Palin More Reform-Minded than Obama?

Palin More Reform-Minded than Obama?


In an otherwise by-the-numbers pro-Sarah Palin editorial, The Wall Street Journal makes one very interesting point:

Mr. Obama rose through the Chicago Democratic machine without a peep of push-back. Alaska’s politics are deeply inbred and backed by energy-industry money. Mr. Obama slid past the kind of forces that Mrs. Palin took head on.

Palin became Alaska’s governor not by cozying up to the established powers in her party but by challenging the corruption of those established powers. She beat former Republican Governor Frank Murkowski in a primary mainly by calling-out Murkowski on a corrupt, sweet-heart pipeline deal he supported.

Obama, meanwhile, won his seat in the Illinois Senate by playing a bit of procedural hardball and forcing all his opponents off the ballot for improper signature gathering. You could claim that’s “fighting corruption” but there’s no evidence in Obama’s career to suggest he’s made any subsequent effort to reform signature gathering. His maneuver was tough Chicago politics, plain-and-simple.

But saying Obama has no reformist past is incorrect. As a young state legislator, he took on the role of ethics reform point man and helped pass key reforms including ones aimed at decreasing the influence of lobbyists. His ethics-focus was not exactly popular with his colleagues and not the kind of role you’d expect a young politician to take if he is simply “moving up through the system.” In the U.S. Senate, Obama has also made ethics reform one of the few focuses of his short tenure.

Palin, for her part, is undoubtedly a politician unafraid of challenging the status quo – probably more so than Obama who strikes me as inclined to compromise (on the Farm Bill, on wire-tapping, on offshore drilling) rather than directly challenge established interests. But we know Obama, just by virtue of being from a different party than the current president, will change things in Washington. Palin and, of course, McCain still have to convince us they will deliver Republican leadership substantially different from what we’ve received from George Bush and his administration.

A reformist past is nice. Plans for future reform are even better.

  • Brian

    Sweat-heart deal? Eeew.

    I don’t doubt that Palin’s got reform on her mind – reverse Roe v Wade, outlaw abortion and promote creationism in the classroom. Not the kind of change I’m interested in, thanks.

  • Alan Stewart Carl

    Er, sweet-heart. Change made. This is what happens when you work on labor day.

  • gerryf

    There is no doubt Palin had some battles on her hand when she took her politics statewide.

    Given her own actions since then, though, I am undecided if her decisions were personal or morally motivated.

    The people she has gone after were people she knew and had relationships with; the criticism she endured was from the good old boy (gender intentional) network who weren’t too keen on this woman coming in to play in their sandbox.

    If she has only gone after people who have personally affronted her, that’s not reform–that’s GOP politics as usually.

    What reform has she undertaken that did not fall into that category?

    She was for the bridge to nowhere before she was against it. Her criticism of an indicted congressman consists or wondering aloud if he ought to be more open. Opening ANWR is hardly reform–it’s GOP SOP. When a state board wanted to close an unprofitable dairy farm, she fired everyone on the board and appointed people who would keep it open even though it was costing the state to keep it alive…eventually closing it after drowining in red ink and then she couldn’t sell it (I guess it has since been sold to be used for some other purpose).

    So far, in that category, the only thing she has going for her is raising taxes on the oil companies profits–ironically, a windfall profit tax that McCain has criticized Obama for.

    I still don’t get this pick