The Thrilla from Wasilla: An Alaskan recounts the reign of Gov. Sarah Palin

David Noon, a professor and Sarah Palin watcher in Alaska for the last six years, has this sharp but even-handed assessment of the Republican vice presidential nominee.

Writing at the Minnesota Independent, Noon says:

In most ways, Palin has been a vast improvement over her predecessor, Frank Murkowski, a world-renowned dope who managed to aggravate every possible constituency while presiding over a vast ocean of corruption during his single term in office. She approved a bill that squeezed oil producers for more revenue, and she called out fellow Republicans, including the party’s own state chairman, for their pliable ethics.

But:

Palin’s vaunted record as a budget-trimming “maverick” and a principled opponent of federal pork is also overstated. …. It’s true that she eliminated funding for a zamboni blade-sharpener — a budget item that was to state political snark what the “Bridge to Nowhere” was for the rest of the country — but to describe Palin as “anti-pork” requires that we overlook the basic point that for most people, “pork” is merely synonymous with “projects I don’t like.”

And:

She’s not a policy wonk, and she’s incapable of holding a press conference without a coral reef of staffers to feed her answers. Though amiable and charming in debates, she is staggeringly uninformed on most issues of national significance, and voters would do well to wonder how the erstwhile Mayor of Wasilla would manage the American imperium when President McCain strokes out over a third-tier international crisis.

David Noon is a professor of history at the University of Alaska in Juneau, the author of the great, sort-of-on-hiatus Axis of Evel Knievel blog, and a contributor to Lawyers, Guns and Money.

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