Sunday, August 31, 2008

McCain's Bane?

The longer I think about it, the less well this selection sits with me.... If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency? David Frum of the National Review

What was McCain thinking? His choice of AK Governor Sarah Palin as the presumptive Republican nominee for Vice President seems less a legitimate pick and more an exercise in flawed strategy. Even more seriously, McCain's choice shows a pandering to extreme right wing conservatives - folks who deny the authority of evolution as a proven concept, who deny women the choice to command their own bodies, and who wish to deny lesbians and gay males equal legal rights under law.

Sarah Palin was born in Idaho and moved to Alaska when an infant with her parents. Her father was a science teacher and her mother a secretary. (Interesting question to ponder: is her Creationism a sign of unresolved rebellion against Dad?)

Palin has no law degree, no post graduate degree(s) of any kind, ending her education after receiving a BS in Communications. That's not to say that Palin is unfamiliar with the legal system, as evidenced by her multiple lawsuits both in public office and out. She has lived most of her life within the borders of Alaska, leaving the country just twice to visit Ireland and Kuwait.

Her political career began in 1992, when she began the first of two terms on the city council of Wasilla (see tiny red dot on map), and then was elected Mayor of that town by 909 voters. Her husband, her high school sweetheart, apparently did not vote since he is not a registered voter.

After the election,Palin fired the police chief and library director, a pattern of removal that accompanies her electoral authority. The police chief sued Palin, accusing her of firing him because he supported her opponent's campaign. His suit was dismissed. A brief recall effort was generated by Wasilla residents after her election but was then abandoned.

Palin made an unsuccessful bid for the lieutenant governor job after her terms as Mayor. She wasn't elected but she did get an appointment to head up the Alaskan Oil and Gas Conservation Committee, a quasi judicial body that regulates oil and gas drilling in the state and "protects the public" from waste. Palin resigned her post in protest, alleging ethics violations. Next, Palin sued the Republican party's state chair and the former Alaskan attorney general.

In 2006, she became the state's first female head of state when she was elected Governor of Alaska. Within a short time, she rescinded 35 appointments made by the former governor. A year later, she was supporting the "Bridge to Nowhere" project but canceled the proposal when it became a national symbol of wasteful spending.

A very strong backer of developing Alaska's oil and gas resources, Palin introduced a bill to build a pipeline to transport oil out of the North Slope of Alaska into the Lower 48. When it was made law, she announced that only one company was in the bidding and awarded the contract to a Canadian company, TransCanada Pipelines, along with $500 million in seed money.

Just a few months ago, Palin initiated yet another lawsuit, this time against the federal government in an effort to remove polar bears from protection as an Endangered Species -- a legal maneuver meant to open the doors for gas and oil development. Her opposition to the listing drew this response, as published in the Anchorage Daily News:
She's either grossly misinformed or intentionally misleading, and both are unbecoming," said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. "Alaska deserves better."

Siegel said it was unconscionable for Palin to ignore overwhelming evidence of global warming's threat to sea ice, the polar bear's habitat.

"Even the Bush administration can't deny the reality of global warming," she said. "The governor is aligning herself and the state of Alaska with the most discredited, fringe, extreme viewpoints by denying this."

Despite her personal beliefs, Palin did comply with a state supreme court ruling to award benefits to partners in same sex relationships. And she vetoed a measure by the state legislature to deny the benefits granted by the court ruling upon the advice of her state attorney. Nonetheless, Palin publicly disagreed with the court's "foundation" when it made its decision.

More recently, Palin has been embroiled in a controversy involving her firing of the commissioner of public safety and possible abuse of power. The entangled affair includes allegations by the former commissioner that Palin spoke with him on more than one occasion in an effort to have him fire a state trooper. The trooper is Palin's brother-in-law, who supposedly threatened to Palin's father. The messy details are reported at length in this news article. It's a small town saga befitting one of the many "real life" TV mystery genres. But "Troopergate" as it has become known, does not befit the reality of a candidate for the office of VP of the U.S.

If Troopergate were not sufficient reason to doubt McCain's selection, there is the backdoor "investigation" of the Governor's last pregnancy, and claims that the child is actually the illegitimate son of her teen-aged daughter. This story is making the internet blog rounds starting with a Daily Kos photo/video story by someone calling him/herself ArcXIX. Most of these doubting-pregnancy blurbs are based on a chronology of photos showing Palin 5-6-7 months into her pregnancy and with little body weight. Photos are here and here.

Even more suspicious are the movements of Palin a day or so before she gave birth. Critics point out that she refused to bypass her keynote address at a Texas affair even after announcing that her amniotic fluid was leaking, and then took an 8-10 hour airline flight back to Alaska without notifying the airline of her imminent delivery. The capstone to this saga is that Palin opted to deliver in her hometown hospital, which required additional travel time after landing in Alaska.

Who knows whether any of the surmising is true. But it does matter, regardless of what some consider a shameful personal intrusion. Remember the ole saw: "the personal is political."

Palin carried a Downs syndrome baby to term (assuming it is hers), and was knowledgeable about the child's status. For her to delay medical attention so she could deliver a speech, and then to further delay medical attention by a long airline flight makes no credible sense. If she was pregnant, then I question whether her actions were responsible. If indeed the baby is her daughter's, then cannot I applaud her deviousness.

This entire pregnant, not-pregnant business is the topic of discussion among the internet media and forums, and has even expanded to the notion that the baby is not in fact displaying Downs syndrome but has the facial characteristics of Inuit natives. If this is indeed so, then the argument is that Palin is ascribing the physical features of the boy to Down's syndrome to offset the fact that he bears little to no resemblance to her and may be of Inuit heritage.

But the fact that Palin announced her pregancy shortly after word of her as a VP contender came out certainly strengthens the current spate of inquiry. Her staff were shocked to learn of her pregnancy, also a notable detail. And why would the proud "hockey mom" and parent of four kids hide her pregnancy anyway?

[The undated photo on the left shows a very pregnant younger Palin. The other photo shows Palin when she would have been seven months pregnant, just before delivering the newest child. The differences are obvious.]

Then again, maybe McCain is setting her up as the sacrificial lamb. If the election is lost, then blame it on Palin. Though that reasoning has a big flaw: McCain will take a hit for being the fool who selected her as his running mate. Still, the idea has some merit. As an outsider, McCain can put the onus on her with minimal injury to his own reputation or future negotiation ability, should he return to D.C.

But somehow the fact that Palin is associated with oil makes me believe that McCain is dead serious about her. And if elected, we are in serious trouble.

1 comment:

Maria said...

What an utterly digusting practice
to call a "sport".