On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

A Warning

I don’t owe the Democratic Party anything, and I’m particularly unhappy with the Obama people for disinfranchising me, but I will do them a favor: don’t underestimate Sarah Palin or your head will get mounted like the moose she hunts.

The misogyny of Obama supporters angered a lot of people during the primary, but this is a general and Sarah Palin has no need to be as forgiving as Hillary Clinton.

I noticed that a number of people have picked up the “troopergate” theme promoted by the corruption wing of the Alaskan Republican Party.  Nothing like repeating Rovian-style talking points.  Maybe you should learn something about the controversy before you talk about it.

As for experience, her experience as a mayor and governor is executive experience, something none of the Senators have.  She is the commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard.

You can’t get much further away from Washington than Alaska, and, as many of the prosecutions of public officials were started by her filing ethics complaints against them, she doesn’t have that to worry about.

Why don’t you find out who Sarah Palin is, and what she’s done, so you actually know something about “the enemy”.  The stereotyping going on is more than a little disgusting, as well as dishonest and stupid.  This is one of the reasons why the Democrats keep losing elections they should win.


1 Michael { 08.29.08 at 3:38 pm }

She’s been governor for less than two years. She’s under investigation for what seems tantamount to witness tampering or intimidation. She’s an ultra-conservative. She’s anti-choice. She’s pro-creationism. This is going to make her look good to women how? Even the Republicans think this was a terrible choice on McSame’s part.

2 Bryan { 08.29.08 at 4:25 pm }

Thank you for your repetition of the corruption Alaskan Republican talking points on the investigation you obviously know nothing about.

Well, McCain probably won’t be so bad.

3 Michael { 08.29.08 at 7:27 pm }

WTF? The Alaska legislature just last month authorized $100,000 for an independent investigator to look into Sarah Palin’s firing of the state’s public safety commissioner. Specifically, the investigator is supposed to “…explore whether Palin, her family or members of her administration pressured Monegan to fire an Alaska state trooper involved in a rough divorce from Palin’s sister.” This is a Republican talking point how?

And as for her executive experience, you might want to ask the good people of Wasilla exactly how they feel about that, after she bungled a land deal to build a sports complex for a village of a couple of thousand people. I’m sure they’re particularly thrilled at having to see essential services cut back to pay for legal bills they would never have incurred had Sarah Palin actually known what the hell she was doing.

4 Mahakal { 08.29.08 at 9:31 pm }

The chance of McCain/Palin winning an honest election seems close to zero.

5 Bryan { 08.29.08 at 9:51 pm }

Michael, you want to know about the “ethics” investigation, read about it. She was so nasty using her lawful authority in a lawful manner to remove someone who didn’t agree with her policy changes. Who could possibly have doubts about the head of a police agency, who not only didn’t think that a felony violation of wildlife laws and tasering your step-children was worthy of removal, but in fact halved the 10 day suspension that was suggested by the board of investigation.

As for the Wasilla land deal, you didn’t read that article with any comprehension did you? You don’t know anything about town governments do you? She was the mayor, not the town attorney. A citizens group proposed the sports complex. The people voted to increase their own taxes to pay for it. This was something that the people of Wasilla wanted.

The bottom line is that the town bought the land from the Alaskan chapter of the Nature Conservancy, while the developer was cutting a deal with the national office. That’s a problem for the town’s attorney or the Nature Conservancy, not the mayor who was finishing up her final term.

But, hey, don’t bother to do any research, just keep repeating the talking point of the Republican good ol’ boys who hate her guts.

There are a lot of things that a progressive should dislike about Sarah Palin’s political views, but people are only going to remember that Democrats attacked with a lot of bullshit charges that proved to be bogus.

6 John B. { 08.29.08 at 10:04 pm }

I appreciate Bryan’s warning and take it in the spirit I believe it was offered: as a friendly warning not unlike the same advice Hubert Humphrey and Ed Muskie could have used in 1968 when they first heard the words Spiro Agnew: don’t assume just because she’s a simpleton and a schlub that she can’t beat you.

Especially since television has come to dominate our national discourse, and elections, no one has gone broke betting on the poor judgment and ignorance of the American public.

Everything publicly known about Palin points to the conclusion that she’s no more qualified to be vice president than your own local PTA membership committee chair. But that doesn’t mean she can’t win, so long as she has the help of a ratings-hungry MSM eager to discover and inflate the next narrative story American Idol contest .

7 The CultureGhost { 08.29.08 at 10:25 pm }

I appreciate Bryon’s warning-he doesn’t issue them lightly. This could be a coup of epic proportions or a folly of epic proportions…the Republicans are shrewd when it comes to taking and keeping power. This is a gamble, but a provocative one.

8 Bryan { 08.29.08 at 10:41 pm }

She has a degree in journalism and was a local sportscaster. She beat an incumbent governor in a party primary and then won election against a former Democratic governor with no backing from her party.

Her husband’s grandmother was a Yu’pik Native Alaskan. He is a union member. He quit his oil field job with BP when she was elected governor to avoid any conflict of interest problems. He is a champion snowmobile racer and youth sports coach. He is a commercial salmon fisherman during the season, and she has worked on the boat with him.

They were high school sweethearts who eloped to save their families the cost of a wedding. Their youngest child has Down’s syndrome.

If you are going to attack her, you had damn well better have your facts straight and make them related to the position she is being nominated for, or people are going to look at you as someone who kicks puppies and drowns kittens.

If you screw up early on, it won’t make a bit of difference later if you do uncover something substantial.

Selecting her as a running mate is a decision that requires the genius that everyone claimed Karl Rove had. She is an unexploded bomb that needs to be handled very carefully. The Vice Presidential debate could be a Democratic disaster.

BTW, to all of the people who keep harping on “she a governor what does she know about national defense and foreign policy?” What is your response to “FDR, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton were just governors.”

9 Jack K., the Grumpy Forester { 08.29.08 at 10:49 pm }

…while I stand accused of having mentioned the supposed “Troopergate” scandal myself, the fact remains that she is – regardless of her experience or political leanings – a very compelling story and an exceptionally popular governor. Despite all the things you cite, Michael, she has a reputation for seeking ethical reform in the Republican party and has made plenty of enemies within her party, and her own “maverick” image is actually enhanced by efforts by the Republican-dominated Alaska legislature to launch an ethics investigation against her because that investigation has a strong “Sarah Against The Machine” vibe to it…

I actually know a lot about “Troopergate” because we hear about such things up here in the upper left corner of the continental map and because I have written about Alaskan Republican corruption issues in the past. Palin is a talented and tenacious politician; after all, she beat incumbent Governor Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary in 2006 despite the same charges of ‘inexperience’ that we have already heard today, and Murkowski was as powerful and important a Republican in Alaska as either Ted Stevens or Don Young. I have my own questions about what she brings to the McCain campaign, based mostly on her political positions compared against her statements today about breaking through all those 18 million cracks that Hillary made in that last Glass Ceiling (given that none of those 18 million were looking for a Vice Presidency as the final measure of breaking through that Glass Ceiling, probably very few of them were looking for a surrogate, and probably only a meaningless handful of that particular cohort would ever see Sarah Palin as the most likely surrogate in any case). She will, however, probably be a more formidable debate opponent that some people (including me, this morning) expect, despite her apparent lack of experience. She beat both Murkowski and Tony Knowles to get where she is; we’re not talking about Dan Quayle here…

Troopergate may matter eventually and create an ugly “Eagleton Moment” for McCain late in the campaign, but it may not and ignoring her as some sort of lightweight would be a dangerous strategy for the Democrats. I choose to believe that McCain and his people aren’t dumb, so I suspect that they will be heavily schooling her in the why’s and wherefor’s of foreign affairs before her upcoming debate against Joe Biden…

update: I see that the whole world has covered all of my points, so never mind…

10 Bryan { 08.29.08 at 11:07 pm }

Jack, this is your area of the country, and I’m getting my stuff from people I know who were Democrats when they got out of the Air Force and stayed up there to homestead around Fairbanks many years ago.

I got a feeling from them that she is a really different kind of politician, and a little research seems to confirm what they told me, but you are more directly connected.

I’m trying to convince people to stop with the cheap shots, because I would have thought that the party insiders would have had a hissy fit about bringing her on to the national stage. She is not a team player and you can’t survive in Alaska if you don’t have inner strength. The McCain campaign has made a very unusual choice, and there must be a reason.

11 ellroon { 08.29.08 at 11:13 pm }

/hangs head… shuffles feet…

But .. I like to take cheap shots…

12 Steve Bates { 08.29.08 at 11:30 pm }

For the record, my post addressed complaints that stand completely independent of “troopergate” (though I did mention it once in the comment thread, and have since bracketed it and pointed a link from that thread to your post here).

There are legitimate complaints about Palin’s environmental record, complaints which IMHO render her unsuitable for federal office of any sort. Those complaints are not “cheap shots.” And as a former executive committee member in the local group of a major environmentalist org, and having acquired the knowledge base associated with that position, I believe I have standing to make those complaints.

There is also room for disagreement on the choice of Palin as a matter of McCain’s political strategy, and I made such disagreement. That, too, has nothing to do with “troopergate.”

I’ll cede the point about whether Palin can successfully debate Joe Biden, but I still don’t see where shooting moose says anything about political courage or skill. Maybe one has to have lived there to understand that.

13 LadyMin { 08.30.08 at 12:30 am }

Hmmmmm. Yes. Don’t underestimate Palin’s chances of pulling in votes.

When I first heard McCain’s choice I thought WTF? This is the best woman candidate he could come up with? It just didn’t sit right. As a former Hillary supporter, this was not a woman candidate that I would transfer my support to. Their positions are too opposite.

Later I heard her speak … on a news clip. And she referred to her qualifications as “a hockey mom”. Then it hit me. They want regular folk to identify with her, like her and vote for her because she’s like them. I’m not the target market here. There are a lot less people like me and lot more sports moms out there.

People don’t always vote on the issues, that’s pretty obvious from the last election. They for with the person they can identify with and that they like.

This is going to get very interesting.

14 Bryan { 08.30.08 at 12:41 am }

I apologize for being so angry at your place, Steve, but I had been going through one blog after another with people being either blatantly misogynist or carrying on about troopergate, while having never bothered to read anything about the issue.

Concerning the environment, let me put it this way: how many Democratic candidates went to Iowa last year and complained about the disaster that corn-based ethanol poses for both the environment and food prices?

Alaskans live closer to the environment than people almost anywhere else, and they can be the most environmentally sensitive people on the planet, but you had better be damn careful about how you approach the subject. In most of the West and Alaska there is a lot of Federal land, and there are a lot of decisions being made in Washington, DC that show little or know regard for the local people. If you start telling people in the West and Alaska that you know what is good for them and their state, and you don’t live there, they will fight you tooth and nail. It would be as impossible for a hardcore environmentalist to get elected to a statewide office in Alaska, as someone who opposes ethanol to win the Iowa caucuses.

Jack of the Grumpy Forester can go into more detail, as can John McKay, but environmentalist is a dirty word in much of the West. There are ways to overcome the problems, but you have to understand the local people and get them on board first, before you start making announcements about “what must be done.”

If you read some of the so-called progressive blogs and their characterizations of Ms Palin, you will understand. “Barbie” is one of the higher-class comments. After my read through this morning I was so pissed off. I did not spend decades working for equal rights for everyone to read this crap from people who supposedly support the concept. Sarah Palin isn’t “Barbie”. She received a scholarship to college from competing in the Miss Alaska pageant, and then she returned after college to hunt moose and work on a commercial fishing boat with her husband. Her Dad was a teacher, and the pageant was the best road for her to get to college. She isn’t the weak retiring creature that all of these “Democrats” seem to believe, and if they really annoy her, she knows how to “dress” her kills.

Politics is a form of warfare, and the easiest way to lose a war is by underestimating the enemy.

I would also point out that just as McCain has overused “POW” and made it meaningless, Obama supporters are overusing “Roe”, and it is losing its meaning.

Ellroon, you are a better person than that, and should do some real research for substantive reasons to oppose Palin.

15 Bryan { 08.30.08 at 12:51 am }

Lady Min, her husband is about as “Joe Six-Pack” as they come. They should be Democrats, but they live in Alaska. They are “working class” and people will identify with them.

This looked like a terrible idea at the start, but it is a major headache for a Democratic campaign. They got blind-sided.

16 hipparchia { 08.30.08 at 2:52 am }

everything troopergate, and no, i haven’t yet read through it all.

no, she’s not a progressive, including not being too keen on gay rights apparently, but that didn’t keep her from upholding the law.

17 John B. { 08.30.08 at 9:29 am }

My take on the risk Palin presents to the Obama-Biden team is different from Bryan’s. I find nothing — absolutely nothing — in all he recites here to recommend her as vice president of the most powerful nation on earth. Rather, it’s the absence of qualifications that make her so dangerous.

Too many Americans are educated to resent the A students, avoid over-achievers, ridicule intelligent thinkers, and pay little or no attention to talented performers. The average American prefers someone with whom he or she can “identify” — a C student, someone who masks muddled thinking with common cliches, those cursed with mediocre talent, and ordinary folk like the guy (or gal) next door who just gets by.

How else explain the popularity of “American Idol”?

Sarah Palin looks just like them. It’s seductive to fantasize her sudden ‘success’ as theirs. The banal victorious! A Nobody Just Like Me prevails!

Very self-affirming. Like voting for yourself.

18 Bryan { 08.30.08 at 11:45 am }

Looking around, Hipparchia, it would appear that while she is personally a very religious person, she is not evangelizing in office. She doesn’t seem to use her office to promote her views, but she will state her personal views if asked, which is in line with Alaskan libertarian attitudes.

John, why was Tim Kaine of Virginia a reasonable VP choice for the junior Senator from Illinois, but Sarah Palin a terrible choice for the senior Senator from Arizona?

19 Mustang Bobby { 08.30.08 at 1:21 pm }

My concern isn’t so much Ms. Palin’s qualifications or lack of same; they have more to do with what the selection tells me about John McCain. As a lot of people have pointed out, there are plenty of prospective vice presidential candidates with all of the qualities Ms. Palin has in the Republican ranks — conservative and so forth (Mike Huckabee, Elizabeth Dole, Gary Bauer, Kay Bailey Hutchison) — but it appears that Mr. McCain chose her solely for the political aspects of tweaking the Democrats’ nose about Hillary Clinton, and not necessarily what will happen after the election. I find that to be frighteningly short-sighted. I don’t care about her gender or her experience; the first one doesn’t matter to me, and the second one matters only in how she learns from it. But if the question is John McCain’s judgment in picking someone only for the campaign, then I wonder what kind of president he would be.

I agree with you, Bryan; mock her at our peril, but I do think we should see this as a test of the executive decisions John McCain will make as president, and that’s not comforting.

(Tim Kaine may have been a “reasonable VP choice,” but in the end, he wasn’t chosen. That tells you something about Mr. Obama’s decision-making.)

20 John B. { 08.30.08 at 1:35 pm }


I know that you know I never once mentioned, or for that matter considered recommending, Tim Kaine to anyone for so much as an instant. So, I understand your question to be more generally addressed to the amorphous Veep Shortlist Leakers. I cannot answer for them. Over the past six weeks or more, they let loose with plenty of head fakes and many patently ridiculous suggestions.

I know no more about Tim Kaine than one can read on Wikipedia: Admitted to Harvard Law School and graduated in 1983. Engaged in private practice of law for 17 years specializing in Federal Fair Housing civil rights cases; taught legal ethics at Richmond Law School for six years, elected to the city council and later served as mayor of Richmond (pop. 200,000+) for a total of seven years; was elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and served for four full years, then was elected Governor and has been serving in that capacity for the last 20 months. He speaks Spanish fluently as well as English and did missionary work with the Jesuits in Honduras for a year.

All in all, I think, a fairly impressive academic background, resume, and skill set. But, still, I did not recommend Tim Kaine and probably would not do so if the job were still open because there are so many even better qualified choices available to Barack Obama.

As for Sarah Palin…. She belongs to a Pentecostal church and, in Dday’s words at Hullabaloo, “She is a creationist-loving anti-choice, environment-despoiling gift to the fundie right… .”

She finished in second place in the Miss Alaska Beauty contest. (1984). Earned a Bachelor’s degree in Using a Pica Stick from the University of Idaho (1987). Worked as an Anchorage TV sports reporter “for a short time” and set fish nets for her husband occasionally. She was elected city councilwoman in the very small town of Wasilla (pop. 5,470) and served from 1992-96. Elected mayor of Wasilla in 1996, she survived a recall petition and was reelected in 2002. Lost a statewide election for Lieutenant Governor, and then was appointed and served as Ethics Chairman of the Alaska State Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for less than two years. She resigned in protest over the lack of ethics in state government and became the named complainant — represented by we-don’t-know- who-lawyers — in two ethics complaints against the incumbent governor and one of his cronies. Elected governor herself in 2006 against very weak opposition, she has served for 18-20 months. She is widely regarded as a “hands-off” governor. She offices most of the time in Anchorage while the legislature and the rest of state government meets in Juneau. The state budget is a no-brainer since Alaska is rich with unspent oil revenues and there are no taxes. She was for the “bridge to nowhere” before she was against it. Less than two months ago, she mentioned in an interview (viewable everywhere on the Internet Tubes these days) that she doesn’t know what the Vice President of the United States does.

All in all, to be frank with you, a below-average resume. She has had a run-of- the-mine political career to this point that could be matched by anywhere from a hundred to a couple of thousand or more people in every one of the fifty states. This is not to say she is a bad person, just that she has not yet shown anything to truly distinguish her from the multitudes. To be sure, her role in the ethics complaints offers some indication of either personal courage or smart lawyering-up. But she, herself, is now emboiled in an ethics case of her own over abuse of power allegations that she and her staff improperly interceded to have the state’s Public Safety Commissioner fired for his refusal to punish her ex-brother-in-law cop a second time by firing him over assertions he had physically abused a child.

That is it, to this point, except for other unverified allegations in the air over her complicated family life and, of course, her rigid right-wing views over a number of issues from Creationism in the classroom to contraception as equivalent to abortion which is, she contends, equivalent to murder.

I’ll leave it to others to compare the education, learning, governmental experience, proven capabilities, character, and principles of the two politicians you mention.

What I can say in praise of Obama is that he didn’t name Kaine or Palin as the answer to the most important question a candidate for president can be asked to decide. That’s a huge plus, as far as I am concerned. Neither of them is within light years of Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, Bill Richardson, or … dare I say it? Even Mitt Romney who, for all of his many faults, governed Massachusetts for four years without completely burning the place down.

McCain, on the other hand, selected Jane Q. Palin. Bryan, you would have been a better pick.

21 hipparchia { 08.30.08 at 2:25 pm }

… it would appear that while she is personally a very religious person, she is not evangelizing in office. She doesn’t seem to use her office to promote her views, but she will state her personal views if asked, which is in line with Alaskan libertarian attitudes.

this is actually quite in line with what a lot of old-time southern democrats were too at one time. very religious, but very firm believers in the separation of church and state, unlike what the democratic party seems to have morphed into this time around.

obama’s plan to increase the size and reach of bush’s faith-based intiative is just plain creepy, and while obama himself seems to hold mild views on abortion and gays, black theology [and i’m generalizing rather egregiously here, i realize that] is not any more friendly towards gays, “loose” women, and some other societal outcasts, than are most other religions/sects/denominations.

and it used to be considered a liberal value that people were free to state their personal views when asked.

also, it looks like i flubbed my link above on the gay partner benefits article.

22 Michael { 08.30.08 at 2:54 pm }

I see nothing in the MSNBC story you linked to, Bryan, that contradicts anything that I said about the investigation–or that is in any way different from the characterizations of the investigation that I’ve seen around Left Blogistan. Palin alleges the firing was due to incompatibility between her ideas of how the office should be run and the then-commissioners. He says otherwise. This is why we have trial courts–to establish which of those stories is true, or which parts of which stories are true. But that doesn’t mitigate the salient fact that Sarah Palin is facing an investigation, which makes McCain’s choice of her for his VP both highly risky and highly unusual. I forget where I read it last night, but at least one lefty blogger compared McCain’s pick of Palin to Nixon’s choice of Spiro Agnew–and I think the characterization fits in more ways than one. Given the precariousness of McCain’s campaign as things stand right now to begin with, picking Palin was a huge risk–and I’m not convinced it’s going to pay off for him.

Palin’s positions on abortion are likely to decrease, not increase, the number of disaffected Clinton supporters taking a look at McCain. She may not even be able to deliver Alaska’s three electoral votes, given that Obama currently holds about a three-point lead in Alaska over McCain, and also given the likelihood that Obama and the DNC are going to be blanketing the airwaves in Alaska with every scrap of information about the ethics investigation that they can dig up. (Apparently, it’s not terribly widely known in the state yet.)

Palin’s experiential base pales by comparison to that of Obama, much less that of Joe Biden. Yes, she’s been governor of Alaska for eighteen months. That isn’t by any stretch of the imagination enough experience to be able to deal with the complexities of politics at the state level, much less the vastly more complicated politics of national and international issues.

As far as her conservatism goes, that may mollify the Republican base somewhat. But it will not likely play well with independents. Eighty percent of voters think this country is heading in the wrong direction. I find it unlikely that many of them are going to vote for a ticket that embodies more of the same BS that we’ve been subjected to for the last eight years. Even the contrast between Palin’s age and that of McCain has been cause for concern. McCain just had his 72nd birthday, and has not been in the greatest of health recently. Is Sarah Palin really the kind of person we want being a heartbeat away from the highest office in the land? I sure don’t think so, and I have a hard time believing that many voters will do so, either.

Yes, I’ve seen quite a bit of blatant sexism in response to the pick–and it’s pissed the hell out of me, too. I’ve been arguing against it wherever I’ve seen it since the pick was announced. But the fact that a few pinheads have been resorting to cheap shots does not, in and of itself, invalidate all the legitimate criticisms that can be leveled against Ms. Palin. Nor, I think, is it likely to do much to turn off voters, considering it’s exactly the sort of thing that the Republicans routinely say about anybody not on their team. For once, they’re taking it in the teeth instead of dishing it out.

23 hipparchia { 08.30.08 at 3:23 pm }

john —

Too many Americans are educated to resent the A students, avoid over-achievers, ridicule intelligent thinkers, and pay little or no attention to talented performers. The average American prefers someone with whom he or she can “identify” — a C student, someone who masks muddled thinking with common cliches, those cursed with mediocre talent, and ordinary folk like the guy (or gal) next door who just gets by.

i’m an a student, iq of 165 [like einstein!] and a former over-achiever, but none of this qualifies me to be president of the united states, or even mayor of two egg. i really like all those qualities in obama, i’d love to see them in all our presidents, but plenty of capable executives and diplomats did not necessarily do well in school, or display blazing talent.

and that budget that’s so awash in oil money it runs itself [and therefore any beauty queen could preside over it without fear of messing it up]?

Over the opposition of oil companies, Republican Gov. Sarah Palin and Alaska’s Legislature last year approved a major increase in taxes on the oil industry

and it’s a pretty hefty tax, too:

How the windfall tax works
The tax is imposed on the net profit earned on each barrel of oil pumped from state lands, after deducting costs for production and transportation.

The tax is set at its highest rate in Prudhoe Bay, where the state takes 25 percent of the net profit of a barrel when its price is at or below $52.

The percentage then escalates as oil prices rise over that benchmark.

obama has said he’s in favor of enacting a windfall profits tax, but sarah palin has already done it.

obama, otoh, when he was in the illinois senate ‘stood up to’ the nuclear power industry by getting a law passed for voluntary reporting of the release of radioactive cooling water into the environment, and he ‘stood up to’ insurance companies in illinois by spending more tax dollars to buy more private insurance for more low-income people, rather than actually working towards enacting a statewide single-payer public plan.

color me unimpressed with the talented, over-achieving, smart dude so far.

24 Moi { 08.30.08 at 11:30 pm }

I think we all need to not underestimate the Religious Right… They’ve wanted this for a LONG time….

This is way too scary for Moi.

25 mapaghimagsik { 08.30.08 at 11:35 pm }

I don’t care too much about Palin. I think the real target is McCain. I’m much more concerned about McCain than Palin, who is a bit of a distraction because I think grumpy McCrankybutt is more than evil enough to live long enough to do serious damage.

26 mapaghimagsik { 08.30.08 at 11:36 pm }

Another point, I think Obama is handling this well. He’s focusing on McCain, which is a smart move.