Here’s how the piece starts out.
In 1998, voters in a focus group were asked to close their eyes and imagine what a governor should look like. “They automatically pictured a man,” says Barbara Lee, whose foundation promoting women’s political advancement sponsored the survey. “The kind you see in those portraits hanging in statehouse hallways.” They most certainly didn’t visualize Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a former beauty-pageant winner, avid hunter, snowmobiler and mother of four who was elected to her state’s highest office last November.
Sounds like they are liking her here. Here’s some more.
In Alaska, Palin is challenging the dominant, sometimes corrupting, role of oil companies in the state’s political culture. “The public has put a lot of faith in us,” says Palin during a meeting with lawmakers in her downtown Anchorage office, where—as if to drive the point home—the giant letters on the side of the ConocoPhillips skyscraper fill an entire wall of windows. “They’re saying, ‘Here’s your shot, clean it up’.” For Palin, that has meant tackling the cozy relationship between the state’s political elite and the energy industry that provides 85 percent of Alaska’s tax revenues—and distancing herself from fellow Republicans, including the state’s senior U.S. senator, Ted Stevens, whose home was recently searched by FBI agents looking for evidence in an ongoing corruption investigation. (Stevens has denied any wrongdoing.) But even as she tackles Big Oil’s power, Palin has transformed her own family’s connections to the industry into a political advantage. Her husband, Todd, is a longtime employee of BP, but, as Palin points out, the “First Dude” is a blue-collar “sloper,” a fieldworker on the North Slope, a cherished occupation in the state. “He’s not in London making the decisions whether to build a gas line.”
In an interview with NEWSWEEK, Palin said it’s time for Alaska to “grow up” and end its reliance on pork-barrel spending. Shortly after taking office, Palin canceled funding for the “Bridge to Nowhere,” a $330 million project that Stevens helped champion in Congress. The bridge, which would have linked the town of Ketchikan to an island airport, had come to symbolize Alaska’s dependence on federal handouts. Rather than relying on such largesse, says Palin, she wants to prove Alaska can pay its own way, developing its huge energy wealth in ways that are “politically and environmentally clean.”
They are still being positive about her. And the democrats even had positive things to say about her in Alaska.
Although she has been in office less than a year, Palin, too, earns high marks from lawmakers on the other side of the aisle. During a debate earlier this year over a natural-gas bill, State Senate Minority Leader Beth Kerttula was astounded when she and another Democrat went to see the new governor to lay out their objections. “Not only did we get right in to see her,” says Kerttula, “but she asked us back twice—we saw her three times in 10 hours, until we came up with a solution.” Next week in Juneau, Alaska lawmakers will meet to overhaul the state’s system for taxing oil companies—a task Palin says was tainted last year by an oil-industry lobbyist who pleaded guilty to bribing lawmakers. Kerttula doesn’t expect to agree with the freshman governor on every step of the complex undertaking. But the minority leader looks forward to exploiting one backroom advantage she’s long waited for. “I finally get to go to the restroom and talk business with the governor,” she says. “The guys have been doing this for centuries.” And who says that’s not progress?
Now how are they covering her? Here’s a little list of the stories they have about her now: The Man Who’s Prepping Palin (she needs a man to tell her what’s what on foreign policy), Hurricane Sarah (miming a left-wing talking point to attack her), a link to lefty Crooks and Liars which appears as a Newsweek story, another blog appearing as a story about how she’s as boring (sorry, ordinary) as any other woman in the country, another blog about how the pick of Mrs. Palin was to please the theocratic wing of the republican party, and yet another blog appearing as a story about how Mrs. Palin is just this handled fake now.
What accounts for this change? Well, there is this discomforting fact that most of these stories are just lefty blogs appearing as Newsweek stories but there’s something else. She’s a conservative woman who might become president some day. This would be a fatal blow to their lefty sensibilities. They don’t want women to achieve great things, they want liberal women to achieve great things. Mrs. Palin is achieving great things and will continue to do great things even if some liberals can’t stand it. In fact, the doubters probably give her the drive to achieve more.