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.