occulta at an additional 5% off Amazon.com’s everyday low price.   Buy Together Today: $25.86

HUH??  No, I am not making this upTerror Occulta….truly.  This is the book, of all books, that Amazon has chosen to pair with Sarah Palin’s Biography. Wow.

Here’s a brief description:

Product Description
In a classic tale of good and evil, in Terror Occulta, author Victor F. Paletta goes to an eerie and wicked place that is wholly unusual and utterly fascinating. His is a distant future where life on earth has taken a turn for the worst. An enemy that once hid from a more technologically advanced people turns the tide, and is now on a relentless hunt for humans.

Could this “distant future” be…(insert creepy organ chord here)….2012???

terror-occulta





Interesting Rumors from a Reliable Source…

22 11 2008

It’s a relatively quiet day on the Mudflats. That always makes me nervous. It usually means that shortly there are going to be so many things hitting the fan, I won’t even have time to cover them all. That’s been the pattern, anyway.

There’s a little fallout from Turkey Gate. New news is promised on Monday regarding the crazy Stevens trial revelations which one reader brilliantly described as “Dynasty meets Northern Exposure meets The Sopranos.” But other than that, not much news. This gave lots of time today for speculation about things here in Alaska. Will the Governor be running for Lisa Murkowski’s senate seat in 2010, or will she try for another term as governor? And WHO will rise up and run against her? Will Ted Stevens win his appeal? Will I actually be able to consume turkey this Thanksgiving after witnessing Joe the executioner and his cone of death?

But a couple hours ago, I heard a little sound…..a sound you can only hear when it’s quiet. Like a paper envelope being slid under a door. (OK, this happened via email, but it doesn’t make as good a story) Minding my own business, sitting at my rolltop desk, watching the snow fall, the sound made me look up. I turned around, and sure enough I spotted it – an envelope, face down on the wide plank entryway floor. I stood and hurried over to the door, flung it open, and looked right….nothing. Looked left….and I just about made out a glimpse of a black cape as it whisked around the corner and out of sight. Hmmmm. I thought about pursuing the caped stranger, but as I had just been blogging, and following the proper dress code rules, I was in my pajamas and didn’t feel like racing out in the cold.

“Mudflats”. Yes, it was addressed to me. I slit open the envelope, intrigued. No return address, and the letter was signed “A Reputable Source.” (That means I know who it is, but I can’t tell you).

And the contents of the mystery note? A clue. A clue, which addressed one of the very questions I had just been pondering, and it wasn’t the one about the turkey, which won’t be answered until Thanksgiving Day.

The question? Who will step up to be the dragon slayer in 2010? Who has the smarts, the experience, the integrity, and the chutzpah to go toe-to-toe with Sarah Palin, whether she runs for governor, or senator. And there was the answer, scrawled in unfamiliar penmanship – Democratic State Senator Hollis French.

Ahhh. This is good. He is very qualified, has an impressive resume, and is one of the White Knights of the Legislature. Before he gets the official Mudflats endorsement, however (not that this endorsement is particularly coveted), I’m going to wait and watch and see what happens when the Legislature meets again. They have much on their plates, and they need to know they are supported, but they have some tough decisions ahead and people will be watching.

I saw Hollis French on Thursday. He was on line at Costco. That’s why I love this state. Our representatives aren’t somewhere distant, holed up in a marble tower. They don’t seem alien and unapproachable. They are on line at Costco, buying fruit. LOTS of fruit. The man really loves fruit. So, when it becomes appropriate to send something to Hollis French when he becomes our next Governor, or Senator, I’ll make it a fruit basket, and make it under $250.





Alaska’s Senate Race – The Morning After

19 11 2008

Alaska has a Blue Senator. Mark Begich has won the election.

So where do we stand, and what does this mean?

Mark Begich – It means that Mayor Senator Begich gets to pack his bags and head to Washington DC, with his wife and son, to start giving progressive Alaskans and centrists, and people who don’t want a convicted felon representing them in our nation’s capitol, a voice. If he’s wise, and smart, he will take the Ted Stevens debacle as a cautionary tale. If he plays his cards right, he could be there for a long long time, but the Republican party will have him in their sights, and be watching for every little slip-up.

If the Democrats in the Senate are wise and smart, they’ll be really nice to Senator Begich and give him a couple nice feathers in his cap to wear home to Alaska. They know the kind of bombastic, blow hards Alaska is capable of sending to the capitol, and they probably don’t want it to happen again. And they sure don’t want Sarah Palin gunning for an open senate seat in 6 years. Mark Begich will be like salve on a wound for many who have had to endure Ted Stevens for decades.

Who will fill Mayor Begich’s seat after he leaves? Anchorage Assembly Chair Matt Claman. Matt just took over the chairmanship of the Assembly when a surprise progressive majority took over the paralyzingly conservative Anchorage Assembly that had previously been populated by junior versions of the aforementioned bombastic, blow hards. When the Assembly shifted to the left, Claman was chosen. I know Matt Claman and he’s a good guy. He lacks the extroversion and charisma of Begich, but his principles are sound, and he’s a concensus builder, and a rational thinker. He’ll probably do a pretty good job. He’ll be there until April, when the mayoral elections happen. He may decide to run for the position officially at that time. There are several others who have thrown their hat in the ring too. And this may cause some interesting wrangling, since one of those candidates is Assembly Vice Chair Sheila Selkregg. Today’s Anchorage Daily News has an interesting article on these behind the scenes goings on.

Sarah Palin – Well, God sent a message to Sarah. She said if God opened a door, even a crack, she’d “plow through it”. But tonight, when Begich won a clear victory, and the four decade era of Ted Stevens ended, the door firmly shut tight. She will undoubtedly be looking for another door. The three that may open up next are:

  • The Don Young Door – Congressman Don Young will be up for re-election in 2010, but may be out before then. He’s already spend a whopping 1.2 million dollars on legal fees in anticipation of his own coming indictment. Alaskans have been waiting for that shoe to drop for a while now….and it’s coming. It’s just a question of when. Look for headlines coming soon to a paper near you, now that Alaska politics has wormed its way into the national consciousness. But even if Young survives this, his 19th term in Congress, I don’t think Sarah Palin is gunning for his job. I just don’t think Congress is her style.
  • The Lisa Murkowski Door – Now we’re talking. Sarah unseated Lisa’s father Frank Murkowski when she became governor in 2006. This would be the second Murkowski trophy head on her wall. Murkowski hasn’t done a bad job in most Republican’s minds, but she hasn’t knocked their socks off either. It’s not a sure thing by any means that she’d be able to hold her seat against Palin. And the Senate, as we have just witnessed, can be an effective stepping stone to the Presidency, which is what Palin is gunning for in the long run. That’s the door she thinks God will open for her – the big fat door to the Oval Office. She’s “wired for the mission” and would be ready to run in 2012, or 2016.
  • The Direct Door to the Presidency – If Palin can hold on to office for another term, she may be banking on her national celebrity, and name recognition, and her Christian conservative buddies in high places to take her from the governorship to Pennsylvania Avenue…or so she hopes. She’s up for re-election in 2010. And who knows…she may feel fully qualified by that point to throw her hat in the ring anyway.

And what about Ted Stevens, and his suddenly awkward and very visible namesake – The Ted Stevens International Airport. Before we break out the chisels and hammers, the Anchorage Assembly and the Public Facilities Advisory Commission, and who knows who else, will have to do some political soul searching, and have lots of meetings.

Stevens’ legal appeal process moves forward, and he’ll fight tooth and nail, like he always does. And amazingly, he is still eligible, despite his seven felony convictions, for his senate pension of $122,000 a year, courtesy of taxpayers. Although there is a recently-passed federal law that prohibits felons from collecting on these pensions, Stevens’ particular felonies were not on the list, and they were committed before the law went into effect. Maybe next time.





Palin’s Future in the Gop.

17 11 2008

I hesitate sometimes to call the Republican Party, the G.O.P. Grand Old Party….it just doesn’t seem to fit. Old, maybe, but hardly grand these days. I continue to call it that because it’s shorter, easier to type, and if you pronounce the acronym in your head when you read it, it’s amusing. Gop. The party has given me and many others such heartburn over the last eight years, that if thinking “gop” when we read G.O.P. brings a smile, then so be it. They owe us.

I’ve been watching the Sarah Palin “Victory Tour” with much amusement. Never has a failed Vice Presidential candidate with such high negative ratings done so little for so many for so LONG after they should have been home licking their wounds.

In the great piece by Frank Rich in yesterday’s New York Times, he notes:

Palin’s manic post-election publicity tour, which may yet propel her and “the first dude” to “Dancing With the Stars,” is almost a parody of the McCain ad likening Obama to Paris and Britney. Anyone who says so is promptly called out for sexism by the P.C. police of the newly “feminist” G.O.P.

At the risk of being so reviled, let me point out that in the marathon of Palin interviews last week, the single most revealing exchange had nothing to do with her wardrobe or the “jerks” , as she called them, around McCain. It came instead when Wolf Blitzer of CNN asked for some substance by inviting her to suggest “one or two ideas” that Republicans might have to offer. “Well, a lot of Republican governors have really good ideas for our nation,” she responded, without specifying anything except that “it’s all about free enterprise and respecting equality.” Well, yes, but surely there’s some actual new initiative worth mentioning, Blitzer followed up. “Gah!” replied the G.O.P.’s future. “Nothing specific right now!”

The good news for Democrats is a post-election Gallup poll finding that while only 45 percent of Americans want to see Palin have a national political future (and 52 percent of Americans do not), 76 percent of Republicans say bring her on.

And in the mean time, those other GOPers (goppers?) in government are having second thoughts about Ms. Palin. There were grumblings and mumblings from the Republican Governors’ Conference, whining that Palin was getting all the media attention and she didn’t actually say anything. The eye-rolling and squirming in chairs was palpable.

Newt Gingrich yesterday denied that Palin would be the new standard bearer going in to 2012. Instead, after saying with a straight face that Palin was “wonderfully intelligent”, he went on to explain that there would most likely be 20 or 30 representatives that would carry the sedan chair filled with GOP ideals through the desert and into the future.

Sunday, after the Alaskan governor completed an intense week of media appearances despite her ticket’s decisive defeat, Gingrich was trying to play her down some.

“I think that she will be a significant player,” Gingrich says, “But she is going to be one of 20 or 30 signficant players. She’s not going to be the party’s de facto leader.”

Gingrich’s incomplete list of potential party leaders may be somewhat inflated. But it is interesting that the former House member agrees with many GOP backers that the desperately needed new leadership will come from the ranks of the 21 surviving Republican governors that have produced two of the last three GOP presidents.

Gingrich added: “She’s going to be a much bigger story in the short run. But, I think, as she goes back to being governor and as she works in Alaska, you’re going to see a group of governors emerge, not just Sarah Palin.”

While the dilution begins, I’m thinking Sarah Palin may not be the GOP’s best friend, she may be the Democrats’.





Ahhhhh….. This Makes Me Feel Better.

12 11 2008

I’ve been having mental whiplash since the election.  I vacillate between thinking that somehow, some way, Sarah Palin is going to use her voodoo magic to end up in the White House, and then thinking that there is no more certain way to engender the implosion of the Republican Party than to get her on the ticket.  And back and forth my brain goes, like it was watching a tennis match.

So, I really liked stumbling across this article by Frank Shaeffer, a recovered Republican operative who blogs on Huffington Post.

Who voted for McCain/Palin in bigger numbers than they even voted for Bush/Cheney? Only one shrinking group: uneducated white folks in the deep south and a few folks in Appalachia. Take away the white no-college-backwoods-and/or-southern McCain/Palin vote and the Republicans would have been approaching single digit electoral college oblivion.

Sarah Palin will never hold national office nor will any Republican at the presidential level for a long time to come. Why? Because America has uneducated jerks in it but is not a nation of uneducated jerks. The Republicans are done, hoisted on the petard of their own “southern strategy.”

The Republican Party is only a step away from becoming the fringe of the fringe, identified more with cross-burning weirdos wearing hoods, folks like the Alaska secessionist party, all those gun owners stocking up on assault weapons before the “Socialist/United Nations/Obama/Muslim” conspiracy comes to fruition, than with anything remotely like a serious national political force.

The Republican Party–and I speak as a former lifelong Republican who, up through the 2000 primary campaign supported John McCain and even worked for him by arguing his case on various conservative and religious radio stations–is now the toy of the Rush Limbaugh windbags. These folks include outright crazies (such as Sarah Palin’s Assemblies of God pals who are waiting for Spaceship Jesus to rescue them and/or rooting out “witches” from their midst), white racists and a few not-very-bright attention seekers, including Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity etc.

[snip]

What’s the best defense against the rube/Palin voters derailing the Republican Party forever? If the statistics of who voted for whom are correct, the education of white people in the deep South and their economic empowerment is the best answer. Maybe it will take a black Democratic president to figure out some affirmative action program that can get our southern born-again white underclass into colleges and thereby save the Republican party.

Don’t you feel better too?

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Palin and the Crack in the Door.

12 11 2008

door

Alaska, bar the door! Here’s the latest little gem from Governor Sarah Palin. For six weeks we couldn’t get her to talk, and now we can’t get her to stop!

“You know, I have — faith is a very big part of my life. And putting my life in my creator’s hands — this is what I always do. I’m like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I’m like, don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is. Even if it’s cracked up a little bit, maybe I’ll plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it, but don’t let me miss an open door. And if there is an open door in ’12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door.”

Can somebody out there help me shove this huge heavy dresser over there in front of that door? EErrrrrgggghhhh.

For more thoughts on Palin’s crack in the door, the Alaska vote, and the future of convicted Senator Ted Stevens, check out Rachel Maddow and her guest, fellow Alaskan blogger and radio journalist Shannyn Moore! Here’s the LINK.

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The Bumper Sticker That Makes My Head Hurt.

9 11 2008

My mother is a die-hard Democrat.  A while ago, she called me and told me how upset she was at Rush Limbaugh. I asked her why on Earth she was listening to Rush Limbaugh, and she said, “Know your enemy.”  Taking this maternal advice to heart, I decided to subscribe to the Human Events newsletter. That’s Newt Gingrich’s little pet project, and it features writing from the likes of Ann Coulter.

I read this newsletter, so you don’t have to, and frankly most of the time there really isn’t much to say about it.  It’s a steady stream of reactionary fear-mongering drivel, occasionally punctuated with hateful diatribe, and sprinkled with ignorance.  But this particular newsletter almost made me choke on my tongue.  Behold the Republican Grand Strategy:

keep_the_change_2

I’ll keep my guns, freedom, and money. You can keep “the change!” Vote Sarah Palin for President in 2012! The Liberal Media wants you to think that Sarah Palin held John McCain back. We all know that John McCain’s campaign surged ahead because of Sarah. She’s a rising star in the GOP and could easily defeat Barack Obama in 2012! The Palin Revolution is about to break out and you can be on the cutting edge with this clever new bumper sticker! This 2-PACK includes one for each of your vehicles, whether it’s your gas guzzlin’ SUV, pick-up truck, or “hockey mom” minivan!

Wow.  I really didn’t make any of that up, I promise.  Not even the part about “your gas guzzlin’ SUV”.  Not only is Sarah Palin a parody of herself, but now it’s the whole Human Events team.  I still don’t know if I want to fight Palin 2012 with every fiber of my being, or whether her candidacy would be the final salvo that would shatter the hull of the GOP and sent it plummeting to the bottom of the ocean.





So, What’s Next for Sarah Palin?

5 11 2008

palin-183

Sarah Palin has taken the collective soul of national politics, divided and conquered. In eight short weeks, a political unknown from Alaska went from hockey mom Governor, to national megastar, and finally came to rest with the simultaneous titles of “Conservative Rising Star” and “Most Feared Woman in America”. It’s been quite a ride.

Alaskans are sitting here wondering exactly what will happen. A political hush has fallen on the land. There’s been a lot happening up here while our Governor was whisked away to tour the nation, soak up the limelight in front of cheering crowds, and get a taste of political life outside her borders. She was confident, she told us. Confident in her readiness. She was wired for the mission. And no one who was paying attention would argue that point.

But, what IS the mission? When Palin was asked, months before her selection as the VP running mate for John McCain, if she was interested in the position, she came back with her now famous quote, “I’d have to know what it is that the VP does every day.” But, she then went on to say that she would need to know that the position would be “fruitful, especially for Alaska.” She finished up the interview by saying, “This job is pretty cool too.” That made Alaskans feel good. It made us feel like our Governor was special enough to be considered for a spot on the presidential ticket, but wans’t interested in all that. She was thinking of us first, and her commitment to the people of Alaska.

Then a strange transformation began to happen before our eyes. After the surprise nomination, and the subsequent campaigning, our hometown girl started acting differently. Maybe it was the crowds, maybe it was the taste of power, maybe it was Neiman Marcus. But suddenly here was our governor talking about expanding the powers of the Vice President, dropping tens of thousands of dollars in other people’s money on fancy clothes, smearing local politicians and public servants back home, and dropping hints that she’s entered the national scene and may not want to leave, at least for the long term. That was a lot to take for many Alaskans.

We sort of feel like the high school sweetheart whose steady girlfriend went off to the big city and found somebody better, somebody more worldly, somebody with more money, and dropped us like a hot potato. Only now he broke up with her, and she’s on her way back. Awkward.

It remains to be seen if Alaska, the jilted boyfriend will take Sarah back. There are lots of fences to be mended, and relationship counseling in our future. While there are many Sarah fans who will welcome her back with open arms, there are many who have turned their back, and others who feel downright vengeful. It will be a tangled knot to untie.

The Alaska Legislature upon whose bipartisan support Palin depended to actually accomplish things is now fractured. She never had solid Republican support, and depended heavily on friendly Democrats…friendly Democrats that she didn’t think twice about throwing under the bus during the Troopergate investigation. Keep in mind that when I refer to “the Troopergate investigation”, I mean the real one, conducted by the Alaska State Legislature. I don’t mean the one that Palin instigated herself, to investigate herself, to clear herself which was conducted by a 3-person board, appointed by the governor, that reports to Palin herself. Just so we’re clear on that point.

Chances are, too, that the very engaged, very motivated Obama supporters in Alaska were not too pleased with our Governor as she whipped crowds across the nation into a froth about their candidate “palling around with terrorists (plural),” resulting in shouts of “Kill him” and “Terrorist”. We now learn that Palin decided to bring Bill Ayers into the picture without clearing it with the McCain campaign, and that the Secret Service reported an upsurge in threats against the President Elect and his family right around the time that Palin began amping up the divisive rhetoric.

And don’t forget, Palin asked for Republican Senator, and Alaska political icon Ted Stevens to step down after his seven felony convictions for failure to disclose gifts on his Senate disclosure forms. This may seem like an eminently rational thing to do, but remember that Stevens is currently out front in this hotly debated Senate race. The results are so close, we won’t know for two weeks whether Alaskans have indeed elected an 84-year old convicted felon to the U.S. senate. But about half of Alaskans like him enough, despite that fact, to vote for him anyway. This is Stevens country, and Uncle Ted’s troops will be looking at Palin with a critical eye when she pops back into our lives, after shoving him on to the ice floe in front of the nation.

This is the new Sarah Palin, who went from an approval rating hovering at 90% after her election, to inspiring the largest political rally in the history of Alaska – not a rally to congratulate her, but a rally to demand that she come clean with her promise of “open, honest, and transparent” government. And then there was the second-biggest political rally – Alaska Women Reject Palin. And the third biggest – Alaskans for Obama. Any way you look at it, there is now a rabid, engaged group of considerable size that opposes Palin with every fiber of their being, where there used to be none at all.

But, this is also the same Palin who got a hundred or so supporters to line the streets in Wasilla before daybreak to wave signs as her motorcade passed on the way to the airport to join John McCain after she voted in Wasilla on the morning of the 4th. And this is the same Sarah Palin on the presidential ticket that won the state of Alaska handily, despite the amazing organization of the opposition.

Palin has sliced her state down the middle and polarized her constituents in a way that I would not have imagined possible just a few months ago. The majority of Alaskans still support her, but her negative ratings have soared as Alaskans and the rest of the country have gotten to know her, and her political life will not be the cake walk it once was. And there are many investigations, and skeletons in the closet that are just beginning to emerge.

As for her future aspirations? She refuses to give a clear cut answer about 2012, saying that “Oh, you know, it seems like so far.” But Palin has tipped her hand as a political opportunist, and as one who has tasted power, celebrity and adoring crowds, and she likes what she sees. How will she handle going back to li’l old Wasilla? It’s anyone’s guess.

Her next opportunity to move upward on the national politial scene comes if Ted Stevens is elected, and subsequently expelled by the Senate. She is not able to appoint herself or anyone else to the seat, but she is eligible to run for that seat in a special election. Failing that, the next window of opportunity comes in 2010, when Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski is up for re-election, as is Republican Congressman Don Young. It is also the year she would run for her next term as Governor. There are many options, but there is a lot of ground to cover between now and then.

Has she so damaged herself politically in the state, that she will become an ineffective Governor, and one-term wonder? Has her foray into national politics captured the imagination of the people so much that they will want to see her back in DC, perhaps making her own presidential bid? Has the national Christian Conservative base found their dream girl? Or has the country, perhaps, in its landslide election of President Elect Obama shown itself to have evolved beyond the culture wars, and to have transcended the divisive politics of the past which Palin has now come to symbolize for so many.

It may be that Palin has found her national niche, but that this niche, with the help of a two-term Bush presidency and a weary nation, has proven too narrow to wield any actual power in turning a national election. Whatever the outcome, there is no question that Sarah Palin has been let out of the box.