From Unbalanced Libra comes an excellent synopsis of Sarah Palin's accomplishments:
The most recent comment I received regarding Sarah Palin, from 'anonymous' no less - that she is a bimbo - gave me motivation to do a bit of research on the subject of accomplishments. So, just what did Sarah Palin accomplish? Are ya ready? This is going to be a long post!
Firstly, there is no government closer to the people than at the municipal level. Palin spent eight years in city government, winning a seat on the Wasilla City Council in 1992 mostly thanks to her opposition to tax increases. She went on to serve two council terms from 1992 to 1996. She was elected mayor of the fast-growing Anchorage suburb in 1996 and again in 1999. Mayor Palin had a record of reducing property tax levels, increasing municipal services and attracting new industry to her town. During her tenure in Wassilla, she was elected chair of Alaska's conference of mayors.
Next for Sarah Palin was service as chair of the Alaska Conservation Committee, a board which regulates the state's oil and gas industry. In this appointive position she began to gain what would become extensive and valuable knowledge and experience in the area of one of America's most pressing issues - energy. It was in this job where Palin first really demonstrated the toughness, political courage and maverick spirit that would years later so impress presidential candidate John McCain.
She resigned in January 2004 as head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission after complaining to the office of Governor Frank Murkowski and to state Attorney General Gregg Renkes about ethical violations by another commissioner, Randy Ruedrich, who was also Republican state chairman.
State law barred Palin from speaking out publicly about ethical violations and corruption. However, she was vindicated later in 2004 when Ruedrich, who'd been reconfirmed as state chairman, agreed to pay a $12,000 fine for breaking state ethics laws. She became a hero in the eyes of the public and the press, and the bane of Republican leaders.
In 2005, she continued to take on the Republican establishment by joining Eric Croft, a Democrat, in lodging an ethics complaint against Renkes, who was not only attorney general but also a long-time adviser and campaign manager for Murkowski. The governor reprimanded Renkes and said the case was closed. It wasn't. Renkes resigned a few weeks later, and Palin was again hailed as a hero.
In 2006, Palin ran for governor and was elected in a landslide. According to Fred Barnes:
With her emphasis on ethics and openness in government, "it turned out Palin caught the temper of the times perfectly," wrote Tom Kizzia of the Anchorage Daily News. She was also lucky. News broke of an FBI investigation of corruption by legislators between the primary and general elections. So far, three legislators have been indicted.
In the roughly three years since she quit as the state's chief regulator of the oil industry, Palin has crushed the Republican hierarchy (virtually all male) and nearly every other foe or critic. Political analysts in Alaska refer to the "body count" of Palin's rivals.
"The landscape is littered with the bodies of those who crossed Sarah," says pollster Dave Dittman, who worked for her gubernatorial campaign. It includes Ruedrich, Renkes, Murkowski, gubernatorial contenders John Binkley and Andrew Halcro, the three big oil companies in Alaska, and a section of the Daily News called "Voice of the Times," which was highly critical of Palin and is now defunct.
As governor, Sarah Palin's list of accomplishments lengthened rapidly. She used her line-item veto to cut $268 million from Alaska's state budget.
She stood up to some of Alaska's most entrenched interests, including three big oil companies (BP, ConocoPhilips, and ExxonMobil) who hold the lease rights to much of Alaska's oil and gas wealth:
Once in office, Palin took an aggressive stance toward the oil companies. Her nickname from high-school basketball, "Sarah Barracuda," was resurrected in the press. Early in her term, she shocked oil lobbyists when she was so bold as to not show up when Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson came to Juneau to meet with her. Palin, after scrapping Murkowski's deal, would not give Big Oil the terms they wanted, yet insisted that the companies still had an obligation under their lease to deliver gas to whatever pipeline Alaska built. She invited the oil companies to place open bids to build a pipeline, but they refused. A bid by TransCanada, North America's largest pipeline builder, was approved by the legislature in August.
Palin also raised taxes on oil companies after Murkowski's previous tax regime produced falling revenues in 2007, despite skyrocketing oil prices. Alaska now has some of the highest resource taxes in the world. Alaska's oil tax revenues are expected to be about $10 billion in 2008, twice those of previous year. BP says about half its oil revenues now go to taxes, when royalty payments to the state are included. Recently, Palin approved gas tax relief for Alaskans, and paid every resident $1,200 to help ease their fuel-price burden.
Some other Palin accomplishments include supporting and signing an ethics bill passed by the Alaska legislature and creating the Alaska Health Strategies Planning Council to find innovative solutions to effectively provide access to, and help reduce the costs of, healthcare.
As governor, Palin is commander of her state's National Guard. Not content to merely sit on the title, she traveled to Kuwait to learn about her troops' mission there. On the return trip to Alaska, she stopped in Germany to to visit wounded soldiers in the hospital, an activity that Barack Obama did not see fit to engage in during his own overseas venture, blaming the Pentagon for his snubbing of the wounded.
More accomplishments: Gov. Palin signed a resolution in opposition to the FAA's plan to increase taxes on aviation fuel, impose user fees and slash airport funding. Also, before Palin became governor, her predecessor Frank Murkowski had purchsed a Westwind Two business jet for the governor's use at a $2.5 million price tag, despite the objections from the state legislature and the public. Her first order of business after taking office was to put the jet up for sale.
Palin did keep the governor's state-owned Chevy Suburban, but she got rid of the driver, saying it was wasteful for the state to pay someone to drive her around, since she was perfectly capable of driving herself. The governor's gourmet chef also got changed from a full-time to a seasonal-only basis because Palin considered it a luxury she didn't think Alaskans should be paying for. Her political enemies called all this "superficial pandering."
Alaska is the only one of America's states which borders on two foreign countries. Sarah Palin is chief executive of our most important energy state, one which lies only a few miles from Russian territory. She has negotiated sensitive agreements on fishing rights and other matters to keep the peace up there. She's also worked on important trade deals with other countries. She has received foreign heads of state and had discussions with them.
There are many benefits to having Governor Sarah Palin on the GOP presidential ticket, and many of them have been already been discussed extensively by both new media and old in the few short days since John McCain introduced her to the GOP in Ohio. They all rest on a rock-solid base of achievement. She is one very accomplished vice presidential nominee.