So, What’s Next for Sarah Palin?

5 11 2008

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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.

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What the VP Does…Every Day.

21 10 2008

I remember when this clip first came out:

That’s when I sat here smugly, thinking, “Well, there goes THAT!” We had heard rumors about Palin being on the short list for VP, but this clip cemented it in my head. Nobody, I mean NObody could possibly pick this woman who actually admitted on camera that they have no idea what the VP does. It would be political suicide! She’d be a mockery, and so would the one who picked her! (chuckling) Whew! Case closed.

At the time this interview was done, there had been plenty of talk up here about Sarah Palin as a potential VP. She knew about this…it wasn’t just a question she was asked out of the blue.

So, if you knew that you were being considered for the position of Vice President of the United States, AND you realized that you did not in fact know what the responsibilities of the postition were, wouldn’t you…I don’t know… look it up?   Just out of curiosity?  It’s not like the job responsibilities are tucked away in some dusty book vault, and you have to apply for a permit to get in and research it.  It’s all right there in the Constitution. 

Not bothering to figure it out, and saying that “someone will have to explain to me” goes beyond intellectual laziness. It’s intellectual disinterest.

OK, now imagine that you were actually chosen to be your party’s VP nominee. You still haven’t found out what the job responsibilities are…you’d better get with it! You can either Google “US Constituion” or check out the Wikipedia entry, or you could ask somebody, because you’re now surrounded by people who ought to know these kinds of things. Here’s WIkipedia.

The formal powers and role of the vice president are limited by the Constitution to becoming President should the President become unable to serve (e.g. due to the death, resignation, or medical impairment of the President) and acting as the presiding officer of the U.S. Senate. As President of the Senate, the Vice President has two primary duties: to cast a vote in the event of a Senate deadlock to cast a vote in the event of a Senate deadlock and to preside over and certify the official vote count of the U.S. Electoral College. For example, in the first half of 2001, the Senators were divided 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats and Dick Cheney’s tie-breaking vote gave the Republicans the Senate majority.

The informal roles and functions of the Vice President depend on the specific relationship between the President and the Vice President, but often include drafter and spokesperson for the administration’s policy, as an adviser to the president, as Chairman of the Board of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as a Member of the board of the Smithsonian and as a symbol of American concern or support.

Read that again, if you need to.  Got it?  OK, here’s Sarah Palin’s take on that.

Aw, that’s something that Piper would ask me, as a second grader, also. That’s a great question, Brandon, and a Vice President has a really great job, because no only are they there to support the President agenda, they’re like a team member, the team mate to that President. But also, they’re in charge of the United States Senate, so if they want to they can really get in there with the Senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom. And it’s a great job and I look forward to having that job.

That’s a question that Piper would ask?  Ahem…Governor?  That’s a question YOU would ask!  (See first video)

I think she must have just seen the words “President of the Senate” and then…..(cue harp music..everything goes gauzy and sparkly, as Sarah Palin walks into the Senate chambers with a big bull whip, clacking down the aisle in her shiny red pumps, and sliding in to the throne President’s seat….)  No need to read further.  Why ruin it?

Besides her obvious lack of qualification for the main duty of the VP (be ready to become President), there’s one Vice Presidential duty of which I was actually unaware, and frankly,  it makes me a little concerned. The Vice President is Chairman of the Board of NASA?  So, if she wins, Sarah Palin would literally be in charge of a board of rocket scientists? The mind reels. But there is one duty listed above in which she has already proven herself more than qualified. I think we can all safely say that Sarah Palin has truly become a “symbol of American concern.”

As I watched that second video, I was trying to figure out what the heck she was wearing…  It looked like some kind of plastic, red, zip-up thing.  Was it some kind of retro 80s thing?  Was she afraid it was going to start raining in the studio?  Was it the prototype for the new Republicanized NASA jumpsuit?    What WAS that??  Then I come to find out, it’s a brand new red leather jacket purchased for her by the Republican National Committee, along with the rest of the Palin family’s new $150,000 wardrobe.  Yes, they spent campaign money to deck out the Palins in some fancy new duds.  Joe Sixpack eat your heart out!   Guess she liked that jacket so much, she left it on for the interview.  Think she’ll sleep in it?

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Palin Rumored to Be Giving Interview

7 09 2008

My friends, the transformation is almost complete.  After sequestration with Joe Lieberman and the rest of the Republican political brain surgeons, the new and improved Sarah Palin, head now full of fun new facts about foreign policy, international relations, and the economy is nearly ready for her formal debut.

Rumor has it that she will be granting her very first interview since her selection as John McCain’s running mate on August 29th.  The lucky winner?  ABC news and Charles Gibson.  When?  Some time in midweek.  Where?  In Alaska, believe it or not.  This interview, which falls nearly two full weeks after her selection, far exceeds the amount of time taken by any other candidate in history to speak off script. It still comes earlier than many expected.

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said Sunday that Palin would be made available “when we think it’s time and when she feels comfortable doing it.”

So, apparently, no thanks to all of us, Palin has somehow reached the level of personal comfort necessary to speak to the American people without a script.  Has she memorized enough 3×5 cards full of talking points to pull it off?  Will Charles Gibson throw softballs, or will he ask actual questions about her record, her preparedness, and her policy?  Will she crumble in front of our very eyes?  Or will the newly dubbed ‘Caribou Barbie’ live to fight another day?

The news of the interview was leaked under condition of anonymity, so we’ll have to wait and see how the details materialize.  But it does seem to indicate that her flight north will come in the next couple of days.  It also indicates that Alaskans may be running into Charles Gibson at Jammin’ Java in downtown Anchorage, or having a cold one at the Moose’s Tooth Pizza Pub. 

When will she actually have a press conference?  According to Davis, not “until the point in time when she’ll be treated with respect and deference”.  When the Republicans make THAT call is anyone’s guess.





Palin Sunday Funnies.

7 09 2008

Behold, Caribou Barbie from the fine folks at College OTR

Comes with everything you see here:  Dead caribou, M-16, snowmobile, sexy librarian glasses.  She even talks with such phrases as: “I’m a pit bull with lipstick!” “My family is off-limits” and “What is it that the VP actually does?”

  • There’s a Facebook group with 26,000 members called “I have more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin.” Members talk about living next to Greeks or studying Spanish. You need an account to visit the spot.

 

  • Best joke of the week:  What’s the difference between Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney?     Lipstick.

 

The Gotcha Award:  Karl Rove talking about Obama’s potential VP selection, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

This one gets me every time.  Watch the explanatory hand gestures and finger pointing.  It makes it much easier to understand the concept.

Enjoy!  I’m off for a day of zen…





Palin on the Honor System. No Subpoena. Yet.

5 09 2008

Alaska legislators are preparing to issue subpoenas as part of an investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin’s handling of the “Troopergate” affair, but Palin herself won’t be hit with one.

State Sen. Hollis French, the Anchorage Democrat who is managing the probe into Palin’s firing of her former public safety commissioner, said legislators decided not to subpoena Palin as a gesture to calm what has become a tense standoff between the Legislature and the newly minted Republican vice presidential nominee.

“We’re trying to de-escalate the situation. We just want the truth, clear the air,” French said.

However, legislators still want their investigator to interview Palin.

Hollis French, who was just interviewed on KUDO progressive talk radio in Anchorage said, “The governor says she will cooperate, and we have no reason to disbelieve her.  She’s said it 6, 7, 8 times.  She’s said it so many times, it seems illogical that she wouldn’t show up.”  When asked what would happen if she did refuse to testify, he said, “We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it.”  (*Note to Senator French – Please…no bridge metaphors.)

French also expressed disgust at Frank Baily, the Palin staffer who refused to show up for his scheduled deposition, noting that he’s currently on paid administrative leave and is “making $78,000 a year while he sits home,” refusing to testify and winning the prize for most irritating use of government funds in the state of Alaska.

State Senator Johnny Ellis (well respected and bipartisan) also made an appearance on KUDO, and stated that he firmly believed that no vetting process had happened.  He was in contact with anyone who’s anyone in Republican circles, and no one was contacted about anything.  Only Palin’s lawyer has claimed to have been contacted by the McCain camp, but never specified whether it was before or after she was selected.  He wrapped it up by saying that he felt if we asked ourselves the question in our heart of hearts, no matter how we may feel about Palin personally, she is definitely not qualified to be the commander in chief, and leader of the free world.





Palin Vetting Documents from 2006. For Hard Core Palin Addicts Only.

5 09 2008

In 2006, when Sarah Palin ran for Governor of Alaska, the Democrats (unlike the Republicans of 2008) vetted her. The documentation is extensive, and was published online.

Recently, the link from various websites including Politico to the documents went dead. Then it came back. Then it went dead. Then it came back. You get the idea. Considering the tendency for things to vanish these days, and thanks to a reader of Mudflats, you may now peruse the document in its entirety below.

It’s 63 pages, so be warned. I suggest using the table of contents on page two to guide you on this “more than you ever wanted to know about Palin tour.” I wonder how long McCain’s document was?

palin-2006-vetting





Hillary’s Mad…This Oughtta Be Good.

4 09 2008

When I heard, on Friday that Hillary Clinton had commented on the Palin nomination, I was ready for it. I’m not sure what I was expecting but when I heard her, I almost choked. I was expecting something forceful, something strong and assertive, something…well…Hillary. Instead was a lukewarm congratulations.

Gulp.

Perhaps Hillary was as much in shock as the rest of us, and needed a little time to regroup. I’ve been drumming my fingers, waiting for the regrouping to be complete, and honestly, I was starting to worry a little. The Clintons have the power to make people nervous. You never know quite what they’re up to. But the New York Times reported that Hillary’s miffed, and miffed big time.

Mrs. Clinton’s friends said she was galled that Ms. Palin might try to capitalize on a movement that Mrs. Clinton, of New York, built among women in the primaries.

Clinton advisers said they expected that a bloc of her female supporters would give Mr. McCain a second look because of Ms. Palin, and that Mrs. Clinton was probably Mr. Obama’s best weapon in response.

So back Hillary goes to the “Rust Belt” states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, presumably to talk some sense into the women who are considering a vote for Palin based upon matching body parts. I’d like to think that women as a collective are way smarter than that, but there’s no harm in bringing out the big gun if she’s willing and able.

Now, if the Republican Convention would hurry up and be over with, we can get on to the real campaigning. Obama/Biden, for the first time broke the 50% barrier in national polling, garnering an 8 point lead over McCain/Palin. The polls were taken over the weekend, so at least initially, the Palin pick showed no bounce. She may see a bouncelet after her acceptance speech last night. She speaks with energy, and sincerity, and as it has been said, “Sarah Palin will look you straight in the eye and tell you black is white.” She dazzled in comparison to the parade of wrinkly old white guys that preceded her, but the effect may not last through the media vetting, and the debate with Joe Biden. And there are many more scandals coming down the pike.

So Hillary, come out, come out, wherever you are!