Hannity will probably replay last night’s interview on today’s radio show. Here are some of my reactions to Part II of Hannity’s interview with Sarah Palin:
1. He asked about the Bridge to Nowhere, and she was not afraid of the topic. She said that she killed that Bridge, when there were powerful interests that wanted it for years. She’s actually right about that. As Yereth Rosen of the Christian Science Monitor reports, “Critics of the bridge projects pointed out that members of the [Governor Frank] Murkowski family own land on Gravina Island and business associates of [Senator Ted] Stevens and [Representative Don] Young, as well as a member of Young’s family, own land that would be accessed by the Knik Arm Bridge” (see here).
Palin could have spent federal money on the bridge had she so desired. In 2006, her predecessor, Governor Frank Murkowski, set aside money for it in the state budget, and this was after Congress allegedly “pulled the plug” on the earmark. When Sarah Palin came into office, however, she didn’t recommend any money for the bridge. And she had options that could have allowed her to build it. As Fred Barnes states:
“One option was simply to couple $300 million in state funds with the $100 million in federal money and build the bridge. Or Palin could have tapped other federal highway funds Alaska had received…Still another option was to use federal funds collected over a period of 3 or 4 years to construct the bridge” (see here).
So Palin killed the Bridge to Nowhere, when there were powerful interests that wanted it to continue. That story is now circulating all over the web, so it’s not surprising that Palin’s claim about the bridge has reappeared in her stump speeches (see here).
Although Palin killed the Bridge to Nowhere, she hasn’t yet pulled the plug on another wasteful bridge, Don Young’s Way (see here). But maybe there’s hope. She has expressed concern about its cost, as she did regarding the Bridge to Nowhere when she supported it. Hopefully, she’ll do the right thing and kill this boondoggle as well. We need politicians who are actually concerned about the cost of government projects.
2. Palin stated last night that war with Russia is off the table. And she said in her interview with Charlie Gibson that she prefers diplomacy or economic sanctions as ways to pressure Russia (see here). But she didn’t seem to take war with Russia completely off the table in the Gibson interview. Gibson asked, “And under the NATO treaty, wouldn’t we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?” And she replied, “Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you’re going to be expected to be called upon and help.” Is that a major flip-flop? Maybe not, since she emphasized diplomacy and economic sanctions to Gibson, as well as stressed that “we cannot repeat the Cold War.”
3. On Troopergate: I think it’s pretty obvious that the legislative inquiry is partisan, and I can understand why Palin would prefer for the Personnel Board to look into the matter. But part of me would love for her to be like President Jed Bartlett on the West Wing, when he was about to be enmeshed in scandal. He said, “I want you to find the most Bartlett-hating Republican careerist out there, and I’ll appoint him to be the special prosecutor.” I mean, if she has nothing to hide, then why not let her political enemies look into the situation? But, at the same time, she may be worried that they’ll twist things around.
4. Newt Gingrich tried to present her as knowledgeable of world events because she knew who Margaret Thatcher was. Don’t most people? Maybe. I don’t know what passes as general knowledge these days.
5. She appeared to be well-read, since she referred to a book on Lincoln’s cabinet. So I doubt that she’ll struggle if someone asks her to name her favorite books, as George W. Bush supposedly did in a debate. But she pointed out that Lincoln included people in his administration who disagreed with him. From what many have said, her administration doesn’t really do that. Or does it? Her transition team expressed concern about the costliness of the Bridge to Nowhere, in a time when she somewhat supported it. And she ended up heeding its advice. So maybe she does listen to those who disagree with her.
6. Palin said she doesn’t shove her faith down people’s throats. And she very well may not. In Palin’s Pals, I noted that she’s friends with people who do not agree with her on certain issues, and they don’t seem to delve much into controversy when they hang out. But she does believe in evangelism. In her speech to the Wasilla Assemblies of God, she said that a red-haired boy would draw people to Christ because of his carrot-top (or something like that–see here and here). Also, I’ve seen her give glory to God on a couple of occasions. In the 1990’s, when her husband Todd won the snowmobile race, she told an interviewer that God is good and has blessed her richly. And (if I’m not mistaken) that was before she even entered politics, so she wasn’t out to appease the religious right.
7. Her answer on Iraq was standard Bush-fare: We need to win in Iraq because our enemies acknowledge it as a central location in the War on Terror, plus we won’t do well in Afghanistan if Iraq is owned by the terrorists. These are good points, but I wish she had pointed out specifically where the Bush Administration was wrong on Iraq: in her mind, what did it do wrong, and what would she have done instead? On some level, she has expressed her dissatisfaction with Bush’s war policies in the past (see Sarah Palin on Iraq), but she didn’t give a lot of specifics. If she were to elaborate on this, she could establish herself as a problem-solver with a grasp on nuances. I’m not saying she needs to be an expert, but it would be nice if she gave us something more than the usual Bush-cliches.
8. I have a hard time labelling Sarah Palin a flip-flopper–someone who changes her positions on issues. Rather, she seems to be someone who has second-thoughts about her positions, even as she holds them. What do I mean by this? Even when she supported the Bridge to Nowhere, she expressed concern about its cost. Even when she doubted that humans are the cause of climate change, she established a cabinet post to investigate and address the issue. And she’s allowing her son to go to Iraq, even though she said on a few occasions that the war is partly about energy.
Her friends can say that she’s open-minded, and her enemies can say that she’s unstable and contradicts herself. Perhaps. What’s ironic is that the opposite is usually stated. Her supporters view her as a woman with solid conviction–who knows where she stands and will make her decisions without hesitation (unlike, say, Barack Obama, who said Iran wasn’t much of a threat, before acknowledging that it is). And her enemies view her as a zealot. Both may be right and wrong in a number of respects.
To some, she may appear like she’s making up her positions as she goes along. But maybe she’s open-minded and wants to look into things. After all, liberals criticize Bush because he does what he wants and doesn’t listen to those who disagree with him. Perhaps Palin is different. At the same time, we don’t want a leader who’s always listening to different points of view and doesn’t act (Bill Clinton). Palin may bring a proper balance of open-mindedness and conviction, which will serve her well in a McCain Administration.
9. Like a lot of evangelicals, she’s into “worldviews.” She mentioned Bush’s worldview in the Charlie Gibson interview. In the Hannity interview, she referred to Barack Obama’s worldview (I think that’s the context in which she used the word). I’m not sure what to make of this. It just interests me.
10. She said that the hits she’s gotten are nothing compared to the hits that the American people have taken. We’ve heard this line from the Clintons and John Edwards (see Some Political News). Is Palin making an appeal to Hillary Clinton’s supporters? Or did she use that line just because it sounded good?
The problem with the line is that it makes her look elitist–she’s setting herself apart from the American people. It implies she’s a spoiled politician who doesn’t experience what everyday people have to go through. And she doesn’t have to go that route. She has a son in Iraq, for Pete’s sake! Governor Palin, please don’t imitate Hillary!