By Andrew Halcro
June 2, 2011: While the wheels on the bus go round and round, so too does the media speculation about former half term Governor Sarah Palin’s future plans. To Palin, media coverage of her actions and words has always been the equivalent of oxygen and she appears to be far from taking her last breath.
The plethora of columns dedicated to will she or won’t she run in the 2012 GOP primary has reached beyond the saturation point and it’s becoming increasingly clear that most pundits chasing Palin’s bus (both literally and metaphorically) are focusing on today’s vibe instead looking at tomorrow’s reverberations.
If I’m Romney, Pawlenty, Huntsman or even Bachman, I’m praying Palin gets in the race. For this is a candidate who not only failed to adequately govern before she quit on Alaskans, but she’s never matured as a serious public policy maker unless you call making snarky comments on Twitter and Facebook presidential.
Even ignoring the rapid downward spiral of her approval ratings, if she does enter the race, that singular event will do more to galvanize GOP leaders behind a chosen candidate than anything else. And while some like to refer to Palin as an unconventional candidate, winning an election still requires votes to win and support to get you votes.
If Palin declares her candidacy, her opponents would be wise to reload instead of retreat. In politics it’s far easier to reinforce negatives than to try and reverse them.
While the McCain team basically kept Palin pretty much hidden away from the media during the 2008 campaign, the select times she did sit for interviews or the one debate she participated in against now Vice President Biden, highlighted her lack of knowledge on key issues.
Three years later and nothing has changed. When was the last time you actually heard Palin offer up any policy solutions to the nation’s problems other than criticism of President Obama?
Primary politics are almost as nasty as general election politics, remember George W. Bush and John McCain in South Carolina circa 2000? The fact is Palin has never been subjected to such intense scrutiny and critique as she will face running for president.
For Palin’s potential primary opponents, isolating her questionable record as governor is as easy as hitting the broad side of her tour bus with a shovel.
She’s an energy expert…
No she’s not, unless you call raising oil & gas taxes to the highest levels in state history, violating oil & gas companies right to due process and committing the state to spending $500 million on a natural gas pipeline to nowhere.
Back in 2008, John McCain claimed that Palin “knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America.” We Alaskans know better.
Palin’s record on energy is very clear and it’s not very pretty. And despite what she said as recent as May 31 about being a governor of a state that contributes twenty percent of America’s oil, she has been constantly corrected since 2008 that the actual number is thirteen percent.
In 2007, Palin riding a wave of populism, proposed raising oil taxes to the tune of $650 million based on a $95 barrel of oil. Two months later she signed legislation that raised taxes based on a $95 barrel of oil by $2.4 billion.
Writing in the Anchorage Daily News at the time, Juneau economist Gregg Erickson quipped, “It was as if Gov. Sarah Palin asked the Legislature for a nice sensible winter jacket and they sent her a full-length mink parka with a wolverine ruff, seal skin trim, and a catalytic hand warmer in each pocket.”
Erickson went on to write, “A beaming Palin didn’t seem to mind as she walked into the Capitol’s third-floor conference room a couple of weeks ago to laud legislators for passing a bill boosting revenue by almost four times more than she had proposed in her Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share bill.”
During the debate over the increasingly out of control tax hike, a Chevron executive testified that Palin’s bill was generally expected to raise about $600 million more. However revisions approved by Palin administration officials increased that number to $1.5 (billion) to $2.0 billion more than the existing tax rate. The executive went on to say the tax hike was far more than the ‘fair and equitable,’ tax hike that Palin had originally proposed.
So what happened?
Palin did what she always seemed to do; held a press conference, introduced legislation and then walked away disinterested to let her anti-oil administration shepperd it through the legislative process, jacking up the rates at every turn. When she was asked about the dramatic changes in the tax rates, Palin claimed the bill wasn’t much different than her version.
Today, Governor Sean Parnell, Palin’s former Lt. Governor, is calling the tax hike a job and investment killer and has vowed to roll back the enormous tax hike approved by Palin.
In 2006, when Palin was elected governor, Alaska was pumping 759,000 barrels of oil per day according to Alyeska Pipeline Company. When she left office in 2009, oil production had dropped to 672,000 barrels per day. Today, with oil company executives saying Palin’s tax increase has stymied investment on Alaska’s North Slope, the state is pumping roughly 605,000 barrels per day.
And who can forget Palin’s bizarre explanation concerning oil & gas development to a Michigan crowd during the 2008 campaign?
But that’s not all concerning Palin’s poor record on oil & gas development. Remember the natural gas pipeline that Palin trumpeted during the 2008 campaign?
After signing legislation that awarded up to $500 million in taxpayer cash to a company that already admitted they couldn’t build the project themselves, Governor Palin took credited for turning dirt and laying pipe during her address at the Republican National Convention on September 3, 2008.
“As governor, I insisted on competition and basic fairness to end their control of our state and return it to the people. I fought to bring about the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history. And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly 40 billion-dollar natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence.“
A month later, she once again claimed to be laying pipe during the Vice Presidential debate on October 2, 2008.
“Even in my own energy producing state, we have hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of clean green natural gas, and we’re building the nearly forty billion dollar natural gas pipeline, which is North America’s largest and most expensive infrastructure project.”
But the reality is that under Palin’s leadership, the meaning of “competition and basic fairness” has turned out to mean spending $500 million of taxpayers cash on a pipeline to nowhere.
I can see a thirty second attack ad on Palin’s tax hike and colossal natural gas pipeline fiasco from my porch.
Finally, while her soon to be released movie will portray her as a governor who stood up to big oil, the court records show that Palin’s petty pursuit of Exxon did little more than attempt to violate their right to due process.
She’s fiscally conservative…
During the 2006 gubernatorial campaign for governor, Sarah Palin spoke often about how she was going to cut state spending, review agency operations then prioritize state spending and cut those services that were not “constitutionally mandated”. The words “finding efficiencies” seemed to be laced in every speech.
Ironically, in her September 2008 interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson, Palin repeated the same budgeting gibberish for the federal government as she offered up during her 2006 gubernatorial run. “We’re going to find efficiencies in every department. We have got to.”
When she was pressed by Gibson about specifics, Palin repeated her soundbite logic, “I am sure that there are efficiencies that are going to be found in all of these agencies. I’m confident in that.”
However her record as governor showed no such leadership on finding efficiencies in the state’s budget.
In January 2007, Governor Palin’s initial budget proposed reducing state spending by $150 million for the fy08 budget. Six months later she signed the largest budget in state history. And although most of the press focused on the $231 million she vetoed from the capital budget, the fact is both the operating and the capital budgets came in at a combined $350 million higher than what she promised.
Along that same failed promise came the rate of savings. While saving for the future was the clarion call in justifying cuts to the capital budget, the $127 million she had promised to save ended up being just $5.6 million according to the Office of Management and Budget.
In December 10, 2007 Governor Palin introduced her administration’s proposed fy09 operating budget. The administration touted a plan to hold operating state operating expenses to just a 4 percent increase,
However when Palin’s budget proposal was analyzed by the legislative finance division, the administration’s budget was found to be a 15 percent increase in spending, not the 4 percent as was originally advertised.
In an interview in March of 2008 with Anne Sutton of the Associated Press, Palin’s Budget Director Karen Rehfeld said, “Until Alaskans decide what public services they don’t want us to deliver any longer as a state, any significant reduction in the operating budget is going to be difficult.”
Three months later Governor Palin signed the largest operating budget in the state’s history at $6.1 billion, a 9% increase over her previous record budget.
Palin’s creative budgeting was far from conservative and she left office in 2009 by signing the most expensive operating budget in state history.
She resigned due to ethics complaints…
Nice excuse but hard to swallow. Given Frank Bailey’s recent tell all book, “Blind Allegiance” detailing how Palin was uninterested in being governor after tasting the high life of national politics, ethic complaints and the associated legal costs were the last thing that made Palin resigned.
In fact, the numbers show that Palin’s largest legal bills came from her steadfast refusal to answer questions during the Troopergate investigation and her battle with the ethics committee over the state paying for her family to travel to events.
In addition, Palin established a legal defense fund that raised significant money to help cover her bills caused by her own doing.
Closer to the truth would be that Palin was no longer interested in being governor. In October 2008 she emailed Bailey saying “pray that we win so we can all get out of that place.” On April 28, 2009, Sarah wrote a simple, but frequently repeated message according to Bailey: “I hate this damn job…”
Even her actions during the months preceding her abrupt resignation shows she was more interested in her own public relations than governing Alaska.
After nominating controversial local attorney Wayne Anthony Ross for Attorney General, Palin left town the day before the confirmation vote to give a speech in Indiana. Meanwhile, her nominees outrageous comments prior to his confirmation vote resulted in him being the first nominee in state history to be voted down by the legislature.
Also, while Palin has touted her work on ethics reform, she could have exercised real leadership and stuck out her term while working with the legislature to pass legislation to protect future governor’s from having to pay the cost of frivolous complaints.
She quit because she was tired of the job, the responsibility of governing and the preoccupation with making money.
As Bailey wrote in his book, “From the beginning of 2009, Sarah’s Chief of Staff Nizich along with Lt. Governor Sean Parnell assumed most of Sarah’s administrative duties,” and “Sarah hadn’t ever really been a full-time governor before being nabbed by McCain…punishing enemies and wealth accumulation became a full-time job.”
As the late former Governor Walter J. Hickel, Palin’s gubernatorial campaign co-chair back in 2006, said towards the end of Palin’s brief stint as governor; “Sarah has become all about Sarah.”
Shooting fish in a barrel…
Palin’s record of governing is an opponents dream. It’s obviously the driving force behind her attempt to rewrite history by supporting the soon to be released propaganda film about her brief time as governor.
However, Palin is far from the unconventional politician many call her. Contrary to that claim, she is completely predictable.
Back in August of 2008, just one day after she was chosen by McCain to be the VP nominee, I wrote a blog about her strengths and weaknesses. “Palin will need to learn that reporters are hanging on her every word and that the level of scrutiny from the press will be relentless. The lack of domestic and foreign policy knowledge will become problematic if Palin doesn’t become a fast learner.”
Within a few months it was clear that Palin failed to learn much at any rate and was mocked consistently on the campaign trail for her lack of knowledge and her inability to answer even the easiest of questions.
Almost three years later and nothing has changed. She hasn’t become more educated on world events, she hasn’t matured as a leader and she hasn’t increased her curb appeal to moderate Republicans and Independents.
Even this week on her non-campaign campaign bus tour, she stepped in it twice, showing just how clearly her words have never matched her record as governor.
Earlier in the week she stated that government energy subsidies should be eliminated. Try and reconcile that with the $500 million subsidy she granted as governor to Transcanada, to build her pipeline to nowhere.
Today, she attacked GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney for his health care plan because it constituted a government mandate.
According to RealClearPolitics, Palin said, “However, even on a state level and a local level, mandates coming from a governing body, it’s tough for a lot of us to accept because we have great faith in the private sector.”
Once again, try and reconcile that with the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) that Palin passed as governor, which was nothing more than government mandates on oil & gas companies trying to force them to pay for a $40 billion natural gas pipeline after they all testified that her plan was not economicaslly viable.
With the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court and its huge impact on shaping campaign attack messaging, Palin is an opponents dream…if she runs.
Read More Andrew has posts dating back to 07. Watch how ‘ TrooperGate’ actually broke!!