Friday, July 31, 2009

Palin chases the dollar signs


A fellow scribe lately assigned to the Sarah Palin beat up north sent down the following joke: Question: What's the best view of Wasilla, Alaska? Answer: Out the rearview mirror.

The former governor and GOP vice presidential nominee grew out of the grassroots of Wasilla's paved-over strip malls. But Palin has outgrown all that and will be spending much of her time in the "lower 48."

Look for Palin to take frequent journeys to the bank before going on the road to the White House.

The public's attention span is short, so it is in Palin's self-interest to seek the gains that come with fame.

The governor's Fairbanks farewell speech last Sunday, with its warnings about big government and attacks on the media -- even a celebration of hunting -- was tailored to tastes of America's political right.

With her views, her looks and the celebrity of her 2008 vice presidential campaign, Palin can probably earn five-figure fees on the speechmaking circuit. She is working with a ghostwriter on a book. By resigning as governor, she does not have to file Alaska public-disclosure forms revealing the advance.

Of course, 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is already holding forth with a show on Fox News. Huckabee has impeccable credentials as a culture warrior. Still, the guy has a streak of personal decency plus thoughtful views on such issues as health care and corporate welfare.

What the far right wants is red meat, served up bloody red.

We have, this week, Fox News' race-baiter Glen Beck calling President Obama "a racist" and accusing Obama of having a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."

On CNN, Lou Dobbs has fanned the Birthers, challenging Obama to "provide the long-form birth certificate," and hinting -- without evidence -- that the certificate produced in last year's campaign is not "the real document."

As this column is written, CNN's "Larry King Live" is readying a lowbrow face-off: Judge Sonia Sotomayor's qualifications for the U.S. Supreme Court will be discussed by left-wing publicity hound the Rev. Al Sharpton and right-wing attention seeker Ann Coulter.

Sarah Palin would fit cable TV "commentary" like a glove, witness her 2008 speeches about Obama "palling around with terrorists." If caught wordless, she could always wink at the camera.

Doubtless, the former governor will undergo analysis by the elite media's two ranking psychobabblers, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times and Gail Sheehy of Vanity Fair. They've sucked every possible milligram of blood out of Hillary Clinton.

But such attacks will only strengthen Palin's credentials with the right-thinking faithful.

If you read responses to articles, right-thinking Soundoff contributors love to use the word hypocrisy.

The issue does come up with Palin. She has served as governor of a state that, in 2008, received $508.34 per resident in federal earmarks -- highest in the nation --compared to $18.74 per capita in John McCain's Arizona.

As mayor of Wasilla, she hired a lobbyist to seek $27 million in earmarks for a town of 8,000. Palin was for the "bridge to nowhere" before she was against it. She resisted but then retreated on Alaska taking federal stimulus money, although holding out on dollars earmarked to weatherize homes for winter.

The enthusiasm of Palin faithful will not pale at past pork.

Just look at the crowd she drew to the April right-to-life dinner in Evansville. Watch the video of Republican National Chairman Michael Steele reduced to a warm-up act. Read the reactions afterward -- "Awesome!" "Amazing!" "Absolutely beautiful!" -- on the Web site.

The neoconservative intellectuals of the Republican Party can write their critical columns, but they won't create any more doubters than Dowd and (if she chooses to play) Sheehy.

The right does the nominating in the Republican Party, and two early deciding states -- Iowa, with its caucuses, and South Carolina with its primary -- are strongholds of the Christian right.

As well, Palin -- for the moment -- is an honest-to-goodness national celebrity.

Alaska lawmakers attending last week's National Council of State Legislators' meeting were spotted wearing buttons saying, "I'm from Alaska. Please don't ask me about her." A Washington, D.C., airport newsstand, displaying the Time magazine with Palin on the cover, put out a sign reading "Only two copies per customer." "Starting this afternoon, she's someone else's story," the Anchorage Daily News' irreverent "Alaskan Ear" column opined last Sunday.

They'll miss her. Until this month, I never thought any Alaska governor could match Wally Hickel's famous declaration: "We can't just let nature run wild."

But that was before Sarah Palin intoned: "Only dead fish go with the flow."

Joel Connelly can be reached at 206-448-8160 or

Monday, July 27, 2009

Stepping aside, Palin vows to 'fight even harder'

From Candy Crowley

(CNN) -- As Sarah Palin handed over the Alaska governorship this weekend, the wear, tear and resentments of a year on the big stage were evident for the former GOP vice presidential candidate.

Her parting words Sunday included a parting shot at the media:

"So how about in honor of the American soldier, you quit making up things. And don't underestimate the wisdom of the people. And one other thing for the media -- our new governor has a very nice family, too, so leave his kids alone," she said as she handed off power to Sean Parnell, the lieutenant governor.

Palin's farewell to the governor's office was a three-day rolling picnic, from Wasilla to Anchorage to Fairbanks. Palin, a mother of five, was surrounded by friends and supporters.

"I will tell you one thing -- if we get a woman president, let it be her. She is a real woman. She knows what a woman is supposed to be. She is pro-life. She is pro-family. She is pro-woman," said Jon Eric Thompson, who attended the Sunday picnic in Fairbanks.

But it was not all friendly going. Palin has lost some of her light in Alaska and a lot on the national stage.

"She abandoned her state in the middle of a term. They didn't ask for her to run. She volunteered to run and assumed that job. I think she has hurt herself. You've seen those numbers turn," Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union With John King."

Fifty-three percent of Americans view Palin negatively, and 40 percent see her positively, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Worse for Palin, four in 10 Republicans don't think she understands complex issues, the poll found.

Still Palin wouldn't be the first politician to rehabilitate herself. And it's clear that while she handed over the governor's chair, she doesn't plan on relinquishing the microphone.

"Now with this decision, now I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right and for truth," Palin said.

Palin is working on a book, she says she'll help other candidates, and she'll give speeches. One of her first post-governor events will be August 8 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.

She could make good money doing all of that. She also could be on a path that leads to 2012; it's called keeping your options open.

"I just asked her that about five minutes ago, and you want to know what she said? She said, 'I don't know' with her little smirk," said Adele Morgan, who went to high school with Palin and lives in Wasilla.

"That's her one-liner right now, because we don't know," she said.