Talk About An Outsider!

More thoughts on Sarah Palin:

John McCain must have been cognizant of the stark contrast between Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s Veep choice, and his own selection. Biden has done nothing since he was in his 20s other than sit in the Senate. He is a caricature of the worst sort of Washington politician, a person of limited ability who is intimately tied in to various interests and lobbyists and who, in more than three decades, has done nothing to improve the way Washington works or to contribute creatively to any public policy issue. Biden is a Washington insider in the worst sense of the word.

In a national context Sarah Palin would have been an outsider, to an extraordinary degree, had she been a conventional governor of Alaska, our most exotic state. In fact, though, she is an outsider even in Alaska politics. She is from the Matanuska Valley, a place where I have spent quite a bit of time. It is only an hour or so from Anchorage, but the Valley is often regarded by Anchorage folk as an embarrassing outback. Its residents, some of whom live on a subsistence basis, tend to be regarded with suspicion.

So Palin was an upstart in every possible way when she challenged Frank Murkowski, the former Senator and entrenched Republican Governor who, among other things, appointed his daughter Lisa to succeed him in the Senate. Palin was opposed by the entire Republican establishment in Alaska, including Senator Ted Stevens–after whom the Anchorage airport is named–and Congressman Don Young. Notwithstanding the hostility of her party’s elder statesmen, Palin defeated Murkowski in the primary. She then faced the popular former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles in the general election. In what would have been considered an extraordinary upset just a few months earlier, Palin trounced Knowles, despite reported efforts by her own party’s leaders to defeat her. As Governor, she has enjoyed approval ratings in the 80s.

So it is hard to imagine a more complete outsider, in terms of national politics, than Sarah Palin. She ran and was elected as a reformer, has governed successfully as such, and owes nothing whatever to anyone in Washington. Personally, I’m not as anti-Washington as many conservatives, but it would be just about unAmerican not to root for a rebel and outsider like Palin.

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