A Humble Endorsement
I will hereby officially, in my capacity as humble blogger and Lehigh GOP Committeeperson, endorse Sarah Palin to be picked as John McCain’s running mate. This endorsement obviously carries no weight, but I would like to enumerate the reasons for my decision on this public forum. I feel it is necessary to show that Governor Palin, both in her personal character and her public accomplishments, reflects the type of person, male or female, that should be leading this country. She represents the future of the Republican Party, a future that we must embrace in order to survive as a party, and indeed as a nation.
Sarah Heath Palin was born in Idaho, but her values represent Alaska quite well. After graduating high school in 1982, she competed and won the Miss Wasilla award, and was also named Miss Congeniality in the same contest. After getting a degree in journalism from the University of Idaho, she entered politics, where she has made a name for herself as a fierce competitor but still deserving of that award she won in high school. Her service as mayor of Wasilla earned her recognition as one of Alaska’s up and coming leaders, and gave her the political limelight necessary to launch a campaign for lieutenant governor in 2002. She placed a close second in the Republican primary behind Loren Leman, which ensured her a future career in state politics. Governor Frank Murkowski appointed her to head the ethics board for the state Oil and Gas Commission, but she resigned after a rocky tenure that lasted less than a year. During her tenure, she came head-to-head with the rank corruption inside the Murkowski administration, and played a crucial role in the downfall of one Randy Ruedrich, who later resigned amid allegations of conflict of interest and using state resources to further the Alaska GOP. This confrontation played a key part in her political career, and it sparked her to publicly break with the Murkowski administration.
Palin had previously been mentioned for appointment to the US Senate or a second run for lieutenant governor, and had been a fairly loyal supporter of the administration. But what she saw inside the Murkowski Administration obviously scared her, because she proceeded to file ethics complaints against both Ruedrich and Attorney General Renkes. She deferred against challenging Murkowski’s daughter for her US Senate seat to challenge the governor himself, which led many party leaders to criticize her for challenging the established order.
She refused to play their game, and in June 2006, she beat a sitting governor in a primary, a first in Alaska’s history. Murkowski only received 19% of the vote in the primary, a stunning loss for a machine politician who was used to defeating his opponents by double-digit margins. Palin was the second woman to be nominated for the Governorship, and in November she became the first woman to ascend the governorship of Alaska. Her tenure has been widely acclaimed, especially for her reforms of Alaska’s energy contract process. Palin has also made headlines for taking the money that was earmarked for the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” and redistributing to other state projects that were more worthy. She has fought with the Republican dominated legislature on many issues, and she vetoed $237 million dollars in wasteful projects. She has been hailed as the most popular governor in the United States, and many polls place that rating well north of 80%, an impressive feat for any politician of either party, even in GOP-dominated Alaska.
These accomplishments show a good resume for any first-term governor, but they usually do not define the resume of a vice-presidential candidate. But one of Palin’s most admirable traits is her staunch opposition to the corruption that has long resided within the Alaska GOP. Whether it was Ruedrich’s uncovering, the ongoing troubles of father and son Stevens or the FBI probe of Don Young, Palin has stood against corruption, even when the corruption has netted leaders of her own party. Early this year she sent her own lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell, to unset Young in the primary. But the most defining aspect that leads me to support Palin is her character, which was expressed earlier this year with the birth of her fifth child, Trig. When it was revealed that Trig would have Down’s Syndrome, Palin responded with the tenacity of one who is known as an avid hunter who eats moose burgers. She decided the only correct course, which was to accept the child despite his unique challenges. Her decision flies in the face the overwhelming majority of these mothers who decide the opposite course when faced with this judgment. Knowing what I did about Sarah Palin, this news did not surprise me in the least, but it did reinforce the idea that despite not being a second -term governor of a large state, she is uniquely and obviously ready for the vice-presidency, and if need be, the presidency in a way that no one in the GOP is. And in this way, I believe that Sarah Palin will redefine the optimal vice-presidential pick in a year where the Republican Party needs redefining. In picking Palin, McCain will have to accept that she may be unable to actively campaign for the job in a way that many VP picks can, as she is unlikely to leave her family or her current job for the campaign trail. But, in this way, McCain can continue President Bush’s example of looking above electoral math for the vice-presidential pick. Palin, like Cheney, would not bring a large swing state to McCain, but she would be able to redefine the race and she would be a credible figure to present to the public as a potential successor.
There are a few difficulties with Palin as McCain’s number two. First is the practical one, the fact that she has a family and is governor of Alaska. Will the loss of an active campaign surrogate hurt McCain? Possibly, but even if she stays put in Alaska for the majority of the campaign, she can still record video messages and serve as the public face of the McCain campaign, which would serve the double advantage of introducing her to the public and portraying the campaign positively to a younger generation. She can replicate the front porch campaigns of old, and be the ambassador to the establishment, which will leave McCain to play to his strengths and wage an insurgent grassroots efforts to combat what will likely be months of mechanized Democratic hate. Second, her current commitments are much already, as shown above. But she would likely take this additional task with stride, just like all others she has taken in her life, with no Hillary-esque blathering. Third, and perhaps most importantly, is the oft-overlooked succession issue.
As mentioned above, her lieutenant governor is currently locked in a primary battle with the state’s only congressman. If Parnell wins the primary, it is likely he will win the House seat, as he will be an unburdened Republican facing off against a relatively unknown Democrat. If both she and Parnell leave the state house for Washington at the end of this year, the succession would be up for grabs. My original thinking was that it would go to Lyda Green, President of the Alaska Senate, a well-known opponent of Palin and a machine politician. Thankfully, however, Alaska law is not like many states, and instead provides for the governor to pick someone to succeed her in these conditions. Palin has picked her own Attorney General, Talis Colberg, who is well respected for being a reformer and relatively unconnected with partisan politics, and will likely continue her policies if elevated to the governorship.
With these objections satisfied, and a great deal of excitement for Palin’s unique persona and what she would bring to the table, I hereby endorse Sarah Palin for the Republican nomination to the Vice Presidency.
I welcome any comments, questions or hate mail that you have on this topic, and I invite all of my fellow contributors to offer their own thoughts on the subject. We as bloggers have power, and some of these same debates are likely raging inside McCain’s headquarters, and we should offer our own opinions on how McCain should make the difficult choice that will surely affect the future of the Republican Party.