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by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St Clair

Sarah Palin's Job: Fire Up Anti-Abortion Zealots

Sure, we know. She's a wolf killer, bear hunter, would-be driller in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She backs the Pebble Creek gold mine, scheduled as the world's largest, right next to the salmon-rich bay after which she and Todd named their second daughter. She tried to get her former brother-in-law bounced from his job as a cop. Nobody's perfect. After all, she was only runner-up in the Miss Alaska competition in '86.

But the liberal attacks on Palin are absurd to the point of lunacy.

Experience. Given the highly experienced maniacs who have been destroying this country decade after decade, one would have thought that the E word would be an immediate disqualification.

At its best, American populism is irreverent to power and never more bracing than when suggesting that one of the regular, ordinary folks could do it better. That's the constituency in Alaska that responded to Palin and that put her in the governor's mansion. Liberals who don't follow Alaska politics probably don't understand the extent of her achievement. Only Louisiana, another oil rich state, outstrips Alaska in luxuriant corruption, and for years, it was run by Ted Stevens, Frank Murkowski and Don Young. Palin outmaneuvered them all in four years, which took courage and cunning. She took down the great power in her own party, Gov. Murkowski.

This trio were themselves in the pockets of the oil companies, who were not happy to see them go. Palin, while an ardent supporter of drilling, has taken a more populist approach, for the first time levying a state tax on oil industry profits and returning this in rebates to Alaska residents. To put it mildly, this is unusual in American politics, and you have to go back to the southern populists and indeed to Louisiana and Huey Long to find precedents.

Barack Obama apparently took notice of what Palin was doing as governor of Alaska. His energy plan lifts three central elements from her program: a windfall profits' tax on the oil companies, an energy rebate tax, and the development of a transcontinental natural gas pipeline from Prudhoe Bay across Canada to the Midwest. Palin publicly praised Obama for his plan, though the story in the Alaska Daily News about this endorsement has since been removed from her Web site for obvious reasons.

Much of the venom against Palin is clearly class-based. Sarah and her husband, Todd -- a quarter Yu'pik -- are working class. So, from the elites, we get endless sermons on the theme that somehow McCain's choice is "an insult" to American women, particularly feminists. Why wasn't the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, the most endlessly submissive and humiliated wife in the nation's political history -- at least on the public record -- derided as "an insult" to feminist aspirations?

Actually, Todd seems to us a sign that things have moved on from the gloomy portrait of the American working class male offered us by Susan Faludi. Faludi's blue-collar, backlashing male lived in rage and anguish at his lost estate as breadwinner and lord of the hearth. We don't detect signs of this kind of angst from Todd, a member of the steelworkers' union who seems at ease as a supportive husband and, more importantly, father.

If she makes it to the vice president's office, Sarah Palin will no doubt shake things up. Liberals gasp with rage that she's had friendly relations with the Alaska Independence Party and put on a Buchanan button when he came to Anchorage. These are encouraging signs of independence, and hopefully of some reserve about the neo-cons.

Of course, the bottom line for liberals, particularly women, is her position on choice. Which is the image you prefer: a story that Sarah Palin aborted her baby once she was told of its Down syndrome, and counseled Bristol to abort her baby so as not to damage her political campaign? Or the course that Sarah Palin did take, consistent with her outlook on life and her beliefs?

So someone opposed to choice might become vice president. What about all the politicians nominally favoring choice who have made it virtually impossible since Roe vs. Wade for working women to have practical, effective choice? The liberals attack Palin for her position on sex education. But when Jocelyn Elders, Clinton's surgeon general, spoke publicly about the merits of masturbation and condoms, she was immediately fired. There are postures, and there are principled positions. We prefer the latter.

© Creators Syndicate

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Albion Monitor   September 4, 2008   (

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