Skip to main Content

Who is Parnell's conscience, anyway?

  • Author: Scott Woodham
  • Updated: June 30, 2016
  • Published June 6, 2010
TO: Gov. Parnell's Conscience (whoever you are)
SUBJECT: Just what kind of "little guy" are you?

0604-parnell-conscience1Dear Sean Parnell's Conscience,

Boy, you sure must be proud of yourself this week. After years, apparently, of failing to convince Sean Parnell that the government shouldn't pay for the medical care of low-income children and pregnant women, he finally listened to you. It must be party-time down at Conscience Central because you finally found the right angle: Abortion.

In the governor's press conference (.mp3) announcing his budget vetoes, he said that because of your urging, he nixed funds to expand that statewide health care program to more than 1,300 children and 200 pregnant women at the upper end of the poverty scale. We're confused about why it took you so long to get through to him, but it's good you two are finally talking.

Usually voters learn about their leaders' consciences through the scripted rigors of an election campaign, but Alaska didn't really get that chance with your client (or host-body, or whatever you call him). So, better late than never, we guess. We're just glad Alaskans are getting a chance to learn what you're all about.

It might surprise you as much as the governor's veto of Denali KidCare's expansion surprised the Legislature, but we're not writing because we're concerned about the expansion getting slashed, or even the abortion question itself.

That'll all work itself out. The Legislature can always override his impending veto of SB 13 if it wants, and maybe the courts will get involved along the line. Meanwhile, Denali KidCare will keep on doing what it can for the families it currently serves, and hopefully those women and children who won't get coverage now will get by without bringing down Alaska's economic potential too much.

We're not writing to bust your chops about hurting the governor's chances in any elections he may be facing, either. If he ends up winning the Republican nomination to run for governor, it's not like pregnant women making twice the poverty level can hurt him in the general election. They don't have much clout, and uninsured, low-income children probably have even less. What're they going to do, buy ads? Hold a vigil?

We're letting other people worry about all that. But we're extremely concerned about you, your uncanny influence on our governor, and your impeccable timing.

The Concerned are used to hearing an Alaska governor say he listens to advice from sources other Alaskans can't see or hear. Departed former Governor Walter J. Hickel used to famously maintain that he always got good advice from "the little guy" inside himself if only he listened. That little guy always seemed like a purer, highly concentrated version of Wally -- like a can of frozen orange juice, in a way. So we knew what to expect and never got too worried. But you seem different. Frankly, you kind of scare us.

Who are you, anyway?

The governor said when he announced his veto for those women and children that he "learned new information" that caused him to change his mind about the expansion. Later on he said, "I can no longer support an expansion of Denali KidCare because unknown to me until recently, this program also funds abortions."

He didn't say who gave him that new information. Because not even the agency in charge of the program can say yet how many abortions it has paid for, we're pretty sure the source is imaginary. And you're the only imaginary person involved here. We're really concerned you're just trying to get your way after years of Gov. Parnell ignoring you on this issue (and maybe others for all we know).

We're also concerned about your timing. Walter Hickel's little man seemed to speak up all the time -- whenever a big idea occurred to him, no matter how good or bad the idea seemed -- but you seem to stay really quiet until the time is right. Like now. Apparently you waited until the Legislature was out of session before telling the governor he should think twice about expanding Denali KidCare. He had supported the program for years, and all of a sudden ... well, you know ... You got what you wanted.

We're also really worried you've been giving him faith-based natural gas line advice, too, but we'll leave that for another time. Just try to remember you're not his only responsibility.

The Concerned

P.S. If you happen to run into Harry Truman's conscience, be sure to rub your easy victory in. What a cinch!

For more newsletters click here

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.