By ART CHANCE
I’ve had a nodding acquaintance with Sarah Palin since her days as mayor of Wasilla. I worked in the Frank Murkowski Administration with her and she was usually at Monday morning staff meetings with the commissioner of Administration, as was I.
I was peripherally involved in the events leading up to her leaving the Murkowski Administration to become every Democrat’s favorite Republican. Unlike most who aren’t Palin fans, I know why I’m not one. Facing the prospect of either working for her or for Gov. Tony Knowles again after the 2006 election was my principal reason for deciding my State career was over on July 1, 2006.
I’ve never met Kari Lake, Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, but I saw a lot of her while I was in Tucson for the last couple of months. The Democrats haven’t dragged out or made up any old love affairs or corrupt bargains so they’re left with their “extremism” stock in trade. I’m surprised they haven’t dragged out some pencil-necked boy who has worked with her to tell the snowflakes how mean and heartless she is. She strikes me as a very driven and organized woman. I watched several hours of her campaign and interview appearances over the last couple of months and there is never a misstep, gaffe, or flubbed line.
Lake is an interesting contrast to Palin.
Republicans have long had women running for and winning political office. Jeanette Rankin of Montana was the first woman elected Congress and took office even before women could vote. After Rankin, there were always a smattering of women in the Congress; more Democrats than Republicans, but then the Democrats had hegemony over the Congress from 1932 until 1994 except for one House session in the 1940s.
The women elected to Congress were uniformly matronly. Into the 1960s and beyond, they were very much 50-ish, and of the hat and gloves style of dress. Into the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher, the most powerful woman the modern world had yet seen, was firmly set in the matron image, as was Sandra Day O’Connor the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice, although she had a bit of a cowgirl ambiance.
The Democrats began, though tentatively, the paradigm change with their vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. She was a younger, and less the dowdy matron, though still conservative in dress and mannerisms. Fast forward to Hillary Clinton; despite her master’s thesis on Saul Alinsky and some vestigial “we want the world and we want it now” 1960s karma, her image was still that of a “stand by your man” wife and mother; she was downright frumpy at times. Somewhere in the 1990s, the modern Democrat woman image began to coalesce; the granola girl was a part of it, but the screeching harpie became the face of the Democrats; think pussy hats and “I am an angry woman.”
The Republicans went another way; the dowdy matron was gone. A new woman emerged; she was a young-looking 40-something, attractive, fashionably but not ostentatiously dressed, but more importantly she was smart, vivacious, and had a sharp tongue. Michele Bachman is the first that comes to my mind but others followed, including Sarah Palin.
Sarah flew closer to the sun with her run for the vice presidency. Those of us familiar with her cringed whenever she stepped before a microphone; a word salad was the usual result. But she became quite good at the off the cuff quip and the 15-second sound bite. I’ll give her credit for being one of the all-time best at the sound bite that sums up an issue and delivers a bite to the opposition.
I won’t give her any credit for having a clue about developing and implementing coherent policy. She flew with the winds; a Republican governor gave the Democrats their fondest dream with ACES oil taxes, and she probably still doesn’t know what a foolish thing she did. Nobody knows what happened to a half a billion dollars she gave to TransCanada for a vaporware gas line. You can lay most every bad thing in Alaska politics in the last dozen years or so at her feet: She called for Sen. Ted Stevens’ resignation and defeat. She endorsed Bill Walker. She propped up Joe Miller. Now she’s dropped in and helped elect a Democrat to Alaska’s only House seat for the first time in 50 years. But she’s still pretty, perky Sarah and those who only know her from TV just love her.
Kari Lake is the latest iteration of the modern Republican paradigm; attractive, fashionable but not ostentatiously so, and has a rapier wit and equally sharp tongue. She’s a former reporter and news anchor who can chew up and spit out snarky young lefty reporters with alacrity. She’s who we needed when Sarah was getting chewed up by that dimwit Katie Couric or being danced a merry reel by the lefties with information requests.
I write this on Election Day. Kari Lake has a pretty good shot at being governor of Arizona tomorrow, or within a few days anyway.
Sarah has a pretty good shot at being back in New York with her hockey player boyfriend.
Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon.