Putting Palin’s Popularity in Perspective

During this summer of of 2009, Bed and Breakfast owners and Innkeepers across Alaska have been spending their time gritting their teeth, biting their tongues, smiling politely, and changing the subject!.

When Sarah Palin was thrust into the National spotlight as McCain’s VP running mate, one of the explanations as to her selection for that position was her 80% approval rating with Alaskans. What many don’t understand is why she was so popular (or the fact that the entire sum of that popularity involved some 520,000 people, a number smaller than the populations of most major U.S. cities). Many, perhaps most, make the erroneous assumption that her approval rating was a result of her actions. In fact, Palin’s popularity, for the most part, came simply from what she was not.

Alaska IS the last frontier. While we are the largest state in physical area, we have the smallest population; smaller than most cities in the U.S., with approximately 650,000 people in the entire State. With such a small population; and with 60% or more of that population located in remote areas and villages, most of which can only be reached by plane or boat, it’s easy to understand how a handful of people could come to hold all the power.

As has been in the news in the past few years, Alaska’s politicians and legislators are riddled with corruption and self-serving power. Our last Governor, Frank Markowitz (prior to Pain) and his cronies, were so brazen in their power and corruption, that they had T-shirts made – “The Corrupt Bastards Club” – and wore them proudly. (I am not joking!) Frank’s grandest gesture of “good old boys club” mentality I think, was when he appointed his own daughter to fill his Senate seat, when he, as our Governor, was elected to serve as our Senator. Seems like a person couldn’t do that, but the law allowed it.

So, when Ms. Palin arrived on the scene all bright and chipper, with claims she would “clean up” Alaska politics, and promises of “open and transparent government,” she became wildly popular. Anyone would have.

She sold the jet, one of Frank’s luxuries, pushed for the Alaska gas pipeline, and would do things like drive herself 150 miles for some public appearance on the weekend, saving the State money. Alaskans were happy and we thought she was doing a reasonable job.

Then, Palin’s actions involving Walt Monehan, a beloved Alaskan public servant, came under close scrutiny when she suddenly removed his appointment. As I recall, this was the beginning of her fall from grace with Alaskans. When Walt suddenly fell out of favor with the Governor, everyone wanted to know why. When she appointed a known sex offender to fill Walt’s position there was huge public outcry (and of course that appointment did not hold – but suddenly her judgment seemed off). I’m not sure we ever got the entire truth about the whole “Troopergate” mess, but what did seem to be true is that Walt fell out of favor because there was someone that the Palin family wanted fired, and Walt would not comply. It was a whole “family affair” with her husband Todd, and other members of the family involved.

Suddenly Palin didn’t seem so perfect, her office not so “open and transparent.,” her actions less than honorable. She revealed her secretive side when we discovered she was about to have a baby – something she managed to keep hidden till the very end; and there were even rumors that her son’s military service was court ordered because he committed vandalism as a juvenile. As a State population we’d been told we would know what was going on, but instead we found ourselves quite confused and in the dark, in what seemed like every arena. Then, suddenly, she was on the National stage, and we watched with dismay as Alaska’s day to day business was forgotten, neglected, then eventually abandoned entirely.

We’ll never know if she would have done a good job; if she was in fact worthy of the popularity. She wasn’t Governor long enough before the Republican’s debacle choice of her for VP. She hasn’t governed since, and now she’s resigned to pursue fame and fortune! (She’s a real Alaska girl for sure – a gold digger!) Her legal troubles will follow her for years though, especially in light of the fact that her personal legal defense fund may turn out to be an abuse of power and a version of corruptness all its own; last week’s breaking news.

After she announced her plans to resign, but before she had, rumors swirled about her plans on the National stage. During this past week however, the bulk of the national attention she’s received has been from comedians. The only speaking engagement, for the NRA at a gathering in Anchorage, pretty darn close to home….

If she ever lands on the National stage; if our country ever sinks to the level of stupidity again as it did with GWBush I fear the world will turn on us like a hungry pack of hyenas. We must demand better! We must demand honesty. We must demand intelligence and education. We must demand that “the common good” prevails.

As a country we have some incredible obstacles to overcome – and some serious business at hand, if we are to become again a country worthy of the world’s respect and admiration – let us not be distracted by this x-beauty queen hockey mom, ever again.

Thank you dear reader,
Namaste`