Tahlequah Daily Press

March 17, 2014

Palin endorsement won’t do too much for T.W. Shannon


TAHLEQUAH — So Sarah Palin has endorsed former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Tom Coburn. We’re not impressed, and we doubt too many other folks in Cherokee County will be, either.

This is the Sarah Palin who cost U.S. Sen. John McCain the presidency after a dim-bulb staffer closed his eyes, opened a book listing ultra-conservative female politicians, and dropped a finger on a name from Alaska. It’s the same Sarah Palin who has been written off by many embarrassed Republicans as having the same intellectual acumen as a barrel of hair.

Does Shannon really want to hitch his wagon to this particular mule? He already has some solid conservative credentials – a bit too conservative in some ways, according to a Press poll Folks around here would sure like to see someone in that seat who can cross party lines, as Coburn was known to do. And they’d like to see someone who is just as quick to denounce “corporate welfare” as the other kind, when it’s fraudulently and unnecessarily obtained. Coburn may not have been as popular here as he was in other parts of Oklahoma, but he was respected for his tendency to consider issues one at a time, rather than toeing the line on Republican Party politics. Corporate interests and wealthy donors couldn’t always count on him to be their friend.

Two other GOP politicians from Oklahoma who can work both sides of the aisle say they won’t seek Coburn’s seat: 4th District U.S. Congressman Tom Cole, and State Sen. Doug Cox, of Grove. That’s too bad, because both of these men could command considerable support even among this county’s 16,000-plus Democrats. Both are moderate to conservative, and are known for their no-nonsense approach to volatile issues.

On the Democratic side, a few local Republicans have indicated they might support Dan Boren, who was one of the leading “blue dog” Democrats when he served this district. Prominent businessmen in the area – like Kirk Boatright – got along very well with Boren. Drew Edmondson would also make a strong showing here, with his long-time advocacy of the Illinois River and its related issues. At this point, it seems doubtful either will run.

Several other politicians have tossed their hats into the ring, and therein lies the problem. Cynical voters – and practically all of us are in that group – are beginning to turn up their noses at “career politicians,” or those who aspire to the label. We wonder why we can’t get a good “citizen legislator” to represent us anymore – perhaps a savvy businessman who will look out for the “little guy” just as zealously as he does the corporate giants, or someone with years in the medical field, or higher education, who has a good handle on Oklahoma’s particular issues.

Getting a senator we can all stand to look at and listen to is probably a pipe dream, but we can still research and educate ourselves, and vote the best way we can. It’s a sure bet Sarah Palin’s stamp of approval isn’t going to convince anyone with at least as much sense as God gave a goat.