Monday, September 1, 2008

More on the Palin Selection

I've been trying to give Palin a fair shake as a Vice Presidential nominee. After spending a couple of hours cruising around the Internet, I'm afraid that my fuse is burning short.

Palin's most attractive characteristic has been her reputation as a reform-minded governor. But even that is being called into serious doubt. As I posted earlier, Palin evidently supported the infamous bridge to nowhere before opposing it. Not only that, she kept the money that she claimed that she was saving the taxpayers.

From the Times Online piece:

in a first unsettling revelation – which the McCain camp will hope does not become a pattern – the Anchorage Daily News reported yesterday that when she ran for governor Mrs Palin campaigned on a “build the bridge” platform. The newspaper, in a reference to John Kerry’s alleged “flip-flopping” in the 2004 presidential campaign, said: “Palin was for the Bridge before she was against it.”

It also appears that Palin was nearly recalled as Mayor of Wasilla after she fired the police chief and library director for failing to support her campaign. This is certainly not an action one would expect of a "reform-minded" candidate.

There is also a collection of supporting documents related to the firing of the Public Safety Commissioner. From the Times Online piece:

The bipartisan investigation by the Alaskan state legislature, which is known locally as “Troopergate”, was launched last month when Mr Monegan, after he was fired, alleged publicly that he had been sacked for refusing to fire Mike Wooten, Mrs Palin’s brother-in-law, and after months of pressure by the Palin camp.

There is a fair amount of evidence that aides to Palin had placed pressure on Monegan. Palin denies that the pressure was applied at her direction.

From an AP report on troopergate:

Palin has denied the commissioner's dismissal had anything to do with her former brother-in-law. And she denied orchestrating the dozens of telephone calls made by her husband and members of her administration to Wooten's bosses.
In 2005, before Palin ran for office, the Palin family accused Wooten of drinking a beer while in his patrol car, illegal hunting and firing a Taser at his 11-year-old stepson. The Palins also claimed Wooten threatened to kill Sarah Palin's father.

Wooten was suspended over the allegations for five days in 2006 but is still on the job. Monegan refused to comment on Wooten's situation, saying he could not discuss personnel matters.

More recently, Todd Palin said, he took his concerns over the governor's safety directly to Monegan. But he said he never told anyone to fire Wooten.
Attorney General Talis Colberg's conducted an investigation and found that 14 members of the Palin administration — including Colberg himself — made calls to Department of Public Safety officials about Wooten.

Her Replacement Commissioner had to resign after just two weeks on the job, following revelations about a reprimand he had received for sexual harassment.

It also appears to be well-known that Palin favors inserting creationism into the science classroom.

The volatile issue of teaching creation science in public schools popped up in the Alaska governor's race this week when Republican Sarah Palin said she thinks creationism should be taught alongside evolution in the state's public classrooms.

Palin was answering a question from the moderator near the conclusion of Wednesday night's televised debate on KAKM Channel 7 when she said, "Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."

Later, Palin backpedaled, perhaps after consulting with somebody familiar with the concept of a separation between church and state:

The question has divided local school boards in several places around the country and has come up in Alaska before, including once before the state Board of Education in 1993.

The teaching of creationism, which relies on the biblical account of the creation of life, has been ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court as an unconstitutional injection of religion into public education.

Last December, in a widely publicized local case, a federal judge in Pennsylvania threw out a city school board's requirement that "intelligent design" be mentioned briefly in science classes. Intelligent design proposes that biological life is so complex that some kind of intelligence must have shaped it.

In an interview Thursday, Palin said she meant only to say that discussion of alternative views should be allowed to arise in Alaska classrooms:

"I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum."

She added that, if elected, she would not push the state Board of Education to add such creation-based alternatives to the state's required curriculum.

I've been waiting for her Republican defenders to explain what Palin's national security qualifications for the presidency are. Maybe she had written articles or editorials, or maybe she had experience traveling to other lands. So far, the best they've come up with is:

  • She has negotiated with the Canadian government over a natural gas pipeline from Alaska. (At least she has one good entry on her resume.)

  • Alaska shares a border with Russia. (Presumably, she has obtained insight into the Russian soul via osmosis across the Bering Strait.)

  • She first obtained a passport in 2007 to perform visits to the Alaska National Guard in Kuwait and Germany. (Her foreign travel experience is so limited that a stopover in Ireland is listed on her resume.)

In the August 31 "This Week" discussion of the Palin decision, George Will was so desperate that he had to fall back on the argument that he cared more about her positions than her experience. I can't think of another case where George Will has said such a thing.

There is more to the qualification to high executive branch office than experience. There is understanding the constitutional principle of limited government and the culture of corruption that inevitably develops in a capitol that abandones limited government; that regulates everything and subsidizes everybody. She understands that.

Palin and Science
Palin and Earmarks
Palin Seeks to Ban Books
Palin & Funding for UnWed Mothers