‘Incurious about the mechanism of government’

‘INCURIOUS ABOUT THE MECHANISM OF GOVERNMENT’…. I find profile stories about Sarah Palin’s governing style fascinating, in large part because of how strikingly similar she sounds to George W. Bush.

Today, for example, the Washington Post had a good item about Palin’s strengths and weaknesses as a governor — she’s apparently very good at sensing the public’s mood, and very bad at actually rolling up her sleeves and working. One anecdote, about the work on Alaska’s natural gas pipeline project, was consistent with other recent reports.

…Palin struck some lawmakers as curiously detached from the process. In early March 2007, she invited the state Senate’s leaders to her office for a preview of the pipeline legislation. To the astonishment of the five senators and their aides, she barely said a word for the hour. As staff members explained her signature plan, the governor was preoccupied with her two BlackBerries.

“It was so bizarre. We all talked about it afterwards,” said a legislative source, one of three participants in the meeting who recounted the governor’s silence. “We all said, ‘What was that? Was she even paying attention?’ ”

[Stephen Haycox, a historian at the University of Alaska at Anchorage] summed up a common criticism of Palin: “She seems as if she is incurious about the mechanism of government.”

We’ve been getting a lot of reports lately about how Palin gets bored and detached when it’s time to get policy work done. Larry Persily, who worked for Palin’s Washington office, noted that some of the governor’s problems resulted from the fact that she “underestimated exponentially how much more complex state government is than the city of Wasilla.” Persily said Palin is smart but has “never” been “deeply engaged.”

Republican state Rep. Mike Hawker added, “[Palin’s] administration had the appearance of paying absolutely no attention to any of the rest of the unglamorous side of government.”

The Anchorage Daily News’ Gregg Erickson had a similar assessment: “[Palin] tends to oversimplify complex issues…. It is clear that she has not paid much attention to the nitty-gritty unglamorous work of government…. She seems to be of the view that politics should be all rather simple.”

She’s not engaged on federal issues and not engaged on state issues. Great.