Alaska Editorial: More information on Palin's political action committee is needed

Posted: Friday, February 06, 2009

G ov. Sarah Palin should spend a little more time explaining her new federal political action committee to Alaskans and reveal what it means, if anything, about her future plans.

Some interpret the creation of this PAC as confirmation that Palin wants to run for the office of U.S. president in four years. But it could have other meanings as well. And the governor denied Wednesday that it signaled a presidential bid.

What does it signal, then? Gov. Palin should clarify, even if that clarification reveals that she has no specific plans.

The answers aren't on the Web site. The site, which states that Palin is honorary chair of the PAC, speaks in broad terms: "SarahPac will support local and national candidates who share Gov. Palin's ideas and goals for our country." That's fine, but such PACs generally are created by politicians who hope to elevate their own prominence in some way.

The Web site explanation also differs from the one offered by the governor to reporters Wednesday morning: "It's helpful to have a PAC so that when I'm invited to things even like to speak at the Lincoln Day dinner in Fairbanks, to have a PAC pay for that instead of have the state pay for that because that could be considered quasi-political," she said.

Alaskans, who chose Palin to lead us for these four years, deserve a more complete, consistent explanation.

Of course, even if Palin wants to run for president, now may not be the time to announce it. In the meantime, the PAC could help maintain her options. She has already said that she would open the doors of opportunity if they are presented to her. The PAC might be a way to encourage the doors to appear, and to ensure she has the power to open them.

Republicans are pondering how to regain the presidency and majorities in Congress. There is much debate about whether various planks in the party platform should be modified to become more or less conservative.

The outcome of those debates could be influenced by the knowledge that a social conservative with phenomenal name recognition and a strong base could make a bid for the 2012 presidential race. The presence of such a potential candidate could suggest to party officials that they avoid doing anything that would put that candidate in an awkward position. The PAC, by its mere creation, could give Palin a way to influence the direction of her party.

Then again, PACs of this sort are commonly created by members of Congress who have no presidential aspirations. Members of Alaska's congressional delegation each have sponsored a PAC for many years, for example. So Palin's creation of this organization could simply reflect an interest in one of Alaska's congressional seats. At least one of those is open every two years.

The PAC could just be a way to pay for travel to political events, such as the Republicans' Lincoln Day dinner here on Feb. 14 and several upcoming events in Washington, D.C.

Or it could be all of the above. Alaskans would love to hear a little bit more about the governor's intent.

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