Saturday, September 20, 2008

Palin sucker punches Alaska Legislature

Sarah Palin may have more in common with George Bush then even John McCain does. Her go-with-the-gut, slash and burn style of politics is eerily reminiscent of Bush. Palin's record as Governor in Alaska shows her to be a de-unifer; bulldozing through whoever gets in her way. John Britney, Palin's campaign policy direct and first legislative liaison described her this way:

"She tends to . . . create a situation where legislators are cornered -- going against her would be political suicide."

By way of example, consider Palin's actions against her state legislature this past April. Palin was frustrated because the Senate was thwarting a change she wanted to make in business license fees. Three days before the legislature went on recess, Palin's aides went through the Department of Commerce records to get e-mail addresses for nearly 23,000 Alaskan business owners. Palin then sent a mass email with her official portrait and the state seal urging recipients to contact their senator immediately and providing the contact information.

Palin's email infuriated State Senators. They insisted she had misused state records, violated privacy laws and an ethics rule forbidding Alaska's state employees to use information to which they have access for personal or political benefit. Palin insisted she had done nothing wrong and ultimately got her way: the legislature caved in and changed the license fee.

Palin seems to have little interest in working within or across party lines to get things done. Like Bush, she governs from the gut and often leaves those left in her wake feeling nauseous. Along with her bullying style, she seems incapable or unable to understandthe details of public policy. Larry Persily, former associate director of Palin's Washington DC office described her this way:

"She's not known for burning the midnight oil on in-depth policy issues."

Palin's actions as Governor also doesn't match up to the image she's cultivating for herself. Palin the fiscal reformer has actually increased state spending by about one-fifth since taking office. An advocate for public safety, she has been criticised for not providing enough money to the state police and public safety projects. The supposed rejector of the "Bridge to Nowhere" still has the money allocated for the original project, which she supported, and is using it to fund another bridge project. Palin the fiscal conservative spent $26 million federal dollars on a road that would lead to the Bridge to Nowhere.

In true Bush-like style, Palin relies on a very small, loyal group of advisers, which includes her husband. Although he's not employed by the state, Todd Palin's presence in the statehouse is described as unusual for a first spouse. He sits in on news conferences, occasional Cabinet meetings and private sessions with lawmakers.

If 8 years of Bush's go-with-the-gut style of politics hasn't left you with a stomach ache, then then by all means vote for McCain-Palin, they seem to offer more of the same.


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