For those of you who have no idea who Mike Gravel is, the long and short of it is he served as a Democratic Senator from Alaska from 1969 to 1981; he was instrumental in the construction of the Trans-Alaska pipeline. He later ran for President, first as a Democrat and then as a Libertarian, in 2008. His positions include being staunchly anti-war; opposing the War on Drugs; and supporting abortion-on-demand, the FairTax and a single-payer health care system (as did Obama, way back when). You may remember two of his infamous, freaky avant-garde YouTube campaign advertisements, “Rock” and “Fire”. He continued this trend as a Libertarian candidate.
Gravel first spoke about Governor Palin publicly in an interview with the far-Left (and tax-funded) Pacifica Radio not long after the Guv was announced as John McCain’s running mate. The hosts were clearly eager to goad Gravel into bashing her, but he would have none of it. In fact, the interview was often contentious, with Gravel defending Palin’s record better than most, if not all, of McCain’s surrogates did during the entire campaign.
The entire thing is excellent, particularly Gravel’s defending Palin as a corruption-buster and on Troopergate, but perhaps the best part came after Gravel dismissed speculation about the maternity of Trig Palin as “none of our damn business” and a distraction from the issues (at 5:20):
GRAVEL: If you want to be technical, she has more executive experience than Obama, Biden and McCain have together.
HOST: On the national level?
GRAVEL: On any level!
HOST: But she has not served in national politics, Mike. She has not served in national politics. Obama, at least, has been in the Senate longer. He was in a State Senate. Uh, and I want to just go back to the issue of the fact that—
GRAVEL: He was in the State Senate for the same amount of time that she was Mayor and on the City Council of Wasilla! (Emphasis added)
Gravel further articulated his views on Palin in the alternative newsletter CounterPunch:
Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska, has been plucked from obscurity and now shares the stage with three other national leaders vying to head the next government of the United States. Sarah is very much of an Alaskan character. Politicos and pundits will have difficulty handling her as she is being tested in the crucible of media scrutiny over the next nine weeks. My guess is, Americans will relate to her and love her story.
Foreign policy experience? Thank [G]od she has none beyond that of a normal citizen subject to the militarization of our culture over the past 50 years, particularly so in Alaska with its strong military presence. The three other would-be leaders have tons of experience among them. But whether liberal or conservative all three are committed to a policy of American imperialism with the self-appointed role of world policeman. This role of trying to influence the world with our military might sustains bloated defense budgets that profit the few and impoverish the social and economic needs of the many. [Editor's note: The Palin Doctrine certainly reflects a more restrained foreign policy than our current one.]
Sarah Palin has a sense of personal outrage over political corruption that plays extremely well with the public, something the others have lost long ago. She has demonstrated the personal courage to publicly confront and overcome Republican Party corruption and has successfully taken on the oil industry over taxation and oil leasing issues. She has publicly stood up to Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young on the “Bridge to Nowhere” and the policy of federal earmarks arguing for a public transparency process.
President Kennedy said that the White House is a poor place to make new friends. That’s why his father Joe Kennedy insisted Jack keep Bobby close to him. This would apply to the vice president office. Sarah: keep up the practice of having Todd hang out with you in your official capacities. Insist that he be given a clearance equal to yours, so that you are not excluded from the full depth of his counsel. If push comes to shove, he is the only one you can trust. He must study, read and grow in your office as quickly as you. What you face is more than one person can handle. The two of you must be a political and intellectual team.
One last piece of advice. Governor: you are now in the world of barracudas. It’s no different than Wassila or Juneau; they just pay more for food, clothing and their houses. But they have the same capacity for fear, greed and love. Sarah: if you refuse to sell out––you don’t need to––you have a glorious future ahead of you with your gift of courage, a virtue that permits you to implement all other virtues. Whether you can or will depends on your capacity to constantly re-exam your ideologies and grow politically and intellectually[.] (Emphases added)
Now, we must keep in mind that Gravel and Palin differ on many issues, and he has said he would never vote for her or Obama. But watch this interview he gave with Politico in December 2009:
REPORTER: Do you feel like Governor Palin represents what Alaska is all about?
GRAVEL: She’s very Alaskan, much more Alaskan than I was, because I never hunt or fish. I like to do camping outdoors, hiking, but I never, never like to hunt or fish.
REPORTER: How about her politics?
GRAVEL: Well, I think her politics are terrible [We respectfully beg to differ. -Ed.], but that doesn’t detract from the fact that she’s a very talented person. And you’re going to see her really take the time to improve her presentation on issues as time moves forward.
REPORTER: Now, you ran for President. Do you think that she could actually run for President next time around?
GRAVEL: Oh, no question about it. She’s going to run for President, and I think she’s going to surprise a lot of people. (Emphasis added)
A quick final note: In her final State of the State Address, Governor Palin opened with a tongue-in-cheek line about the Presidential election from just a few months prior:
Now, 2008, it was the year that America looked to Alaska. One of our own sprang to national attention. And there was political drama, and controversy, and lively debate, and a few awkward moments, and in the end, some disappointment. But what a glorious debut for a unique Alaskan. And we congratulate our own former Senator, Mike Gravel.
Sarah Palin and Mike Gravel: Two unconventional public servants from our 49th State, with very different political perspectives, but one important area of common ground: class.
Top that, Nicole.