Sarah Palin, once Alaska's erratic, dysfunctional "demi-gov" and Sen. John McCain's mavericky vice presidential pick, should run again for governor of Alaska. No, really. I'm not kidding.
I had almost forgotten about her, but it all flooded back to me in the middle of the night after reading she is hauling The New York Times into federal court, claiming defamation.
It was a sit-up-in-bed moment. The Palin craziness. The half-baked this; the flip-flopped that; the unmitigated, in-your-face chutzpah. Government out of control; its uninformed, disinterested leader clueless. The hunting episode. Troopergate. The quirky speeches. The email fiasco. The viciousness.
Still, she should run. Admittedly, the last time Palin had the keys to the Governor's Mansion — the few times she actually was there — things did not always go swimmingly. But face it, Alaska is slipping into the doldrums.
Boring is the new watchword. The Legislature is stuck in neutral. The governor is lost in his gas line rabbit hole. The rest of us are stuck with an economy fraying at the edges because of anemic oil prices. Alaska needs something, anything, some kind of spark.
Palin could give us that, and more — and she is back on the national stage, drawing headlines like nectar draws bees.
She accuses The Times of saying something about her it "knew to be false" in an editorial published online June 14. That was the same day a gunman opened fire at a Virginia baseball field where GOP congressmen were practicing for a charity game.
Five were wounded, including Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, who was critically injured.
The Times, always anxious to stick it to Palin, or any other Republican, took the opportunity to drape the January 2011 shooting of Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords around Palin's neck.
Its editorial linked political incitement to the Arizona mass shooting that left Giffords severely wounded. It said Palin's political action committee "circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized crosshairs."
That the newspaper screwed up is undeniable. It corrected quickly, saying there is "no established link between political statements" and Giffords' shooting; that on the Palin PAC's map, "electoral districts, not individual Democratic lawmakers, were depicted beneath the stylized crosshairs."
The lawsuit says that did not go far enough to make amends for "The Times's false assertion that Mrs. Palin incited murder."
What will happen is anybody's guess. It will be tough row to hoe for Palin, but not impossible.
Who does a rational person cheer for in this particular dust-up? In the past, I have said mean things about Palin — quitter, lightweight, paranoid — all justified. I have been labeled a "hater." I have a T-shirt and everything.
The Times? Its ink-stained thumb is squarely, unrepentantly on the scale in its political reporting. One need only review its snarky, one-sided coverage of the last presidential election, its caffè latte derision of anything not liberal, from guns to religion, to get its full, arrogant measure.
No matter what you think of The Times, there are a lot of things we must get past to embrace Palin again. I get that.
She is an opportunistic populist, not a conservative. As governor, she unnecessarily handed out a trainload of $1,200 "energy rebates" to curry favor.
Then, there was her endorsement of the phony "fusion ticket" of Republican-cum-independent-cum-undeclared Bill Walker and Democrat Byron Mallott, a marriage likely consummated in some union backroom.
There was her Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share oil tax that choked industry investment in the state even as other states' oil patches flourished. There is no need to even mention the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act debacle. The list seemingly is endless.
Yes, yes, but all of that is in the very dim, distant past. Think of today. If we can forgive and forget — ah, the possibilities.
The Republican gubernatorial field for next year, after all, appears huge and amorphous. Mark Begich is the likely Democrat in that race.
The political fireworks forecast is dismal, with the chance of a good smackdown remote. Palin instantly would change the dynamics and there is no doubt she has the stuff — right or otherwise.
"Never before have our challenges been so big, and our leaders so small," she told a rabid, adoring crowd years ago at a Conservative Political Action Conference meeting.
Goosebumps. What a line to set an Alaska campaign sizzling.
In this time of fiscal malaise and political discontent, a time when Alaska seems somehow lost, we need politics to become a blood sport again and if anybody can do that, it is Palin.
Think of the national headlines; the attention; the fawning media. More important, think how easy my job would be.
And I'm not kidding.
Paul Jenkins is editor of the AnchorageDailyPlanet.com, a division of Porcaro Communications.
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