Sarah Palin: The good, the bad and the very ugly

“I said, ‘You know, Sarah, within 10 years you could be governor.  She replied, ‘I want to be president.’ ” – Laura Chase, Sarah Palin’s campaign manager during Palin’s 1996 first run for mayor, recalled the night the two women chatted about her ambitions.

The Sunday New York Times printed a scathing front page article on Sarah Palin,Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes. 

This article examined the ‘swift rise and record of Palin as mayor of Wasilla’ and Alaska governor.  It addressed ‘her visceral style and penchant for attacking critics.’  She called her local opponents ‘haters.’   The article says that ‘throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance …”

“Gov. Sarah Palin lives by the maxim that all politics is local, not to mention personal.”

Palin does have many supporters.  Her accomplishments, unquestioningly, benefited her constituents – at least on the surface.  In Wasilla, they saw paved roads and a new ice rink and of course a $20+ million debt.  As governor, she received credit for taking on the political corruption in Alaska and increased the taxes on the oil companies returning the money to the Alaskan residents.  John McCain is against these windfall profit taxes on the oil companies but it has proven very successful and popular in Alaska

Everything she does is for the ordinary working people of Alaska.” – Alaska Lt. Governor Sean Parnell.

She has raised money for now-indicted Senator Ted Stevens.  She ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2002, finishing second in the Republican primary. 

Palin was appointed to chair a state commission overseeing oil and gas drilling by Governor Murkowski.  She discovered that Randy Ruedrich, a commission member and Alaska Republican leader, was ‘conducting party business on state time and favoring regulated companies.’  ‘Murkowski failed to act on her complaints’ so Palin quit and went public. 

Corruption concerns

But there is also the negative side to her political career.  Many have come out publicly while other items have not – yet.  I am still waiting on my election ethics story to come out – where the Republican Governors’ Association illegally paid for a mailer to Alaskan voters and for a television ad that ran for 47 days.  The RGA was fined for the latter.  [Read here] 

By now, we’ve all heard about Trooper-Gate and how just 2 days ago the McCain campaign announced that Palin will not cooperate with the investigator in this case.  There is a similar situation that the Times broke in this article.  (Trooper-Gate II?)

… Interviews make clear that the Palins draw few distinctions between the personal and the political.

Last summer State Representative John Harris, the Republican speaker of the House, picked up his phone and heard Mr. Palin’s voice. The governor’s husband sounded edgy. He said he was unhappy that Mr. Harris had hired John Bitney as his chief of staff, the speaker recalled. Mr. Bitney was a high school classmate of the Palins and had worked for Ms. Palin. But she fired Mr. Bitney after learning that he had fallen in love with another longtime friend.

“I understood from the call that Todd wasn’t happy with me hiring John and he’d like to see him not there,” Mr. Harris said.

The Palin family gets upset at personal issues,” he added. “And at our level, they want to strike back.”

The more we learn about Sarah Palin and her political career, the more it sounds like a teen movie and Palin is the head cheerleader.  Wasilla High School Cheerleaders go to Washington.

There has been much banter about Palin talking of banning books from the Wasilla library.  I think it is clearly understood that no books were actually banned and it had never progressed past the discussion stage – or had it? 

 

“People would bring books back censored,” recalled former Mayor John Stein, Ms. Palin’s predecessor. “Pages would get marked up or torn out.”

Witnesses and contemporary news accounts say Ms. Palin asked the librarian about removing books from the shelves. The McCain-Palin presidential campaign says Ms. Palin never advocated censorship.

But in 1995, Ms. Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues that she had noticed the book “Daddy’s Roommate” on the shelves and that it did not belong there, according to Ms. Chase and Mr. Stein. Ms. Chase read the book, which helps children understand homosexuality, and said it was inoffensive; she suggested that Ms. Palin read it.

Sarah said she didn’t need to read that stuff,” Ms. Chase said. “It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn’t even read it.”

I’m still proud of Sarah,” she added, “but she scares the bejeebers out of me.”

The Alaskan Republican Party leader Randy Ruedrich, as mentioned above, was taken down because he conducted party business on state time.  It was discovered that Palin was doing something similar.

Lawmakers in April accused her of improperly culling thousands of e-mail addresses from a state database for a mass mailing to rally support for a policy initiative.

While Ms. Palin took office promising a more open government, her administration has battled to keep information secret. Her inner circle discussed the benefit of using private e-mail addresses. An assistant told her it appeared that such e-mail messages sent to a private address on a “personal device” like a BlackBerry “would be confidential and not subject to subpoena.”

Ms. Palin and aides use their private e-mail addresses for state business. A campaign spokesman said the governor copied e-mail messages to her state account “when there was significant state business.”

On Feb. 7, Frank Bailey, a high-level aide, wrote to Ms. Palin’s state e-mail address to discuss appointments. Another aide fired back: “Frank, this is not the governor’s personal account.”

Mr. Bailey responded: “Whoops!”

Questions on her knowledge and understanding of policy

If you have seen the Palin interview last week with Charles Gibson, you most probably noticed that Palin had little understanding of policy beyond the verbal regurgitation given to her by her tutors.  Watching her, I was reminded of President Bush as she parroted his position on many issues.  The giveaway was the use of the word ‘NUCULER.’ 

During the 2006 Governor forums with former two-term Democratic governor Tony Knowles and Independent challenger Andrew Halcro, she used ‘hand-written, color-coded index cards strategically placed behind her nameplate.’ 

Before one forum, Mr. Halcro said he saw aides shovel reports at Ms. Palin as she crammed. Her showman’s instincts rarely failed. She put the pile of reports on the lectern. Asked what she would do about health care policy, she patted the stack and said she would find an answer in the pile of solutions.

As Secretive as Bush – Cheney?

Above all, this should frighten us the most.  The excessive secretive behavior by the current administration will be legendary.  They repeatedly cite executive privilege for issues that shouldn’t be covered by it. 

Palin has ordered Wasilla employees not to talk to the press.  As many examples as I hear, none are more amazing than the following: 

She eloped with Todd without telling anyone. 

She kept her pregnancy with Trig a secret until her seventh month – keeping it even from her family.

Her parents said they found out that their daughter was a candidate for the Vice Presidency when a reporter called them just before John McCain introduced Palin as his running mate. 

I expect my politicians to be able to keep a secret, but she seems to be more obsessive about it than most.

As Ms. Palin’s star ascends, the McCain campaign, as often happens in national races, is controlling the words of those who know her well. Her mother-in-law, Faye Palin, has been asked not to speak to reporters, and aides sit in on interviews with old friends.

At a recent lunch gathering, an official with the Wasilla Chamber of Commerce asked its members to refer all calls from reporters to the governor’s office. Dianne Woodruff, a city councilwoman, shook her head.

“I was thinking, I don’t remember giving up my First Amendment rights,” Ms. Woodruff said. “Just because you’re not going gaga over Sarah doesn’t mean you can’t speak your mind.”

 

More to come . . .

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2 responses to “Sarah Palin: The good, the bad and the very ugly

  1. Airborneranger

    Nice lead in from Palin to Bush. You can’t be a successful spin doctor if you can’t get Bush’s name into the piece, even though he’s not running for office. Just once I would like to have one of you liberal clowns point out all the transgresses that Bush has suuposely committed

  2. It’s not spin, Air. This is showing that Palin has similar traits to Bush – our current president. If you want to talk about spin, why don’t you explain why your right wing friends at Fox and Rush mentioned Clinton every time someone questioned anything about the Bush administration for about 6 years? You even brought up Clinton on another comment.

    Now I know you’re reaching or living in a Rush bubble if you are completely unaware of the Bush list. Then again, Fox has spun this McCain campaign suspension into a positive. You can use Google to find the list.