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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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September 21, 2007 10:45 AM

Alaska governor is more than just new face of GOP

Posted by David Postman

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin today gave up on the state's infamous "Bridge to Nowhere." That's the $398 million bridge that would have connected the Ketchikan Airport to the rest of the island city. She told her transportation department to find a "fiscally responsible" alternative.

"Much of the public's attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened," she said.

Palin is a former mayor of a medium-size Alaska town outside of Anchorage. A Republican, she defeated incumbent Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski in a primary and went on to win the governorship in November.

I didn't know her when I lived in Alaska. But Palin intrigues me. She seems on her way to establishing not just a new face for the Alaska GOP, but a badly needed new soul, too. Today, the Anchorage Daily News mentions in its coverage of the bribery trial of former House Speaker Pete Kott:

Gov. Sarah Palin quietly popped into the trial for about 10 minutes in the morning. Few seemed to spot her as she slipped into the back row during a little of Kott's testimony on oil taxes. Palin said she took the opportunity to check in during a fire drill in the governor's Anchorage office in the nearby Atwood building.

"This is one of the most important series of trials in Alaska history," Palin said after her courtroom visit.

That's what I'd do. And I bet that's what most of you'd do if you found yourself with time on your hands anywhere near that courthouse. But I wonder how many governors would stop in a corruption trial just to watch, particularly if the defendant was of your political party. Palin was acting like a regular person, or as a regular political junkie. Governors are just too closely handled to allow much of that these days.



Palin ran for governor as a reformer. She pushed ethics complaints against two high-level Murkowksi appointments who ended up getting forced out. But most importantly — even before the state's current political scandals exploded — she ran openly against the oil industry. Republicans don't do that in Alaska, and either do many Democrats with statewide ambition.

And she didn't shy away when news began to break about ethical questions about Republican lawmakers. That was true even in the case of Ben Stevens, then the Senate president and son of the most powerful politician in Alaska, U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. She openly questioned Ben Stevens' conflicts of interest. He responded by telephoning her, calling her a "Pollyanna" and warning her that she wasn't just running against Republican party leaders — "You're running against me."

(She's kept up her criticism of the younger Stevens. She said this week that he should not be the state's Republican national committeeman.)

When Ben Stevens made his threat, I imagine that what he meant was, "and my dad, too." That's the beauty of Palin's rise. She did it while taking on the state's and the party's power structure. Her stature rises as her party's scandal grows.

Palin has also given up one of the oldest canards of Alaska politics: Blame it on Outside. Here's what she told Ralph Thomas as the scandal burgeoned this summer:

"Our state needs to grow up and clean up. ... We need to prove to the rest of the nation that our government is as clean as our environment and ... that we can do it right."

I assure you that most other Alaska governors would have instead blamed Outside media and Outside political forces and those in the Lower 48 that want to keep Alaska under the oppressive foot of the federal government.

MORE: AP has moved a story with another great example. Palin says Ted Stevens owes Alaskans some answers.

As details of the investigation and Stevens' relationship with Allen continue to emerge, Palin said she wants Stevens to shed some light for the public.

``I can't guess what that information it would be, but I think I join others in wanting to know of the senator's innocence,'' Palin said.

``Right now, we are not hearing anything,'' she said. ``We are going to give him the benefit of the doubt because that's appropriate, and that's deserved.''

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Posted by Former Alaskan

11:21 AM, Sep 21, 2007

You forgot to mention that last week Governor Palin stated that she felt State Senator Cowdery probably should not chair the Rules Committe since he is caught up in the Corrupt Bastards Club bribery scandal with the crew that includes Ben Stevens. As a result, Cowdery will not be participating in the upcoming Special Session.

Posted by Particle Man

11:38 AM, Sep 21, 2007

She is proof that there is hope for Alaska yet. Party is not the core issue integrity is.

Posted by TraceyC

1:30 PM, Sep 21, 2007

If Gov. Palin is doing all of these things, then she is one of the rare breed of Republicans I can still respect - an honest one, of the *Gerald Ford* variety. The country needs more like here, and I wish her a long and happy political life. I'm an independent that could vote for someone like her no matter what party she is in, and I hope she is what the GOP becomes in the future.

May there be more like her in BOTH parties.

Posted by TJ

7:11 AM, Sep 22, 2007

"What institution is insusceptible of abuse in wicked hands."
Thomas Jefferson, 1815.

She might be a real republican, not a confused Dixie Democrat like that Stevens Klan, the Chair's of the Corrupt Bastards Club.

Of course Trevor McCabe, and Ben Stevens, "Advance North LLC" explains it perfectly.

And Grandaddy Ted, with the DOJ's Anti-trust division's letter, explaining the Sherman Act of 1890 to Ted Stevens, and the NPFMC, about the illegal Crab Ratz program, with those Processor Quota Shares.

One would think the Chairman of the Commerce Committee, would understand the Commerce Clause, and the Republican Senator Sherman.
Didn't his older brother, one of Lincoln's Generals "March to the Sea" and burn Atlanta to the ground?

I guess that letter by Deputy Bruce McDonald, is confusing reading, for our Republicans, dressed up as Dixie Democrats.

I always thought that everyone knew, Rodger Sherman(R), who hung out with Thomas Jefferson (R), John Adams(W), Robert Livingston(R), as the "Committee of Five." Writing the Declaration???

And Ted's best friend, Sheets Byrd from West Virginia, "Go get Sheets, we need another vote."

"Ignorance of the law is a plea in no country & in no case."
Thomas Jefferson

Unless your a Article 1 member, so they think!

Posted by TJ

11:12 AM, Sep 24, 2007

Big word intregrity, for many D's and R's.

Like Larry Craig, another sharp example of a Republican's as intellegent as bag of famous potatoes.

"Especially when you have the judicial segment of government, the executive branch, out raiding homes of Senators, that is a very frighting proposition."

I guess it is frighting, when your Senator hasent a clue whatsoever about the Fundamental Principals of three branches of government.

Is it also scary for Craig, and his Committee of 9, who think the Executive Branches DOJ, didn't get a Judicial Branch Warrant, for the Raid on Ted Stevens house???

That "Committee of Nine" is Very Confused, about the Fundamental Republican Principals of our Government.

Didn't Trickey Dick, give the primary lesson, in his political theories from Mars also, or was that Saturday Night Massacre also too far back in the history book too.

I guess those Conspiracy Statues, confuse em too.

It's frighting all right, when you leave your party behind.
Like that doctrine applies at the DOJ.

Ted Stevens, their "Man of the Year."

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