In the wake of Alaska's soon-to-be-ex Gov. Sarah Palin's decision to actually quit her job - as opposed to working it part-time, as has been the case since the summer of 2008 - I've seen a new upwelling of comments from both the left and right, dissing Alaskans in general.
Ann Coulter has been the right's poster waif for this, calling either Juneau or Wasilla "Ulan Bator" (the capitol of Mongolia). Many sites on the left continue to describe the city I live in - Wasilla - as something less than it is.
Having blogged nationally since 2005 about the failings of Don Young and Ted Stevens; having touted notable progressive Alaskans such as Diane Benson and centrists such as Mark Begich nationally since 2006; I can say that Palin's pickup by McCain changed peoples' perception of us.
One can't but appreciate how much attention Sarah Palin has brought to Alaska and Alaskans. As inaccurate as that notice often is, we can use that heightened awareness in many realms untied to WTF she does next.
The person who realizes this best seems to be our junior U.S. Senator, Mark Begich. He's very new on the job, but the contrast between the way he is approaching his responsibilities and the continuing attentions toward Palin's polarizing and bizarre end-game will resonate with time.
The person who so far seems to realize this least is Palin's successor, Sean Parnell, who is going out of his way to parrot some of Palin's most untruthful recent positions. Maybe Parnell merely wants to keep from ruffling Her feathers, fearful She might change her mind.
Although I've had to reassess my fairly positive feelings about Palin's governance up to the early summer of 2008, I'm willing to admit that getting the AGIA process going, as flawed as it has come to seem, was a masterpiece of collaborative politics. That she had to throw any future chance of across-the-aisle legislation away as part of what she was willing to become as a national-level politician, is a small Alaska tragedy.
That sad transition is small, rather than large, because the seeds of becoming a right-wing demagogue were already there in Palin's personal and political makeup. The demands of being thrust into the role of being McCain's red meat for the 2008 far right crowds and fundraisers brought something out in her that was ready to grow. As someone who has known her now for almost 19 years, it was sometimes scary watching it finally happen.
We will now watch that far right seed mature.
Whatever, Alaska will never be the same.
image - Zina Saunders