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Palin Goes Down the "Tubes" with Sen. Stevens

One of the benefits of being a relative unknown in the world of national politics is you can establish your own personal narrative, creating an image for yourself through lies and selective memory that, in time, can become difficult to refute once it’s established as conventional wisdom. Some lies are so big, so massively enormous and all-encompassing that the average person’s brain short-circuits when trying to reconcile the lie with well-known reality. For example, Palin bragged about her record of ethics reform, while she was under investigation for ethics violations (which she was eventually found guilty of). People don’t like to believe anyone could lie that brazenly, so they develop a blind spot where their indignant outrage should be. Palin is counting on that blind spot when she talks about “standing up to the good ol’ boy network in Alaska.” It’s a nice, outsider-y bit of rhetoric that, given how most people couldn’t have named a single Alaskan politician three months ago, sounds plausible enough for a new governor halfway through her first term.

But it’s complete bunk, and now a lot more difficult for people to believe.

When you think “good ol’ boy network,” you think of ossified men in positions of power, using their office to leverage favors both monetary and otherwise, engaging in nepotism and carefully concealed bribery, showering loyal followers with generosity and detractors with vengeful scorn. And when you think “Alaska,” you think of Sen. Ted Stevens, the man who practically founded the state single-handedly. And now, when you think of Ted Stevens, you think “corrupt convicted felon.” [thehill.com]

If you’re not familiar with Stevens’ particular brand of crazy, you’ve been missing out. The second-ranking member on the Senate Appropriations committee, Stevens’ federal pork-gathering abilities were matched only by his petty vindictiveness [www.tnr.com] and penchant for saying really, really crazy stuff [www.boingboing.net]. But it was Stevens’ entrenched position in the “good ol’ boy network” that led to his downfall. You don’t bring billions in federal earmarks to your home state and not have a long line of unsavory characters trying to get a seat on the gravy train. While Stevens considered the lavish gifts and home renovations to be “business as usual” among his corporate friends, a federal grand jury thought “bribery” was a more appropriate word. Next to California’s “Duke” Cunningham, Ted Stevens was the poster boy for the Republican “culture of corruption.”

Now that Stevens has become only the 5th sitting senator in U.S. history to be convicted of a felony, Palin has suddenly rediscovered her commitment to standing up to corruption in her home state [politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com]:

“As Governor of the State of Alaska, I will carefully now monitor the situation and I’ll take any appropriate action as needed. In the meantime, I ask the people of Alaska to join me in respecting the workings of our judicial system and I’m confident that Senator Stevens from this point on will do the right thing for the people of Alaska,” she said.

Emphasis added, for obvious reasons. Far from “taking on” Stevens, Palin was happy to turn a blind eye and let Stevens’ work his magic as long as it kept her home state rolling in federal dough. But once she announced to the world how she “stood up to the good ol’ boy network in Alaska” she had to hope the lie was big enough to keep people from examining her past support for the Alaskan Welfare King [www.rollingstone.com]:

”I have great respect for the senator…. His voice, his experience, his passion needs to be heard across America. So that Alaska can contribute more. So that we can be producers. So that we can help lead the rest of the U.S. I, again, have great respect for him. There’s a big difference between reality and perception regarding our relationship.

Truer words have never been spoken.

– Michael Turner