July 4, 2009

In Which the Lizards Dabble in Palin-tology

Hatched by Dafydd

All right, so Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska made the shocker announcement today: She is not running for reeelction in 2010; in fact, she is resigning as of Sunday, July 26th, 2009. Future career plans left unannounced.

Much speculation centers on the possiblity that she will run for the presidency in 2012; that's certainly what most commenters on Power Line seem to think, according to John Hinderaker. (I'm sure that Paul Mirengoff will shortly weigh in with a discouraging word.)

I concur in part and dissent in part from John's take on this development. John is skeptical that she is going to run for president after just three quarters of a term as governor:

Most observers assume that means she will devote full time to running for President. I guess so. Frankly, it seems bizarre to me, unless Palin calculates that in order to run she will have to spend most of her time in the lower 48, and the logistics of doing that while continuing as Governor are impossible.

I concur; she is not yet seasoned enough. If Obama is reelected, she could be a plausible candidate in 2016; and if a Republican is elected in 2012, she will still be young enough in 2020, at age 56, to be a strong contender. But what is she to do in the meantime to keep her name in circulation and bolster her future presidential viability?

Though he offers no prediction of the future plans for most everybody's favorite soccer mom (everybody except John S. McCain's campaign mangler, Steve Schmidt, I presume), I get the feeling John believes she is not going to run for elective office again; this subtextual dismissal is the part to which I dissent. I believe a much more likely possibility is being ignored...

Palin has a good shot running in the Senate primary against Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK, 58%). Murkowski is a very liberal (and often very embarassing) RINO; she is a legacy-babe, having originally been appointed to the Senate by her father, Frank Murkowski, when he resigned his Senate seat to become governor in 2002.

Sen. Murkowski has a number of positions that don't sit well with conservatives and most Republicans:

  • She opposed the "nuclear option" for ending the endless Democratic fillibusters of Bush appointees, thus undercutting the president's ability to move the bench even further towards judicial restraint;
  • She strongly favors taxpayer-supported embryonic stem-cell research, even without the use of technology that leaves the embryo intact;
  • Murkowski is very, very pro-choice for a Republican; she's not in Ted Kennedy-land, but she's much further left on this issue than Palin.
  • She voted to raise the ridiculous biofuels standard fivefold, requiring production of 36 billion gallons per year of biofuels by 2022 (we currently use about 7 billion gallons).

She is still better than nearly any Democrat, of course; for example, she strongly supports drilling for oil and natural gas in Alaska, even in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). But I can certainly understand a conservative like Palin hoping to replace Murkowski with someone who... well, with someone who thinks more like Sarah Palin.

Too, Frank Murkowski was part of the good old boy network in Alaska that Palin has fought so long and hard to overthrow. The other corrupt, old blackguard in that clubbiest of clubs is of course Ted Stevens -- notwithstanding that his corruption conviction was thrown out due to prosecutorial misconduct (after which, Stevens was thankfully not heard to remark, "Guilty as sin, free as a bird... only in America!")

Mr. Stevens was defeated in his bid for reelection in 2008, in no small measure because of his (tainted) conviction; but his last successful endeavor was to help reelect -- wait for it -- Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2004, when she ran for her first election after Daddy appointed her. So with Frank Murkowski as her father and Ted Steven as her mentor, Lisa Murkowski in many ways exemplifies all that is wrong with the Republican machine in that state.

And Murkowski herself had a brush with the same sort of corruption that has tainted the GOP in Alaska for many years; she bought property from Bob Penney, a businessman in Anchorage, for what appeared to be very much less than the land was worth, leading to speculation that it was an illegal gift. The day after it was referred to the Senate ethics committee, she sold the property back to Penney for what she had paid. She also failed to report significant income ($100,000 over three years) on her Senate disclosure forms and had to file amended disclosures.

Even with the pull of Stevens and Murkowski, then the most powerful pols in Alaska, she barely squeaked out a minority victory over former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, 48.62 to 45.51. Had 4,800 votes gone the other way, she would have been defeated without ever having been elected to that seat. This does not inspire confidence that she can pull it off again next year, even against the same candidate.

So for many reasons, I can see soon-to-be-ex Gov. Palin wanting to mail L-Murk back to Anchorage, C.O.D.

But of course, even the Right would think it pretty gauche for Palin to campaign against sitting Republican Sen. Murkowski in the primary -- while Palin was still the Republican governor of the state: It would be ill-mannered.

But if she were to return to being a private citizen, then all barriers to challenging Murkowski in the primary would be removed; she could make a full-throated run against Murkowski on all three points -- Murkowski's politics, her ethics, and her electability. I'm not prepared to make this an actual prediction at this juncture, but I think it a very distinct possibility. Don't be surprised if she announces her candidacy for the U.S. Senate later this year.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 4, 2009, at the time of 12:23 AM

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The following hissed in response by: snochasr

Others have said that a two-year stint in the US Senate would perfectly position her for a campaign in 2012. She would gain all that "Washington experience," and could reasonably claim to be MORE qualified than the sitting President, having been in the Senate two years as he has, PLUS having been Governor. Her "strict" conservatism should also be seen as an act of redemption by the average Obama voter with a near-fatal case of buyer's remorse, by that time.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 4, 2009 1:20 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Ooh, but there's a problem: If she did as you suggest, she would have a history of accepting and then abandoning public offices... not a good harbinger of what she would be like as president!

But if she serves out her full, six-year term, she would be available to run in 2016:

  • If that's at the end of Obama's second term, she would be available to be the first woman president... and much more qualified than the first black president.
  • Or if that's at the end of President Mitt Romney's first term, she could leave and take a position in his cabinet for the second, making sure he doesn't go wobbley, as GWB did in his second term. Then by 2020, she's even more experienced, having been a governor, senator, and cabinet member.

Any way you slice it, Palin is better off serving a full Senate term before running in her own right. At that point, even Steve Schmidt would have to accept her standing, however grudgingly.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 4, 2009 2:25 AM

The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

Sorry, Dafydd... it just doesn't feel right. You don't leave the State's highest Executive Office to run for a committee post. The World's most exalted committee post, yes... but still. Abandoning the Governorship for a chance at taking on El Murko is a cute move if your highest goal is to remover the last vestige of power for the Murkowsky family sure... but that doesn't parlay into National votes.

Basically, for me it boils down to Ed Morrissey's phrase: Leaders don't quit.

I have no idea what's behind this abdication, but in doing so she's not expanded her political future; just the opposite. Locally or Nationally... she's a quitter. Beautiful, yes. Talented speaker, yes. Red Meat Republican at a time when nobody else is? Absolutely. But unless she comes up with a reason that is better than 'They said mean things about my family' she's done on the National stage, and it does NOT make me happy to see that.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 4, 2009 3:59 AM

The following hissed in response by: nk

She did take the governorship away from Frank Murkowski, running against him in the Republican primary.

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 4, 2009 7:52 AM

The following hissed in response by: Texas Jack

With all due respect to our own Dafydd, ain't NONE of these pundits (or commentors, encluding me) knows a hill of beans about what Sarah's going to do, because she didn't say, and I don't believe in telepathy. They (we) can guess and pontificate all we want, but when push comes to shove, WE DON'T KNOW.

I wish she had not quit; quitting isn't good for the soul or the public record. Problem is, it's her life, not mine. If she has a plan, good for her, and maybe I'll get to vote for her again. If not, I hope some of us will remember her with a kind thought or two a few years down the road.

The above hissed in response by: Texas Jack [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 4, 2009 8:50 AM

The following hissed in response by: AD

I think a major factor in this action is the probably crushing debt she and Todd have accumulated in fighting-off all of the bogus "ethics" complaints lodged against here by the minions of the AK Dem Party. "Average" people who are facing $500K in legal expenses look for some way to end the madness. Even though she has prevailed on every single charge against her (15/15), the probability that more will be lodged, and the worse possibility that one will stick, had to have been daunting - plus, the vilification of her children/grand-child by those "leading lights of intellectualism" in the media and blogosphere just might have been the "straw".

The above hissed in response by: AD [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 4, 2009 10:09 AM

The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

Well AD, I suppose that's a factor... but does abdicating the Office free her from those attacks? You really think that the vicious momentum the Attack Hacks have built will just dissipate to thin air now that they have apparently chased a Conservative Governor from office?

Nah. They'll assume they smell blood... and it will go worse for her in the future if she takes a public stand on anything, and it's whetted their appetite for destruction.

Not only has she failed to protect herself from future slime, she's made it MUCH more likely that the next Conservative will be victimized as well.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 4, 2009 3:42 PM

The following hissed in response by: AD

Mr. Michael:
Yes, I think they will, since they are ethics allegations filed under aspects of the Government Code regulating the conduct of the Governor.
No Gubernatorial Office, no ethics violations.
How many "private citizens" have to face ethics probes?

The above hissed in response by: AD [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 4, 2009 6:23 PM

The following hissed in response by: Mike K

If I were advising her, I would suggest she spend the next 18 months campaigning for Congressional candidates and putting a personal think tank together, sort of like the one Margaret Thatcher had when she was in Heath's cabinet. If the GOP takes Congress back, she would have lots of favors to call in at a later time.

I doubt she can get ready for the presidency in 2012 and would do just as well to do what Nixon did in exile, help other pols and accumulate favors.

The above hissed in response by: Mike K [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 7, 2009 5:27 PM

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