September 24, 2008
With today’s kerfuffle over the media being kept away from Sarah Palin’s meetings with foreign leaders — like there was a risk she’d answer their shouted questions? — I’ve been mulling over Colby’s post about the Hannity-Palin “100 percent pure infomercial” interview. I watched both nights, then read the transcripts, and I think the interview hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserved. While I agree with Colby’s assessment that the audience was “treated to a political advertisement aimed at serving the interests of the Republican presidential ticket,” I think the Hannity love-fest offered a valuable look at Palin, perhaps more revealing because she was on such friendly territory. For all the softballs Hannity tossed her way, Palin did not come off very well, in my view. If this was a political commercial, I wasn’t buying the product.
The way she answers questions brings to mind — I have Alaska on the brain, admittedly — the image of a polar bear, jumping from rhetorical ice floe to ice floe, drifting some but eventually managing to get safely to dry land. No flubs, but you get the sense that she could plunge into the icy water at any moment. Palin has an odd tendency to use the same word twice in a sentence, as in, “The people of American realize that inherently all political power is inherent in the people,” or, about John McCain, “He can surpass the partisanship that must be surpassed to deal with an issue like this.” Or, combining word repetition with another Palin verbal tic, word dropping, this about the economic meltdown: “Well, you know, first Fannie and Freddie, different because quasi-government agencies there where government had to step in because the adverse impact all across our nation, especially with homeowners, is just too impacting.”
Ok, not everyone is Daniel Webster. Palin isn’t the first politician to dwell in the land of anodyne clichés such as, “We sort of have a do-nothing Senate right now where nobody is really wanting to pick up the ball and run with it.” Yet I always got the sense listening to George W. Bush tying himself up in rhetorical knots that his problem was more in the nature of getting the words to come out of his mouth correctly, not so much that he didn’t know what to say. Palin — I’m not so sure.
An Alaska friend tells me that Palin has always benefited from being underestimated. Maybe I’m doing that. Maybe I’ve been around polished politicians too long to appreciate the unvarnished authenticity that obviously appeals to many voters. But there’s no Palin interview I’ve listened to, before or after her selection, that gave me the sense that she had anything but a millimeter-thin understanding of the issues facing the country she hopes to help lead.
Consider this exchange.
Hannity: What is our role as a country as it relates to national security?
Palin: Yes. That’s a great question, and being an optimist I see our role in the world as one of being a force for good, and one of being the leader of the world when it comes to the values that — it seems that just human kind embraces the values that — encompass life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that’s just — not just in America, that is in our world.
And America is in a position because we care for so many people to be able to lead and to be able to have a strong diplomacy and a strong military also at the same time to defend not only our freedoms, but to help these rising smaller democratic countries that are just — you know, they’re putting themselves on the map right now, and they’re going to be looking to America as that leader.
We being used as a force for good is how I see our country.
Whew. Made it to the other side of that one.
Can’t wait for the debate. I bet it will be impacting.
September 22, 2008
September 19, 2008
Source: NY Times
WASILLA, Alaska — Gov. Sarah Palin lives by the maxim that all politics is local, not to mention personal.
So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.
Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages.
When Ms. Palin had to cut her first state budget, she avoided the legion of frustrated legislators and mayors. Instead, she huddled with her budget director and her husband, Todd, an oil field worker who is not a state employee, and vetoed millions of dollars of legislative projects.
And four months ago, a Wasilla blogger, Sherry Whitstine, who chronicles the governor’s career with an astringent eye, answered her phone to hear an assistant to the governor on the line, she said.
“You should be ashamed!” Ivy Frye, the assistant, told her. “Stop blogging. Stop blogging right now!”
Ms. Palin walks the national stage as a small-town foe of “good old boy” politics and a champion of ethics reform. The charismatic 44-year-old governor draws enthusiastic audiences and high approval ratings. And as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, she points to her management experience while deriding her Democratic rivals, Senators Barack Obama and Joseph R. Biden Jr., as speechmakers who never have run anything.
But an examination of her swift rise and record as mayor of Wasilla and then governor finds that her visceral style and penchant for attacking critics — she sometimes calls local opponents “haters” — contrasts with her carefully crafted public image.
Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.
Still, Ms. Palin has many supporters. As a two-term mayor she paved roads and built an ice rink, and as governor she has pushed through higher taxes on the oil companies that dominate one-third of the state’s economy. She stirs deep emotions. In Wasilla, many residents display unflagging affection, cheering “our Sarah” and hissing at her critics.
“She is bright and has unfailing political instincts,” said Steve Haycox, a history professor at the University of Alaska. “She taps very directly into anxieties about the economic future.”
“But,” he added, “her governing style raises a lot of hard questions.”
Ms. Palin declined to grant an interview for this article. The McCain-Palin campaign responded to some questions on her behalf and that of her husband, while referring others to the governor’s spokespeople, who did not respond.
Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell said Ms. Palin had conducted an accessible and effective administration in the public’s interest. “Everything she does is for the ordinary working people of Alaska,” he said.
In Wasilla, a builder said he complained to Mayor Palin when the city attorney put a stop-work order on his housing project. She responded, he said, by engineering the attorney’s firing.
Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.
Rick Steiner, a University of Alaska professor, sought the e-mail messages of state scientists who had examined the effect of global warming on polar bears. (Ms. Palin said the scientists had found no ill effects, and she has sued the federal government to block the listing of the bears as endangered.) An administration official told Mr. Steiner that his request would cost $468,784 to process.
When Mr. Steiner finally obtained the e-mail messages — through a federal records request — he discovered that state scientists had in fact agreed that the bears were in danger, records show.
“Their secrecy is off the charts,” Mr. Steiner said.
State legislators are investigating accusations that Ms. Palin and her husband pressured officials to fire a state trooper who had gone through a messy divorce with her sister, charges that she denies. But 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.”
Through a campaign spokesman, Mr. Palin said he “did not recall” referring to Mr. Bitney in the conversation.
Laura Chase, the campaign manager during Ms. Palin’s first run for mayor in 1996, recalled the night the two women chatted about her ambitions.
“I said, ‘You know, Sarah, within 10 years you could be governor,’ ” Ms. Chase recalled. “She replied, ‘I want to be president.’ ”
Ms. Palin grew up in Wasilla, an old fur trader’s outpost and now a fast-growing exurb of Anchorage. The town sits in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, edged by jagged mountains and birch forests. In the 1930s, the Roosevelt administration took farmers from the Dust Bowl area and resettled them here; their Democratic allegiances defined the valley for half a century.
In the past three decades, socially conservative Oklahomans and Texans have flocked north to the oil fields of Alaska. They filled evangelical churches around Wasilla and revived the Republican Party. Many of these working-class residents formed the electoral backbone for Ms. Palin, who ran for mayor on a platform of gun rights, opposition to abortion and the ouster of the “complacent” old guard.
After winning the mayoral election in 1996, Ms. Palin presided over a city rapidly outgrowing itself. Septic tanks had begun to pollute lakes, and residential lots were carved willy-nilly out of the woods. She passed road and sewer bonds, cut property taxes but raised the sales tax.
And, her supporters say, she cleaned out the municipal closet, firing veteran officials to make way for her own team. “She had an agenda for change and for doing things differently,” said Judy Patrick, a City Council member at the time.
But careers were turned upside down. The mayor quickly fired the town’s museum director, John Cooper. Later, she sent an aide to the museum to talk to the three remaining employees. “He told us they only wanted two,” recalled Esther West, one of the three, “and we had to pick who was going to be laid off.” The three quit as one.
Ms. Palin cited budget difficulties for the museum cuts. Mr. Cooper thought differently, saying the museum had become a microcosm of class and cultural conflicts in town. “It represented that the town was becoming more progressive, and they didn’t want that,” he said.
Days later, Mr. Cooper recalled, a vocal conservative, Steve Stoll, sidled up to him. Mr. Stoll had supported Ms. Palin and had a long-running feud with Mr. Cooper. “He said: ‘Gotcha, Cooper,’ ” Mr. Cooper said.
Mr. Stoll did not recall that conversation, although he said he supported Ms. Palin’s campaign and was pleased when she fired Mr. Cooper.
In 1997, Ms. Palin fired the longtime city attorney, Richard Deuser, after he issued the stop-work order on a home being built by Don Showers, another of her campaign supporters.
Your attorney, Mr. Showers told Ms. Palin, is costing me lots of money.
“She told me she’d like to see him fired,” Mr. Showers recalled. “But she couldn’t do it herself because the City Council hires the city attorney.” Ms. Palin told him to write the council members to complain.
Meanwhile, Ms. Palin pushed the issue from the inside. “She started the ball rolling,” said Ms. Patrick, who also favored the firing. Mr. Deuser was soon replaced by Ken Jacobus, then the State Republican Party’s general counsel.
“Professionals were either forced out or fired,” Mr. Deuser said.
Ms. Palin ordered city employees not to talk to the press. And she used city money to buy a white Suburban for the mayor’s use — employees sarcastically called it the mayor-mobile.
The new mayor also tended carefully to her evangelical base. She appointed a pastor to the town planning board. And she began to eye the library. For years, social conservatives had pressed the library director to remove books they considered immoral.
“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.”
Restless ambition defined Ms. Palin in the early years of this decade. She raised money for Senator Ted Stevens, a Republican from the state; finished second in the 2002 Republican primary for lieutenant governor; and sought to fill the seat of Senator Frank H. Murkowski when he ran for governor.
Mr. Murkowski appointed his daughter to the seat, but as a consolation prize, he gave Ms. Palin the $125,000-a-year chairmanship of a state commission overseeing oil and gas drilling.
Ms. Palin discovered that the state Republican leader, Randy Ruedrich, a commission member, was conducting party business on state time and favoring regulated companies. When Mr. Murkowski failed to act on her complaints, she quit and went public.
The Republican establishment shunned her. But her break with the gentlemen’s club of oil producers and political power catapulted her into the public eye.
“She was honest and forthright,” said Jay Kerttula, a former Democratic state senator from Palmer.
Ms. Palin entered the 2006 primary for governor as a formidable candidate.
In the middle of the primary, a conservative columnist in the state, Paul Jenkins, unearthed e-mail messages showing that Ms. Palin had conducted campaign business from the mayor’s office. Ms. Palin handled the crisis with a street fighter’s guile.
“I told her it looks like she did the same thing that Randy Ruedrich did,” Mr. Jenkins recalled. “And she said, ‘Yeah, what I did was wrong.’ ”
Mr. Jenkins hung up and decided to forgo writing about it. His phone rang soon after.
Mr. Jenkins said a reporter from Fairbanks, reading from a Palin news release, demanded to know why he was “smearing” her. “Now I look at her and think: ‘Man, you’re slick,’ ” he said.
Ms. Palin won the primary, and in the general election she faced Tony Knowles, the former two-term Democratic governor, and Andrew Halcro, an independent.
Not deeply versed in policy, Ms. Palin skipped some candidate forums; at others, she flipped through 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.
“She was fresh, and she was tomorrow,” said Michael Carey, a former editorial page editor for The Anchorage Daily News. “She just floated along like Mary Poppins.”
Half a century after Alaska became a state, Ms. Palin was inaugurated as governor in Fairbanks and took up the reformer’s sword.
As she assembled her cabinet and made other state appointments, those with insider credentials were now on the outs. But a new pattern became clear. She surrounded herself with people she has known since grade school and members of her church.
Mr. Parnell, the lieutenant governor, praised Ms. Palin’s appointments. “The people she hires are competent, qualified, top-notch people,” he said.
Ms. Palin chose Talis Colberg, a borough assemblyman from the Matanuska valley, as her attorney general, provoking a bewildered question from the legal community: “Who?” Mr. Colberg, who did not return calls, moved from a one-room building in the valley to one of the most powerful offices in the state, supervising some 500 people.
“I called him and asked, ‘Do you know how to supervise people?’ ” said a family friend, Kathy Wells. “He said, ‘No, but I think I’ll get some help.’ ”
The Wasilla High School yearbook archive now doubles as a veritable directory of state government. Ms. Palin appointed Mr. Bitney, her former junior high school band-mate, as her legislative director and chose another classmate, Joe Austerman, to manage the economic development office for $82,908 a year. Mr. Austerman had established an Alaska franchise for Mailboxes Etc.
To her supporters — and with an 80 percent approval rating, she has plenty — Ms. Palin has lifted Alaska out of a mire of corruption. She gained the passage of a bill that tightens the rules covering lobbyists. And she rewrote the tax code to capture a greater share of oil and gas sale proceeds.
“Does anybody doubt that she’s a tough negotiator?” said State Representative Carl Gatto, Republican of Palmer.
Yet recent controversy has marred Ms. Palin’s reform credentials. In addition to the trooper investigation, 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~!”
Mr. Bailey, a former midlevel manager at Alaska Airlines who worked on Ms. Palin’s campaign, has been placed on paid leave; he has emerged as a central figure in the trooper investigation.
Another confidante of Ms. Palin’s is Ms. Frye, 27. She worked as a receptionist for State Senator Lyda Green before she joined Ms. Palin’s campaign for governor. Now Ms. Frye earns $68,664 as a special assistant to the governor. Her frequent interactions with Ms. Palin’s children have prompted some lawmakers to refer to her as “the babysitter,” a title that Ms. Frye disavows.
Like Mr. Bailey, she is an effusive cheerleader for her boss.
“YOU ARE SO AWESOME!” Ms. Frye typed in an e-mail message to Ms. Palin in March.
Many lawmakers contend that Ms. Palin is overly reliant on a small inner circle that leaves her isolated. Democrats and Republicans alike describe her as often missing in action. Since taking office in 2007, Ms. Palin has spent 312 nights at her Wasilla home, some 600 miles to the north of the governor’s mansion in Juneau, records show.
During the last legislative session, some lawmakers became so frustrated with her absences that they took to wearing “Where’s Sarah?” pins.
Many politicians say they typically learn of her initiatives — and vetoes — from news releases.
Mayors across the state, from the larger cities to tiny municipalities along the southeastern fiords, are even more frustrated. Often, their letters go unanswered and their pleas ignored, records and interviews show.
Last summer, Mayor Mark Begich of Anchorage, a Democrat, pressed Ms. Palin to meet with him because the state had failed to deliver money needed to operate city traffic lights. At one point, records show, state officials told him to just turn off a dozen of them. Ms. Palin agreed to meet with Mr. Begich when he threatened to go public with his anger, according to city officials.
At an Alaska Municipal League gathering in Juneau in January, mayors across the political spectrum swapped stories of the governor’s remoteness. How many of you, someone asked, have tried to meet with her? Every hand went up, recalled Mayor Fred Shields of Haines Borough. And how many met with her? Just a few hands rose. Ms. Palin soon walked in, delivered a few remarks and left for an anti-abortion rally.
The administration’s e-mail correspondence reveals a siege-like atmosphere. Top aides keep score, demean enemies and gloat over successes. Even some who helped engineer her rise have felt her wrath.
Dan Fagan, a prominent conservative radio host and longtime friend of Ms. Palin, urged his listeners to vote for her in 2006. But when he took her to task for raising taxes on oil companies, he said, he found himself branded a “hater.”
It is part of a pattern, Mr. Fagan said, in which Ms. Palin characterizes critics as “bad people who are anti-Alaska.”
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.”
September 17, 2008
The cryptic Internet posse known for its attacks on Scientology may have found a new target in Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Several self-proclaimed members of Anonymous, a loosely organized group associated with the message board 4Chan, apparently breached the Alaska governor’s personal Yahoo! account (email@example.com) late Tuesday night.
Sarah: The Palin Biography
McCain’s Surprise Pick: Sarah Palin
Palin and Troopergate: A Primer
The hacker posted screen shots of two e-mails, a Yahoo! inbox, a contact list and several family photos to Wikileaks.org, a site that anonymously hosts leaked government and corporate documents. Another screen shot purportedly shows a draft e-mail from Palin’s account to campaign aide Ivy Frye alerting her of the breach:
This email was hacked by anonymous, but I took no part in that. I simply got the password back, and changed it so no further damage could be done. Please get in contact with Sarah Palin and inform her the new password on this account is samsonite1.
Thank you and best wishes,
the good anonymous
The screen shots quickly spread across the Web to blogs like Gawker.
The two e-mail exchanges appear to involve state politicians — Alaskan Lieut. Governor Sean Parnell and Amy McCorkell, whom Palin appointed to the Governor’s Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse last year. Wired magazine reported that McCorkell confirmed the e-mail’s authenticity, though she later refused to comment to the Associated Press.
Palin’s other Yahoo! account (firstname.lastname@example.org) had already been hacked, so to speak, by federal authorities who are investigating her role in the firing of Walt Monegan, Alaska’s public safety commissioner. Critics charge that Palin fired Monegan for refusing to dismiss her former brother-in-law from his job as a state trooper. (The scandal has already earned a -gate suffix.) After Tuesday’s hacks were made public, both private accounts were deleted — an act that could technically constitute destruction of evidence.
The Alaska governor could also face charges for conducting official state business using her personal, unarchived e-mail account (a crime); some critics accuse her of skirting freedom-of-information laws in doing so. An Alaska Republican activist is trying to force Palin to release more than 1,100 e-mails she withheld from a public-records request, the Washington Post reported last week.
Rick Davis, campaign manager for the McCain-Palin campaign, issued a statement hours after the e-mail screen shots were posted: “This is a shocking invasion of the governor’s privacy and a violation of law. The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities, and we hope that anyone in possession of these e-mails will destroy them. We will have no further comment.” The Secret Service requested copies of the leaked e-mails from the Associated Press, but the news service did not comply. CNN reported that the FBI has also launched an investigation.
This is not the first time computer habits have become an issue for the McCain-Palin team. In January, John McCain told reporters that he didn’t know how to check e-mail. When asked whether he prefers a Mac or a PC, McCain replied, “Neither. I am an illiterate that has to rely on my wife for all of the assistance that I can get.” He later added, “I am learning to get online myself.” He might want to stay offline for the time being.
September 16, 2008
TEL AVIV – It was in the taxicab this morning that it finally struck me about Sarah Palin.
I get it. I get that millions of Americans have a crying need for someone to stand up and say the things that Sarah Palin has been telling them.
I get that many, many Americans are fed up with big government and shame in patriotism and energy dependence and media condescension. I recognize that there are many on the right who are galvanized by a woman addressing the nation in condemnation of gun control and abortions. It’s clear that many in the heartland and even on the Blue State coasts have been waiting years to hear someone take a take-no-prisoners verbal lash to Beltway waste and liberal political correctness and, by implication, to cultural pluralism and tree hugging and the very mention of the word Washington.
But it wasn’t until I got into the taxicab this morning, that I realized what the American voter truly faces this November.
The radio was playing a clip from her ABC News interview, the one in which she was asked about the Bush Doctrine.
The problem was not that she was unacquainted with the doctrine. Millions of Americans are unacquainted with it.
The problem is that Sarah Palin was also asking those millions of Americans to put her first in line for the most important position in humankind.
True, the Bush Doctrine, and the National Security Strategythat contains it, are not a one-sentence, easy to digest credo, and the doctrine is open to many interpretations. Sarah Palin had none of them.
This, despite the doctrine’s contribution to the fact that America is at war, and that Governor Palin’s own son is at war. This is the doctrine that underpins the policy that has had Americans fighting in Iraq two years longer than America fought World War II. And this is the doctrine which will serve as a guide if there is to be war in Iran.
The problem is that John McCain and Barack Obama and Joe Biden have spent years studying the assumptions and the foundations and the consequences of the Bush Doctrine. Governor Palin has not.
Yet Sarah Palin was proud of having had no hesitations, no reservations, no qualms about accepting John McCain’s offer to share the national ticket. It was a matter of ideology with her.
“I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can’t blink.
“So I didn’t blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.”
The question about the Bush Doctrine was not a trick. It was not a trivial point designed to make Sarah Palin look bad. It is the summary of a worldview that has guided American foreign and military policy for the seven years since September 11, 2001. It is America’s formal explanation for sending Americans into harm’s way. It is America’s explanation to the world for what America has done.
Even my Israeli cab driver, a non-American through and through, knew more about the Bush Doctrine than Sarah Palin. And that is cause for serious concern.
The cabbie knew, for example, that the doctrine provided for anticipatory self-defense, and pre-emptive strikes to forestall hostile acts even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack.
“This would never have happened in Israel, ever” remarked a journalist friend, referring to the choice of Governor Palin, whose credentials in the realms of foreign policy, statecraft and the military are limited in the extreme.
With irony bordering on the painful, the journalist added, “Sarah Palin has restored my faith in Israel.”
Israel is far from a model of good government, wise policymaking and exemplary leaders. But here, at least, voters and the politicians they make it their business to know inside and out, relate to politics not as if it were a spectacular bowl game or a reality show.but for what politics really is, in America and Israel both: a matter of life and death.
What, at root, are Americans looking for when they see Sarah Palin? A reprieve from their disappointment over elected officials? The prospect of cleaning house and overhauling a wasteful and ineffective Federal bureaucracy? Does she have what it takes to protect and rebuild an American slipping from the First World to the Third?
Or is Sarah Palin, in the end, a diversion, a curiosity, that most pressing of contemporary American needs: an entertainer?
We have little time to make a decision. We have heard McCain and Obama on the campaign trail for what seems like forever. And Biden has been a national figure for decades. Sarah Palin has less than 50 days to prove that she has the intelligence, the humility, the learning ability, and the wisdom to assume the burdens of the commander in chief. We have less than 50 days to learn about her.
George Bush, who spoke incessantly about leadership before his election, has had more than seven years to prove himself a leader, and managed to prove conclusively only that he was not.
This is what is truly frightening about Sarah Palin. There is something in the smugness, the faith-based rigidity, the dismissiveness, that suggests that once again, we may have a national leader who knows better how to divide than to rule.
True, for millions of people, Sarah Palin has lanced a cultural boil.
They feel anger, betrayal, and a profound alienation from the basic institutions of American life. The American dream is receding from them. She has given voice to the ache in their hearts, and, as such, has lifted their spirits.
Sarah Palin has given a voice to people who, even with an ostensibly fundamentalist Republican president in the White House, feel disenfranchised. It is not their Supreme Court, not their Congress. She has done a service for people unhappy with the America that they see. But that does not qualify her to be president.
Governor Palin has suggested that the special interests and superfluous bureaucrats are scared of her and the reforms she and John McCain intend to undertake. One hopes she’s right. But what is certainly scary about Sarah Palin is how little that voters know about her, and in particular, how much she herself recognizes that she needs to learn.
Asked during the interview if she had the ability and the experience to serve as president of the United States, she replied without hesitation, without reservation, without contemplation – and without knowing, on a profound level, what that would, in fact, entail. “I’m ready.”
Here is the answer that is truly frightening. It lets us know that the nation may be in danger of electing another leader bearing the most profound of George Bush’s shortcomings: blindness to one’s own shortcomings.
Blindness, that is, to the breadth and depth and height and shape of what one does not know. Say what you will about Donald Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary knew an unknown unknown when he saw one. Sarah Palin, for whom appearance is understandably significant, has one in her mirror.
September 16, 2008
Source: News Busters
A transcript of the unedited interview of Sarah Palin by Charles Gibson clearly shows that ABC News edited out crucial portions of the interview that showed Palin as knowledgeable or presented her answers out of context. This unedited transcript of the first of the Gibson interviews with Palin is available on radio host Mark Levin’s website. The sections edited out by ABC News are in bold. The first edit shows Palin responding about meeting with foreign leaders but this was actually in response to a question Gibson asked several questions earlier:
GIBSON: Have you ever met a foreign head of state?
PALIN: There in the state of Alaska, our international trade activities bring in many leaders of other countries.
GIBSON: And all governors deal with trade delegations.
GIBSON: Who act at the behest of their governments.
PALIN: Right, right.
GIBSON: I’m talking about somebody who’s a head of state, who can negotiate for that country. Ever met one?
PALIN: I have not and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you. But, Charlie, again, we’ve got to remember what the desire is in this nation at this time. It is for no more politics as usual and somebody’s big, fat resume maybe that shows decades and decades in that Washington establishment, where, yes, they’ve had opportunities to meet heads of state … these last couple of weeks … it has been overwhelming to me that confirmation of the message that Americans are getting sick and tired of that self-dealing and kind of that closed door, good old boy network that has been the Washington elite.
Next we see that Palin was not nearly as hostile towards Russia as was presented in the edited interview:
GIBSON: Let me ask you about some specific national security situations.
GIBSON: Let’s start, because we are near Russia, let’s start with Russia and Georgia.
The administration has said we’ve got to maintain the territorial integrity of Georgia. Do you believe the United States should try to restore Georgian sovereignty over South Ossetia and Abkhazia?
PALIN: First off, we’re going to continue good relations with Saakashvili there. I was able to speak with him the other day and giving him my commitment, as John McCain’s running mate, that we will be committed to Georgia. And we’ve got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable and we have to keep…
GIBSON: You believe unprovoked.
PALIN: I do believe unprovoked and we have got to keep our eyes on Russia, under the leadership there. I think it was unfortunate. That manifestation that we saw with that invasion of Georgia shows us some steps backwards that Russia has recently taken away from the race toward a more democratic nation with democratic ideals. That’s why we have to keep an eye on Russia.
And, Charlie, you’re in Alaska. We have that very narrow maritime border between the United States, and the 49th state, Alaska, and Russia. They are our next door neighbors.We need to have a good relationship with them. They’re very, very important to us and they are our next door neighbor.
GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?
PALIN: They’re our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.
GIBSON: What insight does that give you into what they’re doing in Georgia?
PALIN: Well, I’m giving you that perspective of how small our world is and how important it is that we work with our allies to keep good relation with all of these countries, especially Russia. We will not repeat a Cold War. We must have good relationship with our allies, pressuring, also, helping us to remind Russia that it’s in their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be getting along.
We also see from Palin’s following remark, which was also edited out, that she is far from some sort of latter day Cold Warrior which the edited interview made her seem to be:
We cannot repeat the Cold War. We are thankful that, under Reagan, we won the Cold War, without a shot fired, also. We’ve learned lessons from that in our relationship with Russia, previously the Soviet Union.
We will not repeat a Cold War. We must have good relationship with our allies, pressuring, also, helping us to remind Russia that it’s in their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be getting along.
Palin’s extended remarks about defending our NATO allies were edited out to make it seem that she was ready to go to war with Russia.
GIBSON: And under the NATO treaty, wouldn’t we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?
PALIN: Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you’re going to be expected to be called upon and help.
But NATO, I think, should include Ukraine, definitely, at this point and I think that we need to — especially with new leadership coming in on January 20, being sworn on, on either ticket, we have got to make sure that we strengthen our allies, our ties with each one of those NATO members.
We have got to make sure that that is the group that can be counted upon to defend one another in a very dangerous world today.
GIBSON: And you think it would be worth it to the United States, Georgia is worth it to the United States to go to war if Russia were to invade.
PALIN: What I think is that smaller democratic countries that are invaded by a larger power is something for us to be vigilant against. We have got to be cognizant of what the consequences are if a larger power is able to take over smaller democratic countries.
And we have got to be vigilant. We have got to show the support, in this case, for Georgia. The support that we can show is economic sanctions perhaps against Russia, if this is what it leads to.
It doesn’t have to lead to war and it doesn’t have to lead, as I said, to a Cold War, but economic sanctions, diplomatic pressure, again, counting on our allies to help us do that in this mission of keeping our eye on Russia and Putin and some of his desire to control and to control much more than smaller democratic countries.
His mission, if it is to control energy supplies, also, coming from and through Russia, that’s a dangerous position for our world to be in, if we were to allow that to happen.
That answer presented Palin as a bit too knowledgeable for the purposes of ABC News and was, of course, edited out. Palin’s answers about a nuclear Iran were carefully edited to the point where she was even edited out in mid-sentence to make it seem that Palin favored unilateral action against that country:
GIBSON: Let me turn to Iran. Do you consider a nuclear Iran to be an existential threat to Israel?
PALIN: I believe that under the leadership of Ahmadinejad, nuclear weapons in the hands of his government are extremely dangerous to everyone on this globe, yes.
GIBSON: So what should we do about a nuclear Iran? John McCain said the only thing worse than a war with Iran would be a nuclear Iran. John Abizaid said we may have to live with a nuclear Iran. Who’s right?
PALIN: No, no. I agree with John McCain that nuclear weapons in the hands of those who would seek to destroy our allies, in this case, we’re talking about Israel, we’re talking about Ahmadinejad’s comment about Israel being the “stinking corpse, should be wiped off the face of the earth,” that’s atrocious. That’s unacceptable.
GIBSON: So what do you do about a nuclear Iran?
PALIN: We have got to make sure that these weapons of mass destruction, that nuclear weapons are not given to those hands of Ahmadinejad, not that he would use them, but that he would allow terrorists to be able to use them. So we have got to put the pressure on Iran and we have got to count on our allies to help us, diplomatic pressure.
GIBSON: But, Governor, we’ve threatened greater sanctions against Iran for a long time. It hasn’t done any good. It hasn’t stemmed their nuclear program.
PALIN: We need to pursue those and we need to implement those. We cannot back off. We cannot just concede that, oh, gee, maybe they’re going to have nuclear weapons, what can we do about it. No way, not Americans. We do not have to stand for that.
Laughably, a remark by Gibson that indicated he agreed with Palin was edited out:
PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln’s words when he said — first, he suggested never presume to know what God’s will is, and I would never presume to know God’s will or to speak God’s words.
But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that’s a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God’s side.
That’s what that comment was all about, Charlie. And I do believe, though, that this war against extreme Islamic terrorists is the right thing. It’s an unfortunate thing, because war is hell and I hate war, and, Charlie, today is the day that I send my first born, my son, my teenage son overseas with his Stryker brigade, 4,000 other wonderful American men and women, to fight for our country, for democracy, for our freedoms.
Charlie, those are freedoms that too many of us just take for granted. I hate war and I want to see war ended. We end war when we see victory, and we do see victory in sight in Iraq.
GIBSON: I take your point about Lincoln’s words, but you went on and said, “There is a plan and it is God’s plan.”
Gibson took her point about Lincoln’s words but we wouldn’t know that by watching the interview since it was left on the cutting room floor. I urge everybody to see just how the unedited version of the first interview compared to what we saw on television by checking out the full transcript. It is a fascinating look into media manipulation via skillful editing.
September 14, 2008
She just can’t admit that she’s not being honest…
Actually, Congress put the kibosh on the Bridge to Nowhere back in November 2005. Since Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) was then head of the Senate Appropriations Committee he was able to force a compromise in which the earmark for the bridge was killed but Alaska got to hold on to the money — some $442 million of federal tax dollars.
Fast forward to November 2006. That’s when Sarah Palin was running as a staunch supporter of the Bridge to Nowhere — that is, after the feds had themselves already said ‘No Thanks.’
In 2006, the Democrats took over both houses of Congress. So by the time Palin got into office it was clear that not only was the first Bridge earmark killed but that Congress was not going to be ponying up any more money. That meant that Alaska was going to have to pick up the tab all on its own. So since she couldn’t pay for it with the federal pork barrel, in September 2007, Palin officially halted the project which was then a state project since Congress had said ‘Thanks. But no thanks’ two years earlier.
She couldn’t say ‘No Thanks’ because Congress had already said ‘Forget It’.
Listen, I have absolutely NO problem that Palin wanted the bridge. For me, pork is a necessary evil and if those folks thought they needed a bridge, then that’s their business. In fact, it’s common knowledge know that they still took the money to put towards their infrastructure needs.
However, I have a HUGE problem that she has been consistently misrepresenting herself as some sort of tireless, earmark-killing gladiator. Especially when her state was #1 in earmarks per capita.
And, by the way, she has been lying A LOT about this…
Do note that last line, “If our state wanted a bridge, we were going to build it ourselves.”
Folks, even after the project had been killed she still wanted the American taxpayers to build it. That’s a fact. There’s no getting around that.
Thanks, but no thanks for that explanation Sarah.
September 14, 2008
Republican vice presidential pick Sarah Palin, in her third interview with ABC News, said she vehemently opposes wasteful federal spending and defended her decision to nix the infamous “bridge to nowhere” even though she once championed the project.
She also defended her request for $198 million in federal funding for special projections within her state.
As governor of Alaska, Palin said she never backed the $398 million bridge but said instead she was interested in improving the state’s infrastructure.
“I was for infrastructure being built in the state. And it’s not inappropriate for a mayor or for a governor to request and to work…with their congressmen, their congresswomen, to plug into the federal budget along with every other state a share of the federal budget for infrastructure,” she told ABC News.
Her presumptive boss, GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, has built a solid reputation in Washington, D.C. as an opponent of wasteful government spending.
For her part, Palin asked for about $198 million for 31 state projects for fiscal year 2009, according to a letter and supporting documents she sent to Alaska’s congressional delegation.
That’s down from 52 requests valued at $256 million in 2007.
She said, however, that her requests amount to about $231 per capita compared with earmarks of roughly $22 per person in Illinois, where Democratic presidential rival Sen. Barack Obama is from.
September 14, 2008
In a brief 15-minute speech before a raucous Carson City crowd of about 5,000, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin promised on Saturday to “shake things up” in Washington, D.C. if she and U.S. Sen. John McCain are elected in November.
In remarks laden with the campaign themes of McCain’s military service and promises of reform, Palin trumpeted her record as a small-town mayor and first-term governor in Alaska and vowed to take her track record to Washington D.C.
“I reminded people there that government is not always the answer,” she said. “In fact, too often, government is the problem.”
Despite the increasingly caustic barbs traded by McCain and his Democratic rival U.S. Sen. Barack Obama on the campaign trail this week, Palin did not use her first solo stump speech to go on the attack, largely in deference to those suffering from Hurricane Ike.
Instead, she continued to introduce herself to voters, repeating many of the same lines from her widely-acclaimed acceptance speech.
“As mayor and governor, I did try to lead by example,” Palin said. “I took a voluntary pay cut, which didn’t thrill my husband. I cut the personal chef from the budget, that didn’t thrill my hungry kids. And I put the state’s check book online for everyone to see and that didn’t thrill bureaucrats.”
In the face of growing criticism, Palin refused to drop a line from her stump speech that brags about her canceling the nation’s most infamous example of runaway earmark spending, the “Bridge to Nowhere.”
“I told Congress thanks but no thanks on the bridge to nowhere, that if our state wanted to build that bridge, we would build it ourselves,” Palin told the crowd.
According to the non-partisan PolitiFact.com, Palin campaigned for governor on a platform that supported building the bridge between two small communities in Alaska.
She only canceled the project after Congress stopped the funding in the wake of the project becoming a national symbol of wasteful spending.
The Obama campaign disputed that McCain and Palin would “shake things up” in Washington D.C.
“All they really stand for is more of the same,” Obama’s Nevada spokesman Jeff Giertz said. “On issues of importance to Nevadans, especially issues important to Nevada women, like equal pay and the right to choose, they are going to continue to sell the policies of the previous administration.
“Barack Obama is going to Washington to stand up and bring the change we need.”
Palin’s first campaign swing through Nevada was brief. She arrived at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport about 4:30 p.m., traveled directly to Carson City, spoke for about 15 minutes and then worked the rope line for another half an hour.
She then flew to Denver.
Excitement for GOP in Carson
At the event, Republican voters, beleaguered by the early momentum of the Obama campaign as well as widespread discontent with the GOP brand, repeatedly described Palin as a “breath of fresh air.”
“She’s just what we needed,” said Jan McMahon, who drove from Reno to see Palin’s speech. “She shows we’re not just doing the same old thing.”
“I knew it was going to be a close campaign, but I’m more optimistic now. We’ve got our second wind.”
Lynn Sheeketski, of Carson City, described herself as a reluctant McCain supporter until Palin joined the ticket.
“Having her on the ticket brings back good values — taking responsibility for her actions. She’s not afraid to mention God,” Sheeketski said.
Palin’s visit, followed by a planned visit by Obama to Elko on Wednesday, is an indication of the attention both campaigns are putting on the rural areas of the state, which were largely overlooked in 2004.
“George Bush won our state because of rural Nevada twice,” U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said to the crowd. “If you want John McCain and Sarah Palin to be in the White House come January, it is going to be up to rural Nevada to turn out in numbers like we’ve never seen before.”
Palin acknowledged U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Carson City, who is facing a contested reelection campaign against Democrat Jill Derby.
To crowd chants of “Drill, baby, drill,” Palin promised Alaska and Nevada would be on the forefront of helping the country achieve energy independence.
“He knows what needs to be done,” she said.
September 14, 2008
Source: AZ Central
Pretty soon the media are going to get over the obsession with Sarah Palin and people will remember that it is John McCain who got nominated by the Republicans.
But, for Barack Obama, will pretty soon be soon enough? California voters will start receiving mail-in ballots in about three weeks. In Arizona, early voting starts in 18 days.
Is that going to be long enough for Obama’s unhelpful “advocates” in the media to get over their snit about Palin?
Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz wrote last week about the media “getting mad” at the McCain campaign. The Republicans have been turning a great many traditionally Democratic themes on their heads – sexism, elitism and feminism, among others – and liberal commentators are not taking kindly to it. There is nothing quite so oppressive as having your own sense of oppression being turned against you.
The problem for Obama is that so many of the columnists, essayists and Hollywood stars and starlets who are logging complaints about Palin aren’t really doing so in defense of the Democratic nominee. They’re writing from a point of view of pure venom-dripping hostility to the woman. As Kurtz said, they are mad. And when people are mad, they can be obnoxious. And irrational.
And I cannot imagine it is helpful to their guy.
I’ve heard it argued that McCain’s selection of Palin constituted a re-engagement of the culture wars because of the threat Palin poses to traditional feminists, who have labored for generations melding female empowerment with a liberal political agenda. All the same, you see. Palin does indeed threaten that, what with the felled moose, the bear rugs on the wall, the five kids, the religious fealty and the political trajectory that would be stunning even if it stopped at Alaskan governor.
In seemingly countless critiques, there is a certain “how dare you” attitude oozing out of the commentary on Palin.
Author Katha Pollitt has it coming out of her pores. A regular at the liberal magazine Nation, Pollitt seems to sense that, at those moments when the U.S. is galvanized on some crucially important issue, it is her job to write something that will make about half of America bite its lip in fury.
She did it less than two weeks after 9/11/2001 when she discovered – to her absolute horror – that her daughter wanted to hang an American flag from her window.
“Definitely not, I say: The flag stands for jingoism and vengeance and war.”
Katha Pollitt’s criticism
It’s good to know that, seven years later, Pollitt has not lost that bracing sense of unity that (as other liberals so love to remind us) enveloped all Americans in those difficult days. She is every bit as supportive of Palin – a member of the sisterhood who just got offered a big job promotion – as she was of flag-waving fellow Yanks back in ’01.
“I don’t want her recipe for caribou hot dogs, either,” wrote Pollitt in a sarcastic op-ed in the Nation. “Life chez Sarah and Todd might make an adorable sitcom (Leave It to Jesus?) or a scathing tell-all a decade or so down the road (Governor Dearest?). Either way, so what?”
Is this woman threatened, or what? If Palin as GOP vice-presidential candidate did not frighten Pollitt to her kneecaps, you could rest assured she would have done what all people of Pollitt’s cultural station do when provincials like Palin arrive on the scene: pretend they don’t exist.
Instead, she raves on for 1,000 words or so about how she refuses to be drawn into the “Palin as New Feminist” debate and then draws up eight or nine snarky and condescending questions for TV interviewers to throw at the Alaskan rube.
That sort of writing helps Obama in Pennsylvania and Ohio exactly . . . how?
Speaking of “provincials . . . ”
Just the use of the word “provincial” in reference to another person is an enlightenment. Few words say “not our kind, dear” quite like calling someone a “provincial.”
That’s what makes a recent op-ed by film reviewer Roger Ebert so deliciously special. Ebert looks down his nose at this “provincial” – yes, he does in fact use the word – from Alaska because . . .
She never went to Europe!
“You don’t need to be a pointy-headed elitist to travel abroad,” wrote Ebert, who, in his defense, has not been well of late.
Roger Ebert’s criticism
“You need curiosity and a hunger to see the world. What kind of a person (who has the money) arrives at the age of 44 and has only been out of the country once, on an official tour to Iraq? Sarah Palin’s travel record is that of a provincial, not someone who is equipped to deal with global issues.”
Where does one go with this? So, does a daddy-paid summer gig in Earl’s Court render one fit for the second-highest public office? Or is it essential that the kids pay their own way on their enlightenment tour of the continent? If so, does Bill Clinton make the grade? He was on scholarship to Oxford, after all.
I know a great many bright people who have never traveled to Europe. And many of them have a good reason for it: They had kids! Sorta like . . . Sarah and Todd Palin, those provincials with a great deal of curiosity about raising them.
Damon and Longoria, too
This is just the tip of an iceberg cut in the shape of a long, patrician nose. Matt Damon has been mocking Palin. Eva Longoria Parker, sex kitten of Desperate Housewives, gave her a good haughty diss on Friday.
I can’t help imagining that those folk desperately clinging to their guns and their God out in western Pennsylvania are going to start putting two and two together on this one.