The girl next door goes to Washington

Our governor – who I predicted would be John McCain’s VP running mate – was officially named his running mate today. She’s literally the girl next door to many of us here. She looked a bit uncomfortable today speaking to a national audience as just a local, small town mother who happens to be the governor of our state. Our book keeper and long time fish customer lives right next to the governors house here in Juneau, so Gov. Palin and her family are literally our neighbors.

She’s as real a person as I’ll likely ever know in national politics. As the indictments reach double digits here for Alaskan Republicans, she ran essentially as an independent on a “Republican” platform, and won resoundingly. Her popularity is unmatched here – I don’t think Governor Hammond had her popularity while in office – but acquired it as hindsight showed his independent leadership and his popularity grew over time after he left office.

Palin is the next Harry Truman, I think, not necessarily in her values but her origins. She’s going to be a handful for Washington insiders and lobbyists to deal with, since she’s everything they are not- a rural person with rural traditions and values. How many who live in DC go hunting because that’s what they eat, and not for the trophy? I’m off hunting tomorrow for moose, and like our governor, it’s not for the trophy, but for the meat and the tradition, regardless of whether or not I could buy beef at a lower cost at the store. When I eat a steak, I have no connection to the land that the cow came from – although certainly a rancher might.

Some will think she’s bitten off more than she can chew, but I think people thinking she’s “inexperienced” or “not ready to be president” means she hasn’t played the DC game long enough to know “the system”.

Her husband, Todd, also works on the slope – boy howdy, is his alternate making a fortune if he’s subbing for Todd while he’s called to his duties! NPR reporters are already saying she’s “inexperienced” because like all Washington insiders, they themselves are only used to Washington politics and what it takes to be a leader. Why can’t she do it – because she wasn’t born and raised in Washington instead of Wasilla? With much of Alaska’s politicians the children of former Alaskan politician, it’s nice to see a person who has made things happen totally on her own and not through the good old boy network that many second and third generation legislators gain their seats and power.

Sara and I both had goosebumps, I think, watching someone who was here yesterday and now is in Ohio running for national office and a heartbeat from the presidency if McCain wins. It’s like a dream right now, and will take some time to digest. Sara Palin could be from Allegany County, NY, where I’m from, and now potentially the next VP of the most powerful country in the world.

The sad part for us here is it will really leave the state in disarray if she wins. I think people will mostly wish her well – how many times do you get to run for VP? – but filling the leadership void she and potentially her Lt. Gov, Sean Parnell, is scary. Parnell is in a virtual tie with Don Young for our lone US Congress seat. About 150 votes separate the two, and there are a thousand or two absentee votes to count. If Parnell wins, then we’re not even sure who ascends the governor ship. If it’s the speaker of the house, it would be Lyda Green, and anti-Palinite who already has said she won’t run again, supposedly because polls show she couldn’t win her seat again. She’s from the same town as Palin, and lost favor as Palin has gained favor.

So, life here will be interesting. Her accepting the VP nomination comes at a time when the gas line in production but still uncertain. I’m sure the oil companies will be investing heavily in lobbying to try to regain any wrongs they’ve seen in the current Trans Canada deal to build the gas line. We Alaskans have been living large with free money every year for 2 decades, but oil production is about half of what it was at the peak. Everyone is looking for a new cash cow in the gasline, and so it’s the next great hope for Alaskans to continue paying no state taxes, and getting our free money every year.