Bob Franken

Palin Steps Into Op-Ed and Stomps Obama

There are at least two possibilities. Either Sarah Palin is a very quick learner or she employs a really good ghostwriter. Even if it’s the latter, she’s demonstrated with an op-ed article in the Washington Post Tuesday that she’s not the total dunce many of us have pictured.

This is the first indication Palin was even aware the Washington Post existed, but her piece is a pretty effective way to show the world she’s a political force that no one should underestimate: “At the risk of disappointing the chattering class,” she writes, “let me make clear what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be.”

As a card-carrying member of the “chattering class,” let me note she’s taking on a hefty subject, the complex “cap and trade” plan that plenty of chatterers have trouble understanding. Even more importantly, she’s deftly pushing the buttons of every conservative, laying out the Republican argument that using “cap and trade” to control greenhouse gases would be “an enormous threat to our economy.”

There’s also the boilerplate call to end our reliance on foreign oil by tapping into domestic sources of coal and oil. For good measure, she makes sure her message reaches the religious right: “We are ripe for economic growth and energy independence if we responsibly tap the resources that God created right underfoot on American soil.”

So now we know that by resigning as governor of Alaska, Palin had no intention of retiring — or of being shy and retiring. We can only assume that we will be seeing and hearing more of her forays into substance. It’s the best way to rehabilitate her ditzy image — an image created because “many in the media would rather focus on the personality-driven gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges.”

In case anyone doubts the presidential ambition of her save-the-economy essay, the last words should clear things up: “Yes we can. Just not with Barack Obama’s energy cap-and-tax plan.” Sarah Palin is serving notice that it’s a long while till 2012, with plenty of time to repair an image or, for that matter, create an entirely different one.

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