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Special Commentary: Palin-haters?

Special Commentary by Chris Graham

“Sarah Palin represents everything they hate,” conservative radio host Laura Ingraham told an audience at the Republican National Convention this week. Which piqued my interest, because I’m guessing that I’m one of those they that she was referring to – a Democrat, a member of the news media. Come to think of it, of course I’m one of the they. So I’m supposed to hate Sarah Palin? Really?

“Life is the first. Big families. Hunting. Patriotism. Gun ownership. Beating back fat, bloated bureaucracy. Holding government accountable. Fighting liberal corruption. Sarah Palin stands for all of these principles that if taken away from the left, it’s over for them. It’s over,” Ingraham said, laying out the reasons that I’m supposed to hate Sarah Palin.

Let me just say here at the outset that I’ve given this one a lot of thought, and I can’t say that there’s anything that I could hate about Sarah Palin – and no, I’m not being a pantywaist liberal saying that. The Dem in me absolutely loves her, because as much as Palin has helped John McCain rally conservatives around his campaign, her presence on the ticket is also going to make it hard for McCain to steal away the numbers of Hillary Clinton voters and uncommitted swing voters that he’s going to need to be able to win on Nov. 4.

Recent Gallup polling data suggests that Barack Obama has gained eight points on McCain among independent white women voters since the Palin selection – after trailing McCain by a 42 percent-to-41 percent margin in polling before the selection, Obama now leads among that subgroup by a 46 percent-to-39 percent margin, according to numbers released this morning. Obama also has gained among Democratic white women voters since the selection – 74 percent of whom were indicating support for Obama before the Palin pick, and 82 percent are supporting Obama now.

The Gallup numbers do show that the Palin choice has shored up suppport for McCain among GOP women – 85 percent of Republican white women voters were supporting McCain before the Palin news, and 90 percent are now, according to the data, with support among white male GOP voters basically unchanged, at 89 percent before the Palin announcement and 90 percent after. So there has been some benefit, to be sure.

But enough about numbers. Ingraham made some pretty serious charges about how much people like me supposedly hate everything Sarah Palin stands for. “Life is the first. Big families.” Ingraham is just throwing a bone here to social conservatives who want to see abortion rights done away with. Which has nothing to do with people like me. Me, I look at how Republicans had the White House and Congress for six years at the same time that they had a conservative majority on the Supreme Court and still did nothing of substance on abortion, and I say, Eh, they’re not really serious about actually doing anything on abortion, it’s just a smokescreen.

I mean, if you look at it, Sarah Palin really represents everything social conservatives hate about the party that claims to have their interests at heart. Because they use their votes to get their people elected, and then the electeds don’t do anything to show their respects to the people who got them there.

Chew on that one for a while.

“Hunting.” I’m not a hunter myself, but I do enjoy the outdoors, even if I don’t shoot moose and elk and caribou and the rest. I’m pretty sure Ingraham wasn’t talking about the environment, but I think this is a good place to bring up Palin’s interesting approach to environmental issues. Like her attempt to reverse a federal-government decision to list polar bears as a threatened species and that scientists’ predictions on global warming were unreliable. It’s certainly her right to think that way, but it’s not her right to say as she did earlier this year that she opposes listing the bears as endangered species based on “a comprehensive review by state wildlife officials of scientific information from a broad range of climate, ice and polar bear experts” when Alaskan state wildlife officials actually agree with the studies cited by the feds to justify putting the bears on the list.

I’m all for Palin being able to go out and hunt all she wants. I just wish she’d come back with even the majority of her own party that recognizes the issues that we’re facing with global warming.

“Patriotism.” Seriously, Laura? You think people like me are unpatriotic? And you base that on … what, exactly? The fact that the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I hear the national anthem at high-school football games on Friday nights? That I’ve given my life to journalism and community activism at the expense of my own bank-accountism because I think it’s that important to try to make my community and my state and my country a better place to live? No, that would make me proud of others who do the same with their lives, even if they don’t agree with me on how we’re supposed to get there, or even where there is, not to mention proud of living in a country where people can have these kinds of substantive disagreements without resorting to violence to resolve them.

I’d be willing to bet that Sarah and I see eye to eye on that one.

“Gun ownership.” Should drug dealers in big cities have AK-47s to use to settle disputes? No. Should law-abiding citizens have their right to own guns for sport or protection or whatever other reason they want to have them have their rights taken away so that drug dealers in big cities can’t have AK-47s to settle their disputes? No. End of story.

“Beating back fat, bloated bureaucracy.” I’m all for it, which actually distinguishes me from Sarah Palin, who apparently is only against it when the TV cameras are rolling. Palin said last week that she had told Congress “thanks, but no thanks” on the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, the Gravina Island bridge that members of Alaska’s congressional delegation had secured funds to build. Turns out she was for it before she was against it, and she even campaigned in 2006 on a build-the-bridge platform, telling residents of the town that would benefit from the bridge that she felt their pain when politicians referred to their hometown as “nowhere.” Ketchikan is still feeling that pain as Palin initiated efforts to use the money that was supposed to go toward the bridge project on other projects – which is to say, she didn’t even return the “thanks, but no thanks” money to the federal government.

But that’s only her most recent dalliance with bigger-is-better government. Palin used taxpayer dollars as mayor of Wasilla to employ a lobbying firm with close ties to indicted Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens to secure nearly $27 million in federal earmarks for the town of 6,700. To put that in perspective, I’ve heard from conservatives in Waynesboro (population 21,500) upset over Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte securing an earmark for the controversial Wayne Theatre project in the amount of $300,000, and that’s the only earmark that I can recall the city receiving in my dozen years of covering local politics.

And here I thought it was Democrats who were supposed to be the tax-and-spenders.

“Holding government accountable. Fighting liberal corruption.” This is the straw that stirs the Palin drink. We all know by now about the ongoing investigation into the firing of public safety commissioner Walt Monegan by Palin that Alaska legislators think was linked to Monegan’s decision not to fire a state trooper who is currently caught up in a bitter divorce and custody dispute with Palin’s sister. Palin has denied any wrongdoing, but an investigation by the state attorney general initiated at her request turned up as the smoking gun evidence of improper contacts with Monegan made by Palin aides and Palin’s husband, Todd, on the matter. It’s to the point where state legislators began openly talking about impeachment well before Palin’s name was talked about as being anywhere on McCain’s short or even long lists.

The points that Ingraham tries to make about “liberal corruption” and how the world of people like me is “over” if Palin is elected are so over the top as to not deserve a response. Except to say that all you have to do is look at Alaska and see that there aren’t any liberals in charge of anything up there, one, and two, eh, somehow people like me have figured out how to carry on through the eight years of hell that has been Bush-Cheney.

The way I look at it, the sun comes up either way on Nov. 5. And if it shines on the dawn of a McCain-Palin era in U.S. politics, well, my life goes on pretty much as it has been since the dawn of Bush-Cheney. And no, I won’t be happy with a neverending war in Iraq and continued high gas prices and a weakened dollar and massive foreign trade deficits and federal-budget deficits and burgeoning national debt and the rest.

But as long as Palin starts standing by her principles, we won’t have anything to worry about, right?

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