Global environmental challenges
Sarah Palin’s new focus
Admit it: we all wondered just what Sarah Palin would turn her time and talents to after she announced her resignation from the Alaska governor’s job, and now she’s given what looks like an answer. In an op-ed column in The Washington Post, Palin took a swipe at Washington insiders and the mainstream media for ignoring the economy, and then tipped her hand.
“Unfortunately, many in the national media would rather focus on the personality-driven political gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges,” she wrote. “So, at risk of disappointing the chattering class, let me make clear what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be: I am deeply concerned about President Obama’s cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.”
In a brief story about this, we noted that Palin’s plans for spurring the U.S. economy include offshore drilling, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and exploring the possibility of nuclear power in every state.
We’re not the only ones who noticed Palin’s opening salvo. Daniel Weiss of the Center for American Progress Action Fund saw her column as “the first stop on Gov. Palin’s comeback tour.” In his opinion, Palin is definitely mulling a presidential run.
“She wants to make sure that she’s still seen as serious and relevant,” Weiss said. “Her policies, though, isolate her in the corner with big oil and big coal and Rush Limbaugh … It would not surprise me if she shows up in Iowa talking about ethanol or New Hampshire talking about nuclear power or in Louisiana talking about oil. That would appeal to primary or caucus-going voters on those states.”
Weiss told me he can’t wait for the Palin campaign, but others weren’t so enthusiastic. Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that will take up U.S. carbon-capping legislation in September, took time out from a hearing to pour cold water on Palin’s contention that tackling the causes of climate change would send the U.S. economy into a tailspin.
“Sarah Palin wrote this naysaying op-ed piece on why we shouldn’t move forward …” Boxer said. “So I would just tell the American people to take a look at history. Every single time we’ve gone forward to go after pollution, the naysayers have been wrong about the predictions, wrong about the gloom and doom and we have in fact led the world.”
Another Democrat, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, criticized Palin’s piece, which for a while was one of the most popular on the Washingtonpost.com site.
“Unfortunately, her promise to roll up her sleeves and tackle serious issues is followed by a column that focuses on everything but the single grave challenge that forms the basis of all of our actions: the crisis of global climate change,” Kerry wrote in remarks that showed up on the Huffington Post. “Yes, she manages to write about the climate change action in Congress without ever mentioning the reason we are doing this in the first place. It’s like complaining about the cost of repairing a roof without factoring in the leaks destroying your home.”
Kerry took specific aim at the impact of climate change in Alaska, where warming permafrost and rising sea levels have prompted some villagers to leave their long-time homes as the earth melts under their feet.
There was no immediate response to Palin’s column from the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute or the Republican National Committee.
But what do you think? Does this effort mean she’s running for president? Will she take a bigger role in the debate over climate change?
Photo credits: REUTERS/Tami Chappell (Palin in Duluth, George, December 1, 2008); REUTERS/NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (Satellite image of Arctic ice, September 10, 2008)