The Dopiness of Sarah Palin

Washington, D.C., September 7, 2015 — Sarah Palin is a dope (which should come as no surprise). Appearing in a CNN interview last Sunday, Palin said she would like to become energy secretary in a Trump administration so she could “get rid of” the agency and fire herself, as if she were part of Trump’s “Apprentice” TV program.

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“I think a lot about the Department of Energy because energy is my baby,” said the former Republican governor of Alaska and Republican vice presidential running mate in 2008. “And if I were in charge, I would get rid of that. And I would let the states start having more control over the lands that are within their boundaries and the people who are affected by the developments within their space.”

Palin added, “So, you know, if I were in charge of that, it would be a short-term job. But it would be really great to have someone who knows energy and is pro-responsible development to be in charge.”

While I have long advocated getting rid of DOE, it has nothing to do with Palin’s delusions.

She doesn’t know what she thinks she knows. If Palin knew about, as she puts it, “oil and gas and minerals,” she would want to be interior secretary. Interior (and the White House) call the shots on mineral recovery and other land use issues on federal lands and offshore. She clearly knows nothing about the DOE, although she claims she has been thinking a lot about it. She also doesn’t appear to know much about DOI, perhaps the most important federal agency in Alaska.

My beef with DOE is that it is a fraud. It does not have much to do with energy. It manages the nation’s nuclear weapons program with varying success. It is an R&D agency that largely does a crummy job at managing energy R&D. It is no better or more efficient than the various programs Jimmy Carter and Jim Schlesinger raked in from sundry older agencies to create DOE in 1977.

Palin would not be the first energy secretary who came into office with a desire to dismantle the energy agency. Former Michigan Republican Sen. Spencer Abraham railed against DOE when he was in Congress. When he left office as the first energy secretary in the George W. Bush administration, he had changed his views. He’s now a lobbyist for energy companies seeking DOE largess.

Should Palin get her wish to be named energy secretary, she would also quickly discover that cabinet secretaries (and even the president) can’t terminate cabinet agencies. The Reagan administration made a run at killing DOE and soon discovered that only Congress can create or destroy cabinet agencies. Congress wasn’t willing to give up an agency with a cornucopia of bacon-scented benefits it could bestow on constituents. It was an embarrassing defeat for Reagan early in his years at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

But Palin clearly doesn’t know any of that, because Sarah Palin is a dope.