Finally former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has found a subject on which she can truly comment as an expert, the profits to be made in politics in America today.
This is how she (or her ghost writer) sums up things in The Wall Street Journal:
How do politicians who arrive in Washington, D.C. as men and women of modest means leave as millionaires? How do they miraculously accumulate wealth at a rate faster than the rest of us? How do politicians' stock portfolios outperform even the best hedge-fund managers'?
Politicians have stock portfolios that outperform those of the best hedge-fund managers? What happened to that "crony capitalism" stuff Palin was worrying about? Isn't the problem with men and women of modest means getting rich in D.C. related to the fact that politicians play the system and not the stock market?
Is the stock market how Palin made her millions? Nope, she played the system.
She's right in her underlying criticism that the "service'' has gone out of "public service'' in the good, old U.S. But she's way too narrow in limiting the problem to D.C.
How do politicians who arrive in Juneau, Alaska, as women of modest means leave as millionaires?
Well, let's see: They use their beauty-pageant-trained charms on some old, white-guy conservatives who convince an only-slight-short-of-wholly-whacked-out U.S. senator from Arizona to pick her as his vice-presidential running mate in a failed bid for the presidency. And then she goes on the campaign trail to endear herself to a certain segment of America that really hates the black guy who's been "pallin' around with terrorists.'' All of which builds her a political base to pay to watch her nonsensical mumblings on Fox News and buy a who-cares book.
So she quits as Alaska governor and makes millions doing exactly what?
"How do they (those damn politicians) miraculously accumulate wealth at a rate faster than the rest of us?'' Palin asks.
How do you, Sarah Palin, miraculously accumulate wealth at a rate faster than the rest of us?
The answer to that question is obvious. There's money to be made in politics in America.
Palin could have stayed as Alaska's governor and soldiered on as a faithful "public servant.'' She didn't. She went for the cash. She went all capitalist. And now she's trying to make political hay, and of course more money, by attacking others like herself.
She writes that politicians:
(use) power to enrich and shield themselves. The money-making opportunities for politicians are myriad....accepting sweetheart gifts of IPO stock from companies seeking to influence legislation, practicing insider trading with nonpublic government information, earmarking projects that benefit personal real estate holdings, and even subtly extorting campaign donations through the threat of legislation unfavorable to an industry. The list goes on and on, and it's sickening.
It is, indeed, sickening. But she left some things off the list, like the political action committees politicians or would-be politicians can use to finance a groovy summer vacation. Or maybe she's forgotten the SarahPac One Nation bus tour.
"Astonishingly, none of this is technically illegal," she writes.
No shit, Susie. Look in the mirror. Then save us the high and mighty bullshit.
I've been fighting this type of corruption and cronyism my entire political career. For years Alaskans suspected that our lawmakers and state administrators were in the pockets of the big oil companies to the detriment of ordinary Alaskans. We knew we were being taken for a ride, but it took FBI wiretaps to finally capture lawmakers in the act of selling their votes. In the wake of politicos being carted off to prison, my administration enacted reforms based on transparency and accountability to prevent this from happening again.
These claims are largely and simply a lie.
Palin didn't spend her political career fighting corruption. And the Palin administration was all about cronyism. The big oil companies in Alaska did, and to some extent still do, carry undue influence with Alaska politicians. But it's nothing compared to the influence of commercial fishing interests in the fishing industry off the coast of the 49th state. The fishing interests have the kind of influence the oil companies can only dream about.
Did Palin ever try to do anything to fix this? Anything?
Well, of course, not. Her hubby is in the fishing business. Protecting his interests was more important than protecting the public's interest.
It's cronyism at the fundamental level.
Craig Medred's views are his own. Contact him at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com.