The New Landscape in Alaska for the Wasilla Wonder

Back when I argued that Palin would probably not be the Republican candidate for President in 2012, I noted how much the landscape had changed for Palin in Alaska.

That’s true, first of all, because the exposure of the campaign will bring some unanticipated setbacks to her.

[snip–note, I cut out a prediction that the personnel board investigation might be damning, which turned out to be dead wrong]

At the very least, her claim to be a reformer in Alaska won’t fare well.

Then there’s the fact that she’s got at least two more years as governor before 2012–and there is no evidence that she is any more competent at governing than George Bush. So long as oil prices remain where they are, she’s going to have a difficult time meeting the increased needs of an inflation-wracked Alaska.

Here’s a really good inventory of the ways in which life for Sarah will change in Alaska. My favorites:

4 The Legislature

Palin’s two-year record was much dissected during the presidential campaign. Some Alaska lawmakers complained she was disengaged at times. Democratic allies who helped with her priorities are now unhappy with her new national partisanship and the campaign’s meddling in Troopergate. Her unhappiest critics have been Republicans who resented how the "maverick reformer" painted dissenters as part of the "good old boy" network.

Back in Juneau, she’s likely to face a new source of friction: budget-cutting tensions due to declining oil revenues.


Palin also has work to do with some of her constituents. Big anti-Palin rallies in Anchorage during the campaign were unprecedented — Frank Murkowski never stirred that kind of passion. Coming home to vote in a Carhartts jacket shows she’s thinking along those lines. (Or was she buffing her small-town, anti-fashion image for a national crowd? More second-guessing.)

5 The natural gas pipeline

With the nation sliding into recession and state oil revenues plunging, the gas line seems more important than ever to Alaska. Crossing the next big pre-construction hurdles would give Palin a big achievement to trumpet.

But there are plenty of perils in the next two years. The looming challenge involves the so-called "open season" — persuading the oil companies, through tax incentives, legal pressure or superior poker strategy, to commit to ship their gas reserves through the line.

Meanwhile the state will seek help from the Obama administration on rights of way and federal loan guarantees. Palin’s pitch: that getting gas to the Lower 48 will lead the nation away from oil and provide a bridge to a new era of alternative energy sources. Obama did say during the presidential race he supports getting the gas line built.

While she’s working on energy, Palin also faces the challenge of the warming Arctic and the rural energy crisis. Alaska’s governor was described during the campaign as one of the nation’s leading experts in energy security, so it won’t do to have rural villagers shivering in the dark. There’s been lots of talk about alternative energy projects, and money has been committed — but will there be any new kilowatts generated in the next two years of Palin’s leadership?

6 Family and friends

OK, the kids will remain off limits, for the most part. But finding time for her growing family remains a significant challenge for Palin, alongside her work for the state and her new national prominence.

Todd Palin’s role in the administration has been subjected to great scrutiny in the past two months, but there don’t seem to be any new lines yet defining the first gentleman’s responsibilities.

Now, I still think it unlikely that Palin will be the GOP nominee in 2012, for all these reasons. Though I do think one possibility has opened–replacing Toobz Stevens in the Senate–that offers her the clearest path to the nomination in 2012. If she were to replace Toobz in, say, March (after a special election; she almost certainly can’t appoint herself), then she’d get out of Juneau before the effects of lower gas prices really devastate the Alaska budget and with it Sarah’s claim to be a fiscal conservative. Hanging out in DC would give her the opportunity to go on taxpayer funded (because we know Sarah likes to have others pay for things for her) fact-finding trips to other countries, which will help her gain credibility and knowledge about foreign affairs. And if she replaced Toobz, she would presumably inherit many of Toobz’ staffers, who know their way around DC and could make her look good. Finally, she’d be at ready access for things like the Sunday shows, so she could keep her purty face in front of voters.

I still think it unlikely she will be the nominee in 2012. At the very least, positioning to do so from Alaska looks increasingly difficult.

21 replies
  1. PJEvans says:

    It might be a bit harder for her, now that Todd has been outed as a separatist. Or would he move to DC with her, if she managed to get into Congress? (I wouldn’t want her as senator; she really does need a lot more experience before heading for the top.)

  2. DefendOurConstitution says:

    I don’t think the AK Legislature is done with her. Palin has stepped on a lot of toes on the way up and there are a lot of Republicans that really don’t like her.

    If the Legislature doesn’t do her in, I think just letting her run at the mouth and say some of what she really thinks to reporters (preferrably on camera) will do her in.

  3. emptywheel says:

    I would imagine she’d have to bring the kids (which is, after all, consistent with carting them around the country to campaign–they don’t apparently go to school!!), and I suspect the GOP would put Todd to work stalking enemies of the party, much as he has done in Alaska.

  4. randiego says:

    It might be a bit harder for her, now that Todd has been outed as a separatist.

    he was outed yes, but nobody seemed to care about it…

  5. MsAnnaNOLA says:

    As much as I despise the current Gov of LA, Bobby Jindal he will wipe the floor with Sarah Palin in any debate for the Pres Race. Dispite the fact that he is disliked by me he is a minority who is articulate and perported to be a wonderkind. Does this remind you of anyone?

    Bobby Jindal is the one to watch in four or eight years. Oh and did I mention that if he completes his term as governor it will be the first job he has stayed in for more than two years? He is ambitious too.

    Very ambitious.

  6. BoxTurtle says:

    Will she be the Nominee? Dunno…four years ago, who would have thought theDem nomination would go to anybody but Hillary. And who’s this freshman upstart from Chicago?

    But she’ll be running. She’ll be the darling of the religious right and wingnuts everywhere. What do you think will get more votes in a republican primary: Conservative economic lectures or BURN THE WITCHES?

    The point about Jindal is a very good one. Palin will be comedy relief if she’s the nominee, but Jindal’s a legit contender.

    Boxturtle (I agree with EW, she’s hunting Stevens seat somehow)

  7. klynn says:


    An update to the missing White House emails timeline:…..htm?csp=34

    A federal judge has ruled against the Bush administration in a court battle over the White House’s problem-plagued e-mail system.

    U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy says two private groups may pursue their case as they press the administration to recover millions of possibly missing electronic messages.

    • jdmckay says:

      I’d bet what’s left of my 401k that whatever archives remain have been thoroughly cleansed. W’ would leave “stuff” sitting around for an Obama AG to poke around in? Don’t think so.


      (…)I suspect the GOP would put Todd to work stalking enemies of the party

      Todd the plumber?

  8. Leen says:

    EW I think your suggestion that Palin is perfect for the host of a game show is Palin’s best bet.

    ot..I think you will be interested.
    Documents linking Iran to nuclear weapons push may have been fabricated….._1109.html

    Juan cole has a few things to say about this

    Scott Ritter was asking that the sources of the Iranian laptop be investigated a long while back…..038;id=161…..losersgame

  9. AZ Matt says:

    OT – EW, have you seen this article? LINK

    Michigan Messenger broke the story Oct. 1 that at least two Michigan GOP precinct delegates had ties to white supremacists.

  10. freepatriot says:

    you make the mistake of assuming you are dealing with rational actors here

    you do a pretty good job of itemizing why a logical person would not support princess pandora

    what about the fundie wingnuts ???

    we ain’t talkin bout logical people or rational actors there

    we’re dealing with a group of people we can call “Other Directed”

    I could slip into academic mode, and write an analysis of what motivates these nutjobs without insulting them, but why bother ???

    we’re talking about a group of people who spout a belief system that they themselves cannot measure up to. logic and reality don’t register in their calculations

    wanna bet they chose to support princess pandora just cuz you an the rest of us DFHs are picking on her ???

    • emptywheel says:

      Not really.

      I’m assuming Palin’s popularity is based on the things her popularity is currently based on: the claim tobeing able to get stuff done, the claim to being a fiscal conservative, the claim to being a family person. The claim to being wildly successful legislatively.

      Yes, Sarah Palin will still be a charismatic demagogue. But she will have a lot harder time playing the demagogue she played on TV this time around.

      • freepatriot says:

        I’m assuming that princess pandora’s popularity is based IN a group of people who don’t care about all of the things you list

        the wingnut fundies support sister sarah cuz she’s a fundie wingnut, like them

        they don’t care about competence, or ability to get things done

        princess pandora’s daughter is a perfect example. the fundie wingnuts HATE premarital sex, but they just adore bristol palin

        why ???

        because the facts and the hypocrisy don’t matter

        bristol palin mouths the same beliefs that the fundies do, and that’s enough to wash away all sin

        in their view, nobody on the planet is bad because he sins. People are bad because they don’t agree with the wingnuts, no matter what the people do

        popularity amongst the freepi is based on beliefs, not actions or competence

        I think you discount that

        the fundies have been studying Obama’s internet cash raising methods. They figure they can equal Obama’s supporter numbers (how many individual doners did Obama have ???) The fundies have been burned by the money boys’ candidates before. In 2012, the fundies are gonna invite themselves to the dance

        the fundies are gonna support a candidate of their own in 2012, I just know it

        who can you see dethroning the “drilla from wasilla” amongst the wingnuts ???

        pick another nutter, or get used to her being the leading repuglitard contender in 2012

        unless somebody drops a house on her sister …

      • rapt says:

        EW you are still insisting that everyone has a practical approach like you do. I’m not criticizing – I like your stuff and read most of it. As freepatriot has been suggesting, those few bases you cite for Palin’s popularity are really irrelevant for a lot of folks; they like her cos she’s cute, a mother, etc. and oh such a relief from all those serious but incomprehensible gray heads that keep on lying to us.

        So what if she’s clueless. I’d call her popularity more of a whiplash effect from people who are fed up with politics as usual. It really isn’t such a stretch to award the office of president to a country bimbo – see if she can do better at it than a gang of criminals. That is an entirely appropriate reaction finally, to the ridiculous charade our govt has become.

    • bmaz says:

      I could slip into academic mode, and write an analysis of what motivates these nutjobs without insulting them, but why bother ???

      Um, please review our contract. That is not the work product for which we keep putting tasty trolls in your cage!

      • freepatriot says:

        Um, please review our contract.

        sorry, no can do

        ran outta rolling papers back in August …

        hope that was non-toxic ink, btw …


    • AZ Matt says:

      wanna bet they chose to support princess pandora just cuz you an the rest of us DFHs are picking on her ???

      Heck, seems like the McCain branch of the rethug party is picking on her more than any DFH.

  11. freepatriot says:

    here’s an off topic question

    paulson decided that he doesn’t have to explain which banks got bailout funds

    does this stupid fucker realize that he’s gonna have to EAT THOSE FUCKING WORDS ON JANUARY 20, 2009 ???

    do the repuglitards realize that the person who decides what to classify and what to declassify is gonna change in about two months ???

    does dickhead cheney realize how that “Instadeclassification” is gonna come in handy next year ???

    does kkkarl realize that the argument about executive privilege that has kept kkkarl out of the witness chair is gonna be REVOKED

    oh yeah, the United States Marshals’ Office is gonna adopt a different attitude about enforcing Congressional subpoenas too

    think that realization has been digested by some of these fools ???

    The bases are loaded and casey’s at bat, TIME TO CHANGE THE PATTERN

  12. Downpuppy says:

    Things are probably worse for the gas pipeline than you suggest. In the lower 48, there’s plenty of gas available by drilling in shale. Higher cost than old fashioned gas wells, yes, but we’ve done a lot of it and gas production has increased. We’re in year 3 of a near glut in gas.

  13. Neil says:

    This op-ed illustrates is an interesting historical parallel of an American political party going in two directions, not unlike the GOP fundies and fiscal conservatives. It’s a battle outside her sphere of influence and the outcome is undetermined. The battle may have more influence over the 2012 nominee than the Palin particulars you identify. That said, I think you’re right, also.

    Echoes of Fillmore and the GOP Know-Nothings
    By Timothy M. Gay, Boston Globe

    Sarah Palin’s Alaska still belonged to czarist Russia when the Know-Nothings were spewing their peculiar brand of bigotry in the 1850s.


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