It’s a Mystery Why the Tea Party Loves Sarah Palin

Rightfully or not, Sarah Palin is claiming major credit for helping Republicans take over the US House and almost grab the Senate. She is the presumptive favorite among Tea Party conservatives as the candidate to beat for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

By Matt Zencey

To those of us who witnessed Palin’s short-lived career as Alaska’s governor, the passionate Tea Party enthusiasm for her is one of the great mysteries of the universe.

Apparently few of the Tea Party faithful are familiar with her record back in Alaska. As governor, she ran the kind of big government they despise and showed a slick politician’s slippery regard for ethical propriety and truth.

While governor, Sarah Palin supported and signed the largest tax increase in Alaska’s history. That change in oil taxes, which she dubbed ACES (“Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share”), cost the state’s largest industry an extra $4 billion.

In 2007, the first full year of her term, she and the Legislature added $1.4 billion to the previously passed budget. For that year, Alaska state government spent 50 percent more, per resident, than the next highest spending state.

As governor, Palin vetoed some pork barrel items state legislators stuffed into the budget, but she did not reverse the steady growth of state government spending. In fact, she pushed through the kind of expensive government handout a Democrat might love. As oil prices spiked to $140, and oil money poured into the treasury, she persuaded the Legislature to give each Alaskan – man, woman and child — an extra $1,200 of state money as an “energy rebate.”

A liberal columnist for the state’s largest newspaper, Elstun Lauesen, said Palin was “a pretty good socialist governor.” Alaska’s most prominent conservative commentator, Dan Fagan, repeatedly blasted her for being too liberal, especially on oil taxes.

Like many of the career politicians who enrage the Tea Party, Palin took advantage of lax financial rules for her own gain. She charged the state for “travel” expenses — a per diem allowance for meals — while living at her home in Wasilla and commuting to the governor’s office in Anchorage.

Palin repeatedly billed the state for bringing her children along on state trips. Facing an ethics complaint on the matter, Palin agreed to repay the state for ten trips her children took. On one of the state-paid trips, Palin took her daughter to New York City and stayed in a $700 a night hotel room.

Palin also had use of a state car for her commute to the office from Wasilla. When the media started asking if she’d paid federal income taxes on this benefit from her employer, she abruptly turned the car in and never answered the question.

In one ethics case against her, involving a legal defense fund set up for her benefit, the state ethics investigator found “probable cause to believe that Governor Palin used, or attempted to use, her official position for personal gain in violation of Alaska statute.”

Palin ran for governor on the promise to run an open and transparent administration. But she had a private email network set up so she and her aides could conduct state business without having it show up in official state records. Those private emails may have contained important evidence about whether Palin was telling the truth in the Troopergate scandal, but investigators never recovered them.

A governor who set high ethics standards would have fired the aide who was caught on tape in the Troopergate scandal, trying to get Palin’s ex-brother-in-law fired from the state troopers. Palin kept the aide on her staff.

Like many politicians, Sarah Palin knows how to stretch the truth. She was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it. She astonished Alaskans by claiming the Legislature’s investigation into the Troopergate scandal “vindicated” her — when in fact it found probable cause she had violated state law.

Sarah Palin’s appeal to politically-alienated anti-government conservatives in the Lower 48 dumbfounds those of us who witnessed her career in Alaska. She criticizes big government, but she ran a big government in Alaska and gave it more money. She ran as an ethics crusader, but she took advantage of loopholes in ethics laws. She routinely defended herself with the classic politician’s excuse — what I did wasn’t against the law.

If Tea Partiers would think for a moment before lapping up Palin’s anti-government platitudes, they’d see Sarah Palin for what she is: one more ambitious, angle-playing politician who will do or say whatever it takes to further her career.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Syrin
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 15:03:43

    OMG!!! This is something to behold.
    Apparently few of the Tea Party faithful are familiar with her record back in Alaska. As a governor, she ran the kind of big government they despise and showed a slick politician’s slippery regard for ethical propriety and truth.


  2. AFM
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 18:04:28

    Well you need to ask why was she elected? It’s all the T&A, and that wink. She had nothing on her shoulders. I curse the day McCain put her on the national stage. But then again the republicans of today aren’t the republicans of 25 years ago when the word “compromise” was a good thing. The republicans of today want to dismantle everything. How sad. Like I said before what is wrong with the republican party, why are they so happy to keep electing people that don’t really care about the working people in the country and only keep electing idiots? There use to be moderate and yes even liberal republicans. Today you have the right and the extreme right.


  3. molly malone
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 13:55:09

    AFM, you are right. There actually used to be Republicans who had the best interests of America at heart, and who worked to honor their responsibilities to its citizens.

    And what are Republicans’ stated objectives now? Deprive 30 million Americans of medical insurance by repealing the health care bill, privatize Social Security, dismantle federal regulations, cut taxes on millionaires and billionaires, block financial reform, vote against the stimulus bill, demonize unions and the ACLU, and employ 24/7 fear mongering. It’s pretty clear the current crop of Republicans are not working for the American people.

    Who are they working for? One has only to ask “Who benefits?”


  4. akbatwoman
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 21:42:24

    Like Palin, Tea Partiers do not always seem based in reality. Palin sees herself as a national political pundit/presidential candidate, a FOX NEWS commentator, a professional speaker, a TV star, a celebrated best selling author, an energy and foreign relations expert, an advocate for Downs Syndrome and Autistic Children, and the de facto leader of the Tea Party Movement, while simultaneously home schooling various of her children, living a subsistance lifestyle, being the perfect stay-at-home PTA hockey mom, doting on her grandchild and spending the ever more important “quantity time” with her children, rather than the inferior “quality time” that working Liberal mothers tend to spend with their own children.

    Palin has apparently not only been able to delude herself into believing that she does all of the above Very Well (I’ll give her some credit for the first four), she has also managed to delude a lot of other people into believing that she was a fantastically successful, ethical, hard working, fiscally conservative, half term governor.

    I guess that none of the loyal followers ever ask themselves how Sarah Palin can cram all of these accomplishments into a year, much less a weekly lifestyle. It never dawns on them that it isn’t even physically possible.

    However, what Sarah Palin is really good at; is blowing her own horn, taking credit for the work of others, talking people out of their hard earned cash, lying, and deflecting blame when things go horribly wrong. She’s a modern day Soapy Smith!


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