Gov. Palin

And Lots of Other Stuff



By Doug Thompson


I don’t comment on elections that are more than three years away. The resignation of Alaska governor Sarah Palin is one of today’s subjects. Her presidential prospects in 2012, however, are not.

I’m a cynic. My first thought when I heard of the resignation was: “I wonder what’s going to fall apart in Alaskan state government in the next year?” I’m an equal opportunity basher who would wonder the same thing if a Democratic governor and presidential prospect resigned for no apparent reason. I can’t help but think that things are getting rocky in a Western state where the government is almost totally dependent on revenue from oil.

I’m writing this column on Monday. I wouldn’t be surprised if more light were shed on the resignation this week. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it doesn’t come out until next year, either. OK. Enough hedging for one day.

Closer to home, I don’t think people are nearly as interested in Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s re-election prospects as the pundits are. That’s a race that’s almost close enough for me to comment on but not quite there yet. I’ll call back on that one when more people are interested.

Economic news is better than it has been. It’s still not good, and it’s likely to remain that way for a while if we depend on the government to pull us out. While there’s still no huge political backlash to President Obama’s economic stimulus, it’s pretty clear he’s gone about as far as the public’s willing to go. Judging from poll numbers, most Americans prefer a stagnant economy to one that’s pulled forward by ever-increasing debt. Of course, most Americans are still employed.

Americans have suddenly turned frugal. Massive government borrowing took the place of massive private purchases through credit at the height of the crisis, but it appears both binges are over. There’s been a 5-percentage-point increase in the number of Americans who think the economy is getting worse since May 19, according to The same site shows a much smaller but steady increase in the number of people who think the nation’s on the wrong track and a growing number of people who don’t like the administration’s handling of the economy.

“Never let a crisis go to waste” is a liberal creed. Well, unless something serious happens on health care, the political wind is dying for the Change with a capital “C” that many were hoping for. I have to admit, though, that something serious on health care would be a very big change indeed.

On the world stage, I’m stunned at how quickly Iran dropped out of the headlines. Looks like the crackdown worked. The leadership’s scapegoating of their problems on Western “meddling” was truly pathetic. That junk might still work on some in Iran who remember real Western skullduggery in the 1950s, but most Iranians lived in a clerical police state most of their lives. If there was a grain of truth in the idea that Iran is still so vulnerable to Western meddling, that’s a condemnation of the Iranian government’s ineffectiveness over the course of decades.

In Iraq, the big news is that the government there still can’t close an oil deal. The stagnant world economy and its manageable demand for oil allowed major oil companies to reject that government’s none-to-generous offer for oil contracts. The pressure to get more revenue into the government to pay for the troops to keep that country from going to hell in a handbasket will force the Iraqis to pay more than they’d like. Another factor here is that Iraq must have the jobs. You can’t run a stable country when most of your young men have no work. Iraq needs jobs in the oil fields and desperately needs the public works jobs that oil revenue would pay for. Without restoring the roads, electricity and water there will be no private sector to grow.

What irony: President Bush was blamed for going to war with Iraq because of oil. Yet Iraq never had to deal with those oil companies until faced with a U.S. pullout.

The world’s a funny place.

Categories: Features