Palin power

Stephen Ontko

After months of lukewarm conservative enthusiasm for a McCain presidency, Gov. Sarah Palin began a moment of excitement for the GOP as Sen. John McCain made her his running mate. With thunderous cheers and signs reading “Palin Power” at the Republican National Convention, the Republicans may be well on the way to establishing a newcomer candidate who has already displayed reform in government and intelligence in tackling America’s problems.

During the first stages of her political career, Palin opposed tax increases as a member of the Wasilla, Alaska City Council the Wall Street Journal reported on Aug. 30. When Palin moved on to become mayor of Wasilla she removed the bureaucratic strongholds established by previous Wasilla leadership.

In 2003 Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski selected Palin for Alaska’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, where she distinguished herself as a reformer. Palin was a major force in investigating Randy Ruedrich, her colleague on the commission, who misused his position on the commission to channel funding from the oil industry to the Republican Party, in his role as Alaska Republican Party chairman, the New York Times reported on Aug. 30.

On Aug. 26 the Washington Times mentioned Palin’s efforts, along with state Rep. Eric Croft, a Democrat, to accuse Murkowski’s Attorney General Gregg Renkes of ethics grievances, in which state contracts were again used for political gain, only now involving an international coal trade deal. Palin and Croft went ahead with their efforts and were successful in pressuring Renkes to leave office despite objections from Murkowski.

Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal also details Palin fighting Alaskan corruption. She successfully defeated Murkowski for the governorship after being a commissioner, and would open up Alaska’s oil fields to contract bids that would entice five companies to submit bids, better serving the people and state of Alaska. Murkowski, on the other hand, made no effort to use competitive bargains with three companies he would have had investing in Alaska’s oil resources.

The WSJ also reported on Aug. 30 Gov. Palin’s support for suggesting Republican Rep. Don Young resign due to his involvement in the infamous earmark project known as “the bridge to nowhere.”

Displaying keen knowledge on drilling in an interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, Palin stressed how vital Alaska is to the United States, as 20 percent of U.S. domestic supply of energy is produced from Prudhoe Bay while only 2,000 acres of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are open for oil exploration out of the 20 million acres it encompasses. Palin also stated Alaska has trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, and a U.S. Geological Survey states that the ANWR portion up for drilling has approximately 10.4 billion barrels of oil.

Yet, Palin notes Sen. Joe Biden voted against the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline 30 years ago. AP quoted Obama attacking McCain, saying, “Instead of offering any real plan to lower gas prices, Sen. McCain touts his support for George Bush’s plan for offshore oil drilling.” Apparently Obama would have the United States depend on hostile regimes just because President Bush approves drilling, and Biden’s experience isn’t worth much if his drilling views don’t stand up to Palin’s. RAND Corporation reports at least 500 billion barrels of oil shale are in the Green River Basin, and with the proper extraction methods, America could realistically become energy independent. So much for that, with Democrats against drilling.

Although it is usually the running mate who takes a secondary role in a presidential race, Palin has reached unprecedented prominence in the Republican ticket even though she unfortunately appears to have favored earmark spending for Alaska.

McCain, as Republican presidential nominee, is the leader of the Republican Party, but Republican excitement for the ticket comes more from Palin, for this nation will benefit from her merciless attacks against corruption, even if it’s within her own party.

Stephen Ontko is a senior economics major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].