While I concede that nominating Governor Palin was a risk in some sense, I find the ridicule she is receiving to be overdone. It was a calculated risk (like many in politics) — and one based on sound reason and (I believe) thorough vetting. If neither Obama nor Biden want to touch her daughter’s pregnancy with a ten foot pole, why does the media not stop talking about it? (1) It is salacious, and therefore drives up ratings. (2) It supposedly pours cold water on Gov. Palin’s wholesome image. (3) They suspect it divides evangelicals, or otherwise embarrasses them. Furthermore, the mainstream media does not seem to understand why she so electrifies the conservative base.
Christopher Orr, writing in the prominent liberal blog The New Republic, compellingly presents “The Case Against the Case Against Palin“. It begins by describing how Sarah Palin ran against incumbent governor (and former three term senator) Frank Murkowski. Orr is recounting advice he gave to a friend who became a speech writer for Palin in 2005, when she was gearing up to take on Murkowski in the Republican primary:
It was utter folly. “Wait until the big money starts coming in for Murkowski,” I said. “Wait until the party machinery goes to work on Palin. They will eat her for lunch.”
Murkowski, for his part, expressed a similar view. “If I decide to,” he said, “I will run and I will win. It’s that simple.”
The folly, of course, turned out to be my own (and Murkowski’s), as Palin slaughtered the incumbent in the primary–posting a 30 point margin of victory–and went on to win the general (over a former Democratic governor) without seeming to break a sweat. She then quickly fulfilled an implicit campaign promise by slapping down ExxonMobil, BP, and ConocoPhillips in negotiations over a proposed Alaska natural gas pipeline, even though they, too, by all accounts, were well prepared to dine on her tender little frame. Not bad for a lightweight.
Orr goes on to chastise Democratic leadership for expressing the same folly today.
Barack Obama’s spokesman, Bill Burton, put it this way: “Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency.” Former mayor? If you’re going to skip over her job as governor and, before that, her job heading the commission that oversees production of the largest petroleum reserves in America, why not “former high school student”? Bah, what does it matter: She’s just a small town mayor, just a hockey mom, just a beauty pageant queen. Palin has never shunned these belittling monikers, in part, I imagine, because the camouflage has served her so well. Soothed by the litany, her opponents tend to sleep too late, sneer too much, and forget who it is that hires them.
Alaska’s FY2008 operating budget is $11.2 billion, and the state employs approximately 15,000 people. Those certainly aren’t huge numbers in federal terms, but they’re a good bit bigger than the Obama campaign.