Normally, I wouldn’t go out of my way to speak up for a candidate like Gov. Sarah Palin. But, setting aside her specific views on various policies like women’s health, the environment, gay rights, teaching creationism in public schools, etc., let me zero in on one point: Sen. Ted Stevens. Let me explain.
New to the national scene, there’s been some talk that she “stood up” to the Republican Party in her state. True, and impressive on its own, but lets get to the kicker. She faced off with* Sen. Ted Stevens* — the longest serving Republican senator in history, one of the most powerful men in Washington and a beloved figure in Alaska. He’s a man who, a few weeks after being indicted on corruption-related charges, wins his Senate primary! He’s known by his paternalistic nickname “Uncle Ted” all over the state. He’s called “the most famous Alaskan!” He wears a Hulk tie on the Senate floor to get himself fired up! (Don’t make him angry.)
So, let me give her some credit where it’s due. Palin looked at Stevens’ most infamous $400 million earmark for a “bridge to nowhere” that made the rest of the country pause and wonder what’s going on up north — and she said: NO! That’s right, the self-described hockey mom, with a short political history, having served as governor for only a little over a year swaggered up to the most influential man in her state and said *no. *Yeah!
I don’t know how she’ll do on the national stage. She could end up trounced by the national press, particularly after debating the seasoned Sen. Joe Biden. And perhaps we’ll hear stories that undermine this one, but until then, she’s got a special spot in my book.
Update: Mark Schmidt over at TAPPED says Sarah Palin did NOT oppose the bridge to nowhere, citing her limp quote: “Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here [...] But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.” From what I can tell she did. Congress let Alaska hang on to the dough, but they didn’t have to spend it on the bridge project. Here’s where Palin makes her mark. Rather than spending the money how Stevens wanted, she redirected the funds. Now, maybe that sounds like a no-brainer. The project was wildly unpopular nationally and really an embarrassment to the state. But let’s put in context. This is Alaska. They make decisions all the time seem that would seem like no brainers to the rest of us (ie: maybe we shouldn’t allow people to hunt wolves from helicopters– that’s a video game, not a sport people!) Palin could have stood with Stevens on this, but she didn’t. Credit for that. Now on to all of the points that probably matter more.
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