Thursday, February 19, 2009

No News Is Good News

Media-monger Sarah Palin, she of VP fame & infamy, may yet decide that being in the news isn't all that. Especially when the news, as of late, is all bad.

For example, the latest news from the Alaska shores is that Palin didn't properly pay her taxes. The Washington Post reports, Palin Now Owes Taxes on Reimbursement Payments for Nights at Home, State Rules:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) owes income taxes on nearly $17,000 paid to her as travel reimbursements when she spent nights in her Wasilla residence, according to a state legal opinion that the payments were not legitimate business expenses, a state official said yesterday.

* * * *
Palin's expenses were reported by The Washington Post last year after the Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), named Palin as his running mate. The Post reviewed records from late 2006 through early August 2008, and the story prompted a review by state officials. The governor continued to seek the payments through the end of the year, according to the Anchorage Daily News, which first reported this week that she owed taxes on the payments.
This makes me wonder if, a la Daschle, this means that Sarah Palin can't run for office ever again or accept a political appointment, since non-payment of taxes -- especially for Republicans, seems to be killer offense.

The news on the budget front for Alaska is also not good for high-flying (and spending) Sarah. Even worse, it may mean that she has to focus on the home state, as noted by the AP, Sarah Palin In Trouble As Oil Prices Fall:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's first two years in office have been called a time of milk and honey, when the resource-rich state was flush with wealth from record oil prices.

The second half of her term isn't looking so rosy as Palin faces her first major financial challenge as governor.

The rapid decline of oil prices has left the state in a looming budget crisis and a late-entrant in the national recession. And that could have political repercussions for the former Republican vice presidential hopeful, who has signaled an interest in a 2012 presidential run but must stay visible in the Lower 48 to be successful.

'Given these bad times, she's going to have a much more difficult time traveling outside Alaska,' said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. 'When times are good, people will let their governor roam. In bad times, citizens expect their governor to stay home and work on solving the problems.'
Her job as Gov seems to be giving her headaches even beyond the budget. As Steve Benen of Political Animal reports, in PALIN'S PROBLEMS:
Oddly enough, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was not only in over her head on the national stage, she's also struggling in Alaska.

A couple of weeks before the Alaska legislature began this year's session, a bipartisan group of state senators on a retreat a few hours from here invited Gov. Sarah Palin to join them. Accompanied by a retinue of advisers, she took a seat at one end of a conference table and listened passively as Gary Stevens, the president of the Alaska Senate, a former college history professor and a low-key Republican with a reputation for congeniality, expressed delight at her presence.

Would the governor, a smiling Stevens asked, like to share some of her plans and proposals for the coming legislative session?

Palin looked around the room and paused, according to several senators present. "I feel like you guys are always trying to put me on the spot," she said finally, as the room became silent.

Gone was the self-assurance that Alaska had come to know in its young Republican governor, well before her life and career were transformed by Sen. John McCain's selection of her as his vice presidential running mate. "She looked ill at ease, more defensive than we've been accustomed to seeing her," said one legislator who was there and spoke on the condition of anonymity because he said he might need to work with Palin.

The governor, apparently, isn't having any fun anymore.

It's hard to say with any certainty what Palin's plans are for the future, but she seems anxious to maintain a national profile -- she created a leadership PAC, she's on Fox News, she made an Alfalfa dinner appearance, she's weighing in on Republican primary contests far outside Alaska, etc. Jason Zengerle suggests Palin, if she's serious about seeking national office, should "give up her position as partisan firebrand, focus her attentions on being Alaska's governor, remake herself as more of a pragmatic executive (which, prior to the '08 campaign, is what many thought she was), and then return to national politics."

Then, of course, was the news that her daughter Bristol, who called telling her mother about her pregnancy "harder than labor," also spoke out against abstenence-only policies, Bristol Palin Speaks Out:

Bristol Palin, the 18-year-old daughter of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, told Fox News in her first interiew since giving birth that she would like to be an advocate against teen pregnancy.

'Everyone should wait 10 years,' Palin said. 'I hope people learn from my story.'

* * * *

Bristol Palin described to Fox's Greta Van Susteren the moment when she, her boyfriend, Levi Johnston, and another friend told her parents that she was pregnant. She described that moment as "harder than labor."

But this was not the only surprise Bristol Palin said she had for her mother, Alaska's youngest governor. She told Van Susteren she had only told her mother she was doing this national television interview - in which Van Susteren and crew flew to Alaska - one day prior to the taping.

And, at the same time she's out there shopping her book, an unauthorized biography about her is being published this week by a People editor. The book, Trailblazer: An Intimate Biography of Sarah Palin, is not a flattering portrayal, as noted by The Politco, Palin disputes 'fantasies' in new book:
The book spends little time on Palin’s experience as the GOP vice presidential nominee, delving mostly into Palin’s childhood, family and interaction with friends. Of the book’s 228 pages, Benet’s account of the campaign makes up roughly 30 pages.

Much of the rest of his account of Palin’s political rise portrays her as an ambitious and aggressive politician, determined to gain a prominent job and plagued by a contentious relationship with the press.

Shortly after being elected mayor of Wasilla, Palin is quoted by friends as saying, “I want to be president.”

Soon after becoming mayor, her interactions with the media grew heated. “My goodness, I’ve been here 11 days. Give me a break, please,” she said at a press conference.

“I don’t remember other mayors getting grilled like this,” she is quoted as saying later. The book also states that Todd Palin got into a feud with a local editorial cartoonist over the drawings of his wife.

Benet asserts that Palin changed her tune after becoming governor and sought ways to use the press to polish her national profile. He writes that Alaska spent $31,000 in state funds on media consulting for the governor in attempts to book her for major television and newspaper interviews."
I'm not sure that this is the type of media attention that we had in mind when I made my wager with one of the LLWL gang. Our bet was whether Palin would continue to remain a force in politics (or become a media personality & land a show on Fox News). Of course, this just means we have something fun to argue about until the Ides of March (& then we'll spend some time arguing about how we decide who won the bet).


regina said...

Excellent post! I particularly like this bit:

"This makes me wonder if, a la Daschle, this means that Sarah Palin can't run for office ever again or accept a political appointment, since non-payment of taxes -- especially for Republicans, seems to be killer offense."

Have you tried reading my humble blog?


Susan said...

Words to live by from Professor Ting's tax class, too many years ago: "If I [hire you and] pay you in tuna fish, that's income."