Alaska’s “hottie” Republican governor, Sarah Palin, is a character straight out of the now defunct television classic Northern Exposure. This former beauty queen is ethical to the point where it almost cost her a political career, filing accusations of ethics violations against some of the most important Alaskan Republican officials. She has become an antidote to tales of woe and Republican corruption that seem to find their way out of Alaska in an almost weekly basis. Refreshingly honest, Palin, 43, even admits that when marijuana was legal in Alaska, she tried it, inhaled, but did not like it!
Currently, after a year in office, Palin has an 84% approval rating. This is in keeping with her ‘humiliating’ defeat of seated governor Frank Murkowski in a bitter 2006 primary where the almost unknown Palin received 51% of the vote while Governor Murkowski received only 19%. Political commentator Larry Sabato, Director of the University of Virginia’s Center of Politics remarked that Murkowski’s defeat was “literally almost unprecedented for someone who is not indicted.” While Murkowski was not indicted, his administration and his personal life was plagued with allegations of corruption, gifts, and dirty tricks.
Palin’s first months in office have not been easy. Presiding over a Republican Party rife with accusations of corruption, many of them focusing on the state’s senior US Senator, Ted Stevens, Palin has served with grace and poise. In May, three former state legislators were indicted on corruption charges that stem from the repealing of the state’s oil tax and the creation of one which was more favorable to the oil industry. Palin has now called for a special session of the state legislature to meet in October. During that time she will ask for a new tax to compensate for the $150 million shortfall the ‘new’ tax has created.
Sarah Palin’s new tax hike is in keeping with her maverick reputation. She is now being promoted as a possible GOP candidate for Vice President in 2008. Will this proposed tax hike hurt her within conservative circles? She is a life-time member of the National Rifle Association, and strongly pro-life. A devout Christian, she completes the “maverick” image by maintaining openly gay friendships and implementing same-sex benefits for the state. According to Fred Barnes, there are those in Alaska who are not comfortable with her strong faith.
In a recent Fred Barnes profile in the Weekly Standard, Barnes quotes Dan Fagan, an Anchorage radio talk show host. “"She's as Alaskan as you can get. She's a hockey mom, she lives on a lake, she ice fishes, she snowmobiles, she hunts, she's an NRA member, she has a float plane, and her husband works for BP on the North Slope," Fagan says. Todd Palin, her high school sweetheart, is a three-time winner of the 2,000-mile Iron Dog snowmobile race from Wasilla to Nome to Fairbanks. It's the world's longest snowmobile race.
Too Good to be True
Family is very important to Sarah Palin. The mother of four children, Bristol, Piper, Track, and Willow, is also a former high school basketball champ. A journalist by training, and graduate of the University of Idaho, Palin worked in the media before entering politics. Her bio reads like the typical “mom” with service organizations that include PTA, sports coach, and youth hockey team manager. She has worked with husband Todd, an Alaska native, as a commercial fisherman. When not single-handedly trying to end corruption in Alaska, raise her family, and govern the largest state in the US, Palin runs marathons!
Her favorite meal includes either mooseburgers or moose stew because, according to one interview, "they taste better than beef with no chemicals, steroids or hormones.” She is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and was the second runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant.
Just What the Doctor Ordered?
There is no argument that the GOP, nationally, has many problems. Aside from the ongoing claims of corruption, greatly exaggerated by Democrat opponents for political gain and headlines, there is almost a malaise within the conservative ranks. Factions of the party have begun to think only inside the box, closing their minds to new ideas and new ways of seeing things.
According to Dimitri Vassilaros' recent Tribune-Review profile of Palin, she could be the answer to many of the problems facing the Republican Party nationally.
1. She vetoed nearly a third of the earmarks GOP legislators put in the stage budget.
2. While against same-sex unions she vetoed a bill prohibiting such unions because the state supreme court said it was unconstitutional.
3. Palin feels the private sector can do better than government.
4. She is a crusading ‘corruption’ buster.
5. She has signed a bill on ethics and disclosures
6. Unlike many conservatives she is interested in preserving the environment
7. She is interested in the Native peoples of Alaska.
Palin’s interest in Alaska’s Native Heritage may be the perfect antidote for a Republican Party wrecked by perceived conservative bigotry against Hispanics via their failure to approve workable immigration reform. The GOP is in serious danger of losing a large amount of the Hispanic vote. Palin’s almost fanatical interest in Alaska’s Native Heritage may help to heal the gaping wound within the Hispanic community.
If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Nominee in 2008, and every indication points to that fact, the GOP is going to need to counter her nomination creatively and realize that the era of the ever-present “white male” has come to a merciful end. The Republican Party must, in order to make up for the immigration debacle and perceived racism and bigotry, do something to raise the profile of women and minorities on the national ticket.
Hillary Clinton’s greatest challenge is the fact that, while her husband was a four-term governor of Arkansas, she has not been the chief executive of a state. She has served within her husband’s Administration as one of his primary advisors and has served in the United States Senate. No United States Senator has been elected President since John F. Kennedy was elected in 1960.
Having a seated governor on the ticket would be a major plus for the GOP which will be fighting an admittedly up-hill battle. Having someone like Sarah Palin on the ticket might be “just the ticket”. Not only is she a seated governor, but she is very pretty, has the "perfect" family, a very handsome husband, and is a walking photo-op.
If Sarah Palin is not on the ticket in 2008, watch for her to be running for POTUS in one of the next few elections. She is relatively young, has national ambitions, and is, in all likelihood, the new face of the GOP.