The Corner

Northern Exposure

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, here’s Jim Bennett on Sarah Palin:

Far from being a reprise of Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Palin was a clear-eyed politician who, from the day she took office, knew exactly what she had to do and whose toes she would step on to do it.

The surprise is not that she has been in office for such a short time but that she has succeeded in each of her objectives. She has exposed corruption; given the state a bigger share in Alaska’s energy wealth; and negotiated a deal involving big corporate players, the US and Canadian governments, Canadian provincial governments, and native tribes – the result of which was a £13 billion deal to launch the pipeline and increase the amount of domestic energy available to consumers. This deal makes the charge of having “no international experience” particularly absurd.

In short, far from being a small-town mayor concerned with little more than traffic signs, she has been a major player in state politics for a decade, one who formulated an ambitious agenda and deftly implemented it against great odds.

Her sudden elevation to the vice-presidential slot on the Republican ticket shocked no one more than her enemies in Alaska, who have broken out into a cold sweat at the thought of Palin in Washington, guiding the Justice Department’s anti-corruption teams through the labyrinths of Alaska’s old-boy network.

It is no surprise that many of the charges laid against her have come from Alaska, as her enemies become more and more desperate to bring her down. John McCain was familiar with this track record and it is no doubt the principal reason that he chose her.

Focusing on the exotic trappings of Alaskan culture may make Palin seem a quaint and inexplicable choice. But understanding the real background of her steady rise in politics suggests that Barack Obama and Joe Biden are underestimating her badly. In this, they join two former Alaskan governors, a large number of cronies, and a trail of enemies extending back over a decade.

Read the whole thing.

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