It’s taken me this long to actually pull my head together after John McCain’s selection of Alaska’s governor, Sarah Palin, as his running mate.
I made no secret of saying that I was pulling for Mitt Romney. I thought he posed the best balance for McCain, with his strengths coinciding quite nicely with McCain’s weaknesses. But I have a hard time finding fault with McCain’s choice.
Governor Palin is, by pretty much any standard of measurement, a remarkable woman.
And you know she’s got something right going on when you hear the Obamoids are already tearing her down — and in the process, trying to sell the public a bunch of half-truths, slurs, and outright fabrications.
Let’s take a look at a few of the ones already being tossed around:
Palin is inexperienced, has less experience than Senator Obama. That depends on your definition of “experience.” On paper, purely by the calendar, it’s true.
But what matters to me is not quantity of time, but quality. What Palin has achieved in her political career dwarfs Obama’s accomplishments, as well as those of a lot of other politicians with a lot more time in office.
In 2002, she ran for lieutenant governor, and lost. As an apparent “consolation prize,” she was appointed Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. There, she made an incredibly stupid rookie mistake — she took her job seriously. She actually investigated and brought action against corrupt politicians of both parties. And when the corrupt faction of the Republicans blocked her from going after their cronies, she issued a scorching resignation that named names — names that ended up paying very hefty fines for misconduct.
Palin then used that as a springboard to clean up the state overall, and ran for governor against the incumbent Republican. Frank Murkowski. Astonishingly, she beat him in the primary and won the right to take on the Democratic nominee, former governor Tony Knowles. Knowles had the experience and outspent her mightily, but she still beat him by over seven percentage points.
That’s right. She took out a sitting governor AND a former governor.
So, what has she done since she took office two scant years ago? Well, for one, she promised to cut the state’s budget and lower taxes. Some of the things she did was to put the state’s airplane up for sale on EBay. She also looked at the 30-year-long fight over the Trans-Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline and blew her way through the last obstacles. She shaved almost a quarter of a billion dollars off the state’s budget. She fought against a bunch of pork-barrel earmarks for the state.
One place she failed: she backed the Republican challenger for indicted Senator Ted Stevens. Stevens won that primary.
She also passed some significant ethics reforms, further burnishing her reputation as a fighter of corruption.
With her two years in the governorship, along with her prior four years of mayor of Wasilla, Palin has more executive experience than any of the other three people on the national ticket. She has more than all of them combined. All have spent their entire careers as legislators.
Oh and Senators Obama and Biden? Palin has also served as Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard for two years. Would you care to cite your own quasi-military records?
Palin is currently under investigation for ethics violations. True.
But as with the “inexperience” myth, a bit of digging uncovers that the investigation is actually showing Palin out to be the good guy, the “victim” here. And luckily for me, I don’t have to do the digging — others have done far, far better than I could have.
The investigation was initiated by the same faction of corrupt Republicans that Palin has been fighting — and beating — for years now. And thus far, the investigators have reported that Palin has cooperated fully in every aspect of their digging into a very sordid family affair — one that involved what appears to be a power-drunk state trooper married to Palin’s sister relying on cronyism and the old-boy network to stay on the job and out of trouble.
Palin has no foreign-policy experience, and no real experience outside her own state. True.
But that, while technically true, ignores that Alaska is a unique state. Like Hawaii, it shares no borders with any other states — that’s why they other states are often called “the contiguous 48.” But unlike Hawaii, Alaska does have two borders.
One of them is with Canada, the United States’ biggest trading partner. Further, Canada is Alaska’s land lifeline to the rest of the United States. Dealing with Canadian officials is, I strongly suspect, one of the bigger duties of the Alaskan government.
As a state with a border with another nation (albeit a tiny one — I think New Hampshire very well might have the distinction of “shortest foreign border” among the states, alongside our “shortest seacoast”), I know that relations between our state and Canada — both the nation as a whole and the province of Quebec — is something that is regularly discussed and carefully maintained.
And just across a few short miles of water and ice is Russia, Alaska’s former owner and — currently — a rather unfriendly and acquisitive superpower. That can’t be far from the mind of Alaska’s leaders.
As far as national issues, Alaska has been at the center of discussion about our energy policy — its oil reserves are stupendous, as is its energy production.
Oh, and remember the fighting over whether or not to tap the oil reserves in ANWR? That’s the ALASKAN National Wildlife Refuge.
So, while I still think that Romney would have been a superb vice-president, I have to say that Palin brings some things to the table that would help a McCain administration succeed. She has staunch conservative credentials, so she could be counted on to counsel McCain on important matters. She has a solid history of sticking up for principles and integrity, even (or, perhaps, especially) against fellow Republicans, so she wouldn’t be likely to be silenced. And she has shown that she will put principles and integrity above her own interests, when she resigned as Ethics Commissioner, so she’s not very likely to back down when confronted with what she believes to be wrongdoings.
All in all, a very, very interesting choice for McCain — who is showing considerable self-confidence in putting someone as strong-willed and determined in as his heir apparent. I think we just might have a winning ticket here.