Parsing Sarah Palin

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Poor Sarah Palin, erstwhile GOP vice presidential candidate and soon-to-be former governor of Alaska. We’ve been mean to her. Our hostility likely pushed her right out of her gubernatorial seat. What’s the poor thing going to do with herself now?

Um, write.

Indeed, Palin signed a contract in May with HarperCollins Publishers for the next public-figure-reveals-true-and-endearing-essence-of-self blockbuster, due in 2010 with some help from a ghostwriter. And Tuesday, she had an op-ed piece published in The Washington Post, “The Cap and Tax Dead End.”

arcticI, myself, a lover of our wonderful nation of ours, and a benefitter of the energy-rich state of Palin’s hometown Alaska that could feed the many hungry markets of the lower forty-eight, would Alaska just get the go-ahead from Washington bureaucrats to start up those drills in that tiny corner up there of the wildlife refuge, because it is our patriotic duty to use the resources that God created right underfoot on American soil and, um … Where was that sentence going?

Oh, was that mean? OK, sorry, Sarah. It could be that I’m jealous: I don’t have a book deal with HarperCollins and I can write a proper sentence without a ghostwriter’s assistance. Neither has The Washington Post seen fit to publish my considered opinions, and I have plenty of them.

Nonetheless, that caveat offered, what I really meant to write was that I had no idea Palin could actually, well, write. Who knew?

Should I have deduced it from her self-description in a report on her book deal?

Being a voracious reader, I read a lot today and have read a lot growing up. And having that journalism degree, all of that, will be a great assistance for me in writing this book, talking about the challenges and the joys, balancing the work and parenting, and, in my case, work means running the state. … I've read a variety of books, and that helps shape my opinions and my views.

Her opinions and her views, hmm. How does she distinguish the two? And that journalism degree is actually in communications, with an emphasis on journalism. Such degrees are often a get-me-the-hell-out-of-college route for students with mediocre intellectual gifts or an abundance of distractions — in her case, perhaps both.

Oops, that was mean. I knew it as the letters appeared on my screen. Sorry, Sarah.

Anyway, I figured her op-ed piece would surely reveal her writing skills, her ability to grasp a complex concept, explain it to the average newspaper reader, and offer her studied opinion about its cause or a possible resolution. So I took a look at the piece.

She first tells us how worrisome the economy and unemployment are, and that the federal government continues to misbehave — ¡qué sorpresa!

There is no shortage of threats to our economy. America's unemployment rate recently hit its highest mark in more than 25 years and is expected to continue climbing. Worries are widespread that even when the economy finally rebounds, the recovery won't bring jobs. Our nation's debt is unsustainable, and the federal government's reach into the private sector is unprecedented.

Unfortunately, she never explains what she means by that last sentence, which left me imagining the government’s long arm up one of those short skirts of hers, but I figured her husband had already set that precedent.

Ooo, I know — mean, mean, mean! Sorry, Sarah!

Next, she repeats her complaint that the media attack her when they should be focusing on the grave challenges of our day, but then I questioned why she keeps bringing it up — maybe she’s being coy?

Unfortunately, many in the national media would rather focus on the personality-driven political gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges. So, at risk of disappointing the chattering class, let me make clear what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be: I am deeply concerned about President Obama's cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy.

I had to give her negative points for revisiting her standard social slur, class, but I was encouraged that she was poised to explain the concept of cap-and-trade policy for pollution management and how it could threaten us.

It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage. … [I]n Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. Consequently, many of us in this huge, energy-rich state recognize that the president’s cap-and-trade energy tax would adversely affect every aspect of the U.S. economy.

So, she tells us the Obama policy is a threat because it will damage us, she touts Alaska — a favorite non sequitor of hers — and then she repeats her accusation sans substantiation. Alas, she explains nothing.*

Uh-oh, I guess that was mean, too. Again, sorry, Sarah.

She goes on to write that Obama’s plan would create job loss and higher prices for just about everything, but she doesn’t say how, she doesn’t cite any analyses, she doesn’t say nada, although she does deliver a divisive little wedge into the festering gap between liberals and conservatives:

The ironic beauty in [Obama’s energy] plan? Soon, even the most ardent liberal will understand supply-side economics.

Of course, Palin has not demonstrated any understanding of economics — and I think she’s being a little mean to liberals. Nonetheless, I read a bit more, looking for her fix for the disaster she foresees.

We must move in a new direction. We are ripe for economic growth and energy independence if we responsibly tap the resources that God created right underfoot on American soil. … In Alaska … our 3,000-mile natural gas pipeline will transport hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of our clean natural gas to hungry markets across America. We can safely drill for U.S. oil offshore and in a tiny, 2,000-acre corner of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge if ever given the go-ahead by Washington bureaucrats.

Of course, Alaska is not the sole source of American energy. Many states have abundant coal, whose technology is continuously making it into a cleaner energy source. Westerners literally sit on mountains of oil and gas, and every state can consider the possibility of nuclear energy.

And then I got it!

It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t draw a path to her new direction, that she doesn’t explain how we can safely drill offshore as our weather becomes more extreme, that she offers no recipe for responsibly devouring all the coal and gas and oil God planted right under our ripe feet, that she fails to address the realities of permitting and developing fifty prospective nuclear power plants; none of that matters, because what she’s actually trying to do here is comedy!

Yep, it is absolutely clear that Sarah confused The Washington Post with The Capitol Steps, and sent off her satire to the wrong recipient.

Hmm, was that mean? I don’t think so. Being a voracious reader, I've read a variety of things about Sarah, and that helps shape my opinions and my views of her. And, like Sarah, I’m OK with that.

Love, K-B

* “Cap-and-trade” policies establish pollutant caps (limits) and allow a polluting business that reduces its emission of a pollutant below the cap to sell (trade) the difference (credit) to another company, which then factors the credit into its effort to achieve the cap.

©2009 Kit-Bacon Gressitt