My Chicago Boyz colleague James Bennett has a great op-ed piece on Gov. Sarah Palin in the UK Telegraph (hat tip Lexington Green). It’s one of the best concise pieces on Palin’s strengths – which most of the American press is desperately trying to ignore, either to help the Obama campaign with their scattergun negative personal attacks or in dumbing down their political coverage of Palin with warm-fuzzy topics to an intellectual level somewhere below that of People Magazine:
Sarah Palin is not such a Small Town Girl After All
…The first myth to slay is that she is a political neophyte who has come from nowhere. In fact, she and her husband have, for decades, run a company in the highly politicised commercial fishing industry, where holding on to a licence requires considerable nous and networking skills.
….Palin quickly realised that Alaska had the potential to become a much bigger player in global energy politics, a conviction that grew as the price of oil rose. Alaska had been in hock to oil companies since major production began in the mid-1970s.
As with most poor, distant places that suddenly receive great natural-resource wealth, the first generation of politicians were mesmerised by the magnificence of the crumbs falling from the table. Palin was the first of the next generation to realise that Alaska should have a place at that table. Her first target was an absurd bureaucratic tangle that for 30 years had kept the state from exporting its gas to the other 48 states. She set an agenda that centred on three mutually supportive objectives: cleaning up state politics, building a new gas pipeline, and increasing the state’s share of energy revenues.
This agenda, pursued throughout Palin’s commission tenure, culminated in her run for governor in 2006. By this time, she had already begun rooting out corruption and making enemies, but also establishing her bona fides as a reformer.
With this base, she surprised many by steamrollering first the Republican incumbent governor, and second, the Democratic former governor, in the election.Far from being a reprise of Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Palin was a clear-eyed politician who, from the day she took office, knew exactly what she had to do and whose toes she would step on to do it.
Read the rest here.