Columns 2009

It’s nice to see the governor and legislature playing well with each other…NOT

It’s so good to have our governor and the legislature back at each other’s throats where they belong. For a brief moment there last year, when everyone but a few disgruntled dissidents in the legislature were involved in one group love fest, it felt as though we’d somehow fallen through the looking glass.

But we’re back now. No more love fest. No more cooperation between the governor and the legislature. The gloves are off, let the sniping ensue. And all of us pundits could not be more thrilled because, honestly, there is nothing quite as boring as peace and cooperation at the highest levels of government.

At some point in this session, the legislature seemed to wake up to the fact that the governor doesn’t really stay in Juneau and so they have to settle for meetings with her staff or teleconferences that she may or may not be able to squeeze into her schedule. This annoyed legislators no end since they are forced to actually spend the legislative session in Juneau when they would clearly prefer the governor’s mode of operation, which seems to involve per diem for living at home.

On top of that, the governor seems determined to make choices that annoy our august sitting body only slightly more than their choices annoy her. In fact, it’s like a one on one match. You hand me Beth Kertulla and I’ll hand you with Wayne Anthony Ross. You say no to stimulus money, I’ll say yes to it.

But the part that really starts me thinking we’ve moved into a parallel universe is the part where Rudy Ruedrich and Palin unite forces to call for Senator Mark Begich to resign, as though he was somehow responsible for the prosecution of Ted Stevens and its timing.

Unless I’m mistaken, not only was it a Republican administration that brought the indictment, but it was a Democratic administration that dropped the charges. So pardon me if I wonder in what alternative universe anyone thinks this was politically motivated to remove a Republican senator from Congress? Unless you believe that the Republicans have become so self-destructive and insane that they did it to themselves.

It was also Stevens’ choice to request a quick trial. He took a chance and lost. He did not have to go into the election as a convicted felon.

But what really scares me about the united voice of Ruedrich and Palin is – well, just that – their united voice. Has Palin thrown her hat into the ring with the devil to keep herself viable for her national run in 2012? Or has Ruedrich accepted that Palin trounced him and his buddies in the last election and figures if he wants to stay at all relevant on the state scene, he’d best start working with her and not against her?

Either way, it saddens me to see Palin fall so far that she joins with the man she once viewed as the epitome of corruption and arrogance in her party in order to get a little more support for her future.

So Palin is now in the same position with the legislature that Murkowski was during most of his term – at arms length and throwing barbs as often as possible in an attempt to get the last word.  And Ruedrich, the man whose outing for use of state property for party business started her statewide career, is now her buddy and they speak in one voice.  Even if it’s the same voice she once used to say that Stevens should resign.

It’s easy to keep your positions straight when you base them on principle. But when your positions shift to accommodate the latest prevailing political wind and the friends you think you’ll need to reach higher office, it’s a lot harder to keep things straight and not constantly contradict your previous self.

The saddest thing is that Palin now resembles that which I think we elected her to not be – a calculating politicians whose political future is more important than our needs or her integrity.