From the moment our governor became a national figure, our state has been governed differently. Differently from how Palin had performed her job up to that time. And differently from the approaches any of her predecessors had taken.
The timing of the Legislative Council's Branchflower Investigation helped begin to define how different the post-selection Palin administration would be. The O'Callaghan-Stapleton Truth Squad, and its take-no-prisoner approach to diverting what had been a bipartisan investigation about fact-finding, into a far right jihad against some of the legislators involved in the initial council vote, was immediately a low point in Alaska history. Many recognized it as such.
From the huge, sometimes overtly racist and homophobic crowds at her rallies, to her ineptitude in unscripted situations, to the growing friction between her handlers and McCain's, as the presidential campaign failed in front of the entire world, Alaskans were being held hostage.
The election that defeated McCain and Palin nationally, also brought some modest gains for Democrats and progressives in Alaska. The new bi-partisan makeup of the 2009-2010 Alaska Legislature might have been welcomed by the pre-August 29th Sarah Palin. But Palin's handlers appear to have felt that if she accommodated the body Alaskan elected, she would lose Iowa and New Hampshire in 2012. Consequently, this has been one of the most dismal legislative sessions in Alaska history.
There's more than enough blame to go around, but a large share of it rests squarely on the ongoing dissonance between Palin's executive branch employees and her 2012 campaign advisors. We're the hostages in this intramural spat.
Here's New York Times columnist Frank Rich, writing about Palin and Iowa today:
In 2008, 60 percent of Iowa’s Republican caucus voters were evangelical Christians. Mike Huckabee won. That’s the hurdle facing the party’s contenders in 2012, which is why Romney, Palin and Gingrich are now all more vehement anti-same-sex-marriage activists than Rick Warren. Palin even broke with John McCain on the issue during their campaign, supporting the federal marriage amendment that he rejects. This month, even as the father of Palin’s out-of-wedlock grandson challenged her own family values and veracity, she nominated as Alaskan attorney general a man who has called gay people “degenerates.” Such homophobia didn’t even play in Alaska — the State Legislature voted the nominee down — and will doom Republicans like Palin in national elections.
Rich and many Outsiders - and Alaskans as well - see Palin's choice of one divisive person after another, whether it be recent convert Tim Grussendorf, recent convert Joe Nelson, Clam Gulch set-netter Brent Johnson [please see the comments about my characterization of Mr. Johnson], or Wayne Anthony Ross, as moves aimed at the people of Iowa and New Hampshire, and to the Old South, rather than as actions designed to move Alaskans forward. Or, in Palinese, "To progress Alaskans...."
GOP activist, and architect of the immensely destructive Contract
Sarah Palin has an obvious role if she wants it. The question for her has to be, are she and her family willing to go through another couple of years of the kind of media coverage that they currently get? Is she willing to do the kind of development of national issues and development of a national profile that would be required? She is a celebrity in her own right. She is probably the most successful figure in the party right now, and she's a formidable figure. I think to go from there to becoming a national leader would take a significant amount of work.
The support is there. But possibly not in Alaska, at least to the degree her narrative seems to demand. When post-legislative session polls come out, her popularity in Alaska will probably be down around the mid-50s. But her base is as enraptured as ever. Here's from a comment attached to the Christianity Today article:
After seeing Palin's speech at the Right to Life event on Thursday, my respect for her has grown. Despite the 24/7 carpet bombing of her by the media, the DNC, the 0bama/Axelrod axis, and even those within her own party, she exuded confidence, spirit, and determination. She did not seem worn down by the attacks at all. Like she said, she's going to restart her engine. I suspect we will see a lot of her over the coming months, and if she performs like she did on Thursday, she'll be in a very good position. As for the substantial amount of work Gingrich mentioned, he and so others seem to forget is that she is not a wealthy person without a job who can pop up on TV every day, and attend events at will. She actually has a job to do.
And here's a comment attached to the Conservatives4Palin version of Videmus Omnia's article PA posted early yesterday:
I watched Sarah's Indiana speech just now. This lady is eloquence personified. I have been studying Demosthenes in the original Greek and Cicero in the original Latin for decades, so I have some experience with oratory: Our Sarah is a great orator. My eyes were not dry, and my right hand was going up in the military salute, as I watched her.
Within hours of Sarah's deliverance of her speech, I had an experience In BERKELEY that should give hope to all that the Holy Spirit, the Dove , is moving! A young woman, an African-American bank teller, remarked quietly that she liked my button, referring to the "Palin in 2012" button with Sarah's face that I wear everywhere. Minutes later outside the bank I met an African-American Vietnam vet: he told me that he had hoped Obama would win, but that now he was disillusioned. He called Sarah, " a nice lady," and said she had been treated unfairly. Remember all this was in BERKELEY, CA. Friends, a great giant is stirring.
Back to the hostage situation.
With the end of the 2009 legislative session, Gov. Palin will have more freedom to attend events in Iowa, Washington DC, Iowa, New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, Iowa, Texas and Iowa.
Will she continue to pander to the far right as she digs deeper into her base base?
Will she continue to mischaracterize Alaska, Alaskans, and her accomplishments here?
As the national narrative of expanded and more rational LBGTQ rights grows, will she move in that direction, or as the Ross nomination clearly indicated, in the other direction?
hat tips - The Mudflats for the Gingrich interview, and to Mudflats commenter wired differently for a link to Frank Rich's NYT column