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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Sneak Preview

Alaska's gorgeous governor a vice president?

Posted: August 15, 2007
1:00 am Eastern

By Les Kinsolving
© 2009

Washington's "Weekly Standard" magazine's two-page feature article on Gov. Sarah Palin has a photograph of her – that would stop traffic.

With a smile that could melt all the tundra of the Arctic Circle – as well as absolutely astounding political success and integrity – Gov. Palin ought really to be seriously considered by whomever wins the Republican Presidential nomination, as an absolutely glorious running mate.

Even though Alaska has very few electoral votes, Sarah Palin would be an absolutely devastating addition to the GOP ticket – particularly if the Democrats nominate Hillary.

There is infinitely more to Mrs. Palin than the radiant beauty which won her the Miss Wasilla beauty contest, from which she went on to compete in the Miss Alaska pageant.

Editor Fred Barnes of "The Weekly Standard" reported from Juneau that she is known to inevitable critics by the wonderfully stimulating nickname: "Sarah Barracuda" (!) (Politics in the Great North State are never dull.)

Barnes described her as "a politician of eye-popping integrity ... now the most popular governor in America with an approval rating in the 90s, and probably the most popular public official in any state."

(And, let me add, just wonderfully equipped to counter if the Democrats presidentially nominate another – if older – pretty lady.)

Barnes also reports:

"Her rise is a great (and rare) story of how adherence to principle – especially to transparency and accountability in government can produce political success."

"Palin is a conservative who, only last month, vetoed 13 percent of the state's proposed budget for capital projects which the 'Anchorage Daily News' said: 'may be the biggest single-year line-item veto total in state history.'"

In the cause of justice, she has been unafraid to take on what she believed were unethical practices by Republicans – like Randy Ruedrich, Alaska Oil and Gas Commissioner, who was also GOP state chairman. He eventually paid a $12,000 fine for breaking state ethics laws. "She became a hero in the eyes of the public and the press – and the bane of Republican leaders."

In 2005, she joined Democrat Eric Croft in lodging an ethics complaint against state Attorney General Gregg Renkes – a long-time adviser and campaign manager for Gov. Frank Murkowski – who reprimanded Renkes – who resigned. "Palin was again hailed as a hero."

In 2006, she ran against Murkowski, who was seeking re-election – and won, decisively in an overwhelmingly Democrat year …. "Political analysts in Alaska refer to the bodycount of Palin's rivals."

One of her first acts as governor was to fire the Alaska Board of Agriculture – whose replacements stopped the state Creamery Board – which marketed the products of Alaska dairy farmers for 71 years and wanted to close down. "You don't just close down and walk away," commented Gov. Barracuda.
I suggest this gorgeous and thoroughly gutsy governor would be a great Veep nominee. She has a husband named Todd. He was her high school sweetheart, who works for BP on the North Slope. He is rugged enough to be a 3-time winner of the 2,000-mile Iron Dog snowmobile race from Wasilla to Nome, to Fairbanks.

She grew up attending nondenominational Bible churches and told editor Barnes:

"I believe everything happens for a purpose. In my own personal life, if I dedicated back to my Creator what I'm trying to create for the good, everything will turn out fine."

In my having covered eight of the last nine Republican National Conventions, I can remember how usually last-minute – and so-far-from-the-top – has been the selection of a nominee for Vice President ( a number of whom, like Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt, went on to very distinguished presidencies).

2008, in Minneapolis, could be vice-presidentially electrifying – if they choose Alaska's gorgeous and gutsy governor.

Sadly, however, I am obliged to report – and it is on the record – that at the White House daily news briefing July 16th, Presidential Press Secretary Tony Snow gave Gov. Palin what I recall – in both tone of voice as well as brevity – was distinctly short shrift.

I asked Tony Snow:

Q: Washington's 'Weekly Standard' reports from Juneau, Alaska, that the new Republican Governor, Sarah Palin, has an approval rating of 90 percent in the polls; that's 9-0. What is the president's reaction to this and her future?

MR. SNOW (very quickly) "He's happy for her."

That's it. Nothing more.

Which seems to me to be very sad.


Asset or liability?

Last week, the Candie's Foundation announced at a media event that Bristol Palin is their new "ambassador." The organization was founded to raise awareness and discuss ways to combat teen pregnancy after the fashion company, as the New York Times put it, came "under fire from critics who accused [Candie's] of dressing high schoolers like tarts." Meanwhile, Candie's product spokesmodel Britney Spears is promoting, well, you probably already know what Britney Spears is promoting.

All well and good — unless maybe your mom may want to run for President of the United States someday.

As any politico as experienced as Sarah Palin surely knows, either your children are off limits to the press and public, like the youngster Obama girls, or they step into the spotlight and takes their chances, like the adult Meghan McCain.

Politically, the pertinent question about the 18-year-old Bristol's new spokesperson status is: would it be an asset or a liability to a future Palin for President campaign? Would Bristol perhaps had as much or greater effect on teens had she mounted a lower-profile statewide campaign to her fellow Alaskans, under the national media radar? What were the identified political risks of Bristol's signing on with Candie's? Strictly from a brand management standpoint, what would George W. Bush or Barack Obama have done under similar circumstances?

Like it or not, every move by every Palin family member, from her guy Todd to little Trig and into the outer branches of the family tree, is being and will be examined by the opposition (outside and inside the Republican Party) for possible political advantage. If she hasn't already, Gov. Palin may face a Carrie Prejean moment, in which she must decide which is more important: making a statement or winning the crown (and then making the statement).

As the New York Times demonstrates, all the media has to do is cast doubt: "But when a teenager goes out on this kind of mission, you have to wonder where her parents’ heads were. What does this say about Sarah Palin’s judgment? Although we’ve sort of answered that question before."