Thursday, July 9, 2009

Power easy to get in Alaska

Becoming the governor of Alaska is starting to look pretty easy. Sarah Palin got elected on the strength of her experience "running" Wasilla and sitting on some government board. I thought that was a jump, but rapid and bewildering promotions are apparently part of Alaskan culture...Palin's legal successor is the guy who runs their prisons:

The state Legislature already confirmed a line of succession [to Governor Palin] under which corrections commissioner Joe Schmidt should be taking over as lieutenant governor.
Not the treasurer, head of the legislature, or attorney general. Not even the mayor of the largest city. No...the chief corrections officer takes over if the governorship of Alaska opens up. I'm not sure I'd want the state's chief jailer suddenly becoming the state's chief executive, but it's not my state. I'm not sure what role the lieutenant governor of Alaska then fills, but again -- it's not my state.

As for why this happened, my best guess is reminiscent of Britain's 1701 Act of Settlement. As the eighteenth century dawned, the reigning Princess Anne was getting in poor shape and thoughts turned to the next monarch of England. Such thinkers quickly realized that the 50 or so closest "heirs to the throne" according to law were all Catholic. Consequently, British succession law was hastily re-written to ensure that the next monarch was Protestant, whoever it would have to be. had to be some German fellow who couldn't even speak English. That's right, when King George I of England acceded to the English throne, he couldn't speak English, which I imagine was awkward in all sorts of ways.

So, I can only guess the Alaska Legislature created their own cognate of the Act of Settlement in order to steer power away from Palin and her buddies. Instead, the chief jailer will now be running the state. Hopefully, it works out better for them.

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