Sunday, August 31, 2008

So how long will Sarah Palin be McCain's running mate?

I think the thing that most surprises me about McCain's choice for V.P. is not her inexperience, or the transparent ploy of picking a woman on the presumption that other women only vote on the basis of who has ovaries, or her very right-wing politics (that's not surprising at all, that's his attempt to get the right-wing evangelical voters on his side) - but the fact that there is a scandal brewing about her in Alaska. I was under the impression that the campaigns did their best to carefully vet V.P. candidates so that they don't have any surprises about the person before Election Day. Anyone remember Thomas Eagleton? At least no one knew about his problems before he was nominated. Palin's ethics problems are being covered by TPM Muckraker in this very interesting story:

The scandal began on July 11, when Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan was removed from his post with little explanation, a move whose abruptness quickly raised questions in Alaska. A few days later, Monegan decided to blow the whistle, and came forward to tell local media that he had been dismissed because he refused to fire trooper Mike Wooten, the ex-husband of Palin's sister, after having been pressured to do so by aides to Palin. (Monegan's replacement, former Kenai Chief of Police Chuck Kopp was only lasted two weeks on the job once past complaints of sexual harassment from 2005 were publicized.)

Critics pointed out that the effort to fire the trooper might have been directly related to the fact that Palin's family had a longstanding grievances with Wooten. In an internal state police investigation in 2005, Palin herself had accused Wooten of threatening to harm her father during the breakup of her sister's marriage. (The Palins claimed, among other things, that Wooten had used a taser on his 10-year-old stepson, and shot a moose without a permit.)

Since Monegan made his allegations, Palin has denied that she personally had a role in the effort to fire Wooten. On July 28, the state legislative council, a bipartisan panel of senators and representatives, appointed a special commission to probe the matter.

Her backtrack on her office's role was prompted by the preliminary findings of a separate ongoing investigation into the matter by the state Attorney General, launched on August 4, that she herself put into motion. At a press conference at which Palin revealed some of that investigation's finding, she acknowledged that in February, state troopers had taped a phone call from Frank Bailey, Palin's director of boards and commissions, whom she appointed in August 2007, in which Bailey appeared to push for the firing of Wooten on Palin's behalf.

In the call, Bailey appeared to say that Palin and her husband were frustrated that Wooten still had his job. "The Palins can't figure out why nothing's going on," Bailey said in the recorded phone call. "Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads ... 'Why is this guy representing the department, he's a horrible recruiting tool.' You know? So from their perspective everybody's protecting him."

The investigation could be particularly poorly timed for the GOP. Steve Branchflower, a former state prosecutor who is conducting the investigation, has a three-month contract for his work, which started August 1, and will end October 31, according to Alaska State Senate Judiciary Committee chair, Hollis French (D), who is overseeing the probe. French told TPMmuckraker that he expects Branchflower to release his report in the days before the November 4th presidential election.

A spokeswoman for Palin told TPMmuckraker that the governor's office would be fully cooperating with Branchflower.

Palin won the governor's office in 2006 as a squeaky clean reformer. "She portrayed herself as an open-government, ethical person," Rep. Mike Doogan, a Democratic state lawmaker, told TPMmuckraker. "You can see the obvious problem." He added: "These things don't help her [politically]."

And they may not help John McCain either.

(ed.note: The original version of this post incorrectly stated that the state legislature was in Democratic hands and ordered the probe of Monegan's firing. In fact, the senate is under the control of a coalition of Democratic and dissident Republican lawmakers and the House of Republicans. The state legislative council, which ordered the probe, is a bipartisan panel made up of members of both bodies.)

And this woman might be next in line to the presidency?!


  1. A Few Thoughts on Sarah Palin's Noble Choices and Aspirations.
    As much as I may resent what I see as some of the most exploitive politics in recent times, I can't help thinking and talking about McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. It's true that I am playing right into GOP hands by helping wipe the slate clean after this week's Democratic convention. But this is a fascinating scenario that I'm still trying to get my head around. This is Machiavellian strategy at its finest. Imagine making a decision of this magnitude, and doing it completely out of expediency. It's purely reactionary thinking on the part of the McCain campaign. Do you have any doubt that things would have gone down differently had Obama picked Hillary Clinton as his partner? I don't. Not at all.

    Listening to the right wing pundits on talk radio, you'd think that this was sheer brilliance. The Christian branch of the GOP has been stroked. This woman is so "pro-life" that she had a kid that she knew was afflicted with Down's Syndrome. How wise and compassionate she must be to accept this "gift from God". She's accepted this beautiful presence in her life in such a self-sacrificing manner. It should be pointed out that anyone who makes the choice not to abort a fetus with such a severe disability is making a commitment to give of themselves in a way a parent of normally-functioning children can not ever truly understand. The amount of time and energy that the mother must invest are extraordinary*.

    This Sarah Palin must truly be a noble soul, right? She's going to prioritize the sanctity of life. She's going to live up to her reputation as a crusader for "family values". She must be absolutely inexhaustible. As governor of a state of such crucial importance to the rest of the nation, she must call upon her extensive education and experience to look out for the interests of all US citizens, and not just the tens of thousands who elected her to office. And that's not all. Now she's agreed to take on a bigger role of service to our country. She's willing to accept the nomination to be our Vice President. Why is that? Well, as of the beginning of this month she didn't even know. In her own words "I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day?"

    Well, in her case (should McCain win in November) she has to be prepared at any time to assume the duties of the presidency. If you're not aware of the state of John McCain's health, suffice it to say that the 72-year-old's prognosis is not especially favorable. So Palin really ought to be boning up on her prospective duties in the number 1 spot as well, because she is not what anyone could call especially well-informed when it comes to federal government (in fact she's never served in it). At the very least, she should spend some time studying Iraq. In an interview with Alaska Business Monthly in 2007, she was asked about the troop "surge" and she replied, "I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq."

    Of course that's a bit odd considering her oldest son is due for deployment to the Middle Eastern theater on September 11th of this year. But we've got to cut her some slack. She has a lot on her plate. I'm sure the investigation into her possibly unlawful dismissal of Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan is eating into her moose-hunting time. The results of that inquiry will be released on October 30th. Furthermore, she's going to be on the campaign trail for the next 60 odd days. In order for her to unleash her "Sarah Barracuda" persona on Joe Biden, she's going to have to receive a basic introduction to national policy and government, which should sufficiently complement her prestigious bachelor of arts degree in journalism from the University of Idaho.

    And finally, the duties of motherhood never end. This will be a crucial time in the early development of her four-month-old disabled infant. And she's got four other kids to nurture. Hopefully she can carry over some of the burnished luster from her "Miss Congeniality" days that allowed her to finish second in the Alaska Beauty Pageant. Maybe she can take few a sips from John McCain's energy drink.

    * Especially for a woman with four children who decides to have another at age 43, knowing that the risks of an abnormal pregnancy are dramatically heightened.

  2. If I knew a cop used a taser on a 10 year old or threatened retaliatory violence on family members over a breakup, I'd be trying to get them fired, too. Perhaps those stories are entirely untrue, but that's what I imagine McCain's camp would have checked.

  3. I can understand, if the stories are true, why they'd want to get him fired - but using the power of the governor's office in a personal dispute is entirely illegitimate.

  4. I'm not so sure. If they're being honest about what the guy did, trying -and vigorously- to get rid of him is the right thing to do. Does the right thing to do become the wrong thing to do because of her position? It seems to me it's entirely appropriate to the role of governor to ensure a quality police force. While it is a personal dispute, because the guy is a police officer, it's also a matter of public concern.

    This bit about having exhausted formal channels is interesting, though on a political level I don't think it will move many people. It's still a nation where conceptions of individual liberty trump rules. (cf Death Wish and Dirty Harry movies.) It might be interesting to note this is a very unJewish notion of morality, but it's a pretty common one in the US.

    Not that any of this is relevant to my vote. McCain and whatever VP he chose never had a shot at it, but anyone who would name their kids Track and Trig loses my vote. And Track is named after the sport.

  5. It's also a conflict of interest. If Palin's official duty is to do what is best for the state of Alaska, then her personal conflicts with an employee of the state (especially those beginning before she became governor, and having nothing to do with her official duties) should not come into play. At the very least, she should have asked someone else to assess whether Monegan should remain in his job, since her judgment was impaired by her personal interest. (Judges recuse themselves from cases in which they have a personal interest - or at least they should!)

  6. .
    This is going to be fun. History will be made, one way or another, and it looks more likely now that it will be the right history.

    Even more Hillary supporters will go for McCain now. Obama is no longer a near certainty. Heaven forbid something happens to McCain, but I believe Palin would rise to the occasion. She has the right attitude. Everyone knows Obama is NOT ready for POTUS, Palin is only for the VP. Look at Dan Quayle.

    YEY SARAH PALIN! YEY John McCain! Great pick! The 1st woman for the GOP VP? SCORE!

    She's conservative! SCORE! She's a Governor! SCORE! She's pro-drilling! She's a hunter! SCORE! She's a hockey Mom and played basketball in school! SCORE! She's pro-life! And she respects women! SCORE! She fights corruption! SCORE! She's high-energy! SCORE! She's tough! SCORE! She's got 5 kids! SCORE! Her son is going to Iraq in the Armed Forces! SCORE! She's married to a Blue-collar professional! SCORE! She's smart! SCORE! She's young! SCORE!

    And she's a Hotty to boot! SCORE! The Left is going to go nuts! SCORE!
    absurd thought -
    God of the Universe says
    never elect a woman

    who's a conservative
    she's just a gender traitor

    absurd thought -
    God of the Universe says
    just HOPE to pay more taxes

    DREAM about high fuel prices
    CHANGE PROGRESS to move backwards

    All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech, there can be no real freedom.
    Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
    Help Halt Terrorism Today!


  7. uspace,

    "Even more Hillary supporters will go for McCain now."

    Why do you make this unsupported claim? Is it because you have some secret information that leads you to believe that McCain will be influenced by Palin to adopt Clinton's political agenda? Or is it because you think women are stupid? Explain yourself.

    Let's give this a try in your language...

    "YEY SARAH PALIN! YEY John McCain! Great pick!"

    She's being investigated for abuse of power by a bipartisan coalition of Alaskan legislators! SCORE! That same investigation has already exposed her as a liar! SCORE! She wasn't even vetted properly before offered the VP job! SCORE! She doesn't know McCain, and vice versa! SCORE! She supported the Gravina Bridge project until the national media exposed it as a waste! SCORE! She pocketed the federal funds she received for construction that never happened! SCORE! Her own mother-in-law is doubtful that she's going to vote for her ticket! SCORE! She's using a four-month-old infant with Down's Syndrome as a political symbol! SCORE! She risked her infant son's life to give a political speech in Texas! SCORE! As of 2007, she admitted that she hadn't given any thought to the War in Iraq! SCORE! As of this past July she had no idea what the VP job entailed! SCORE! She doesn't consider polar bears a threatened species because that would interfere with Alaskan oil drilling! SCORE! She doesn't believe that man has contributed to global warming because she is a shill for "Big Oil"! SCORE! She is undereducated and incapable of assuming the presidency if McCain dies in office! SCORE!