Favorite

Who is Sarah Palin? 

What John McCain did not know about Sarah Palin before he made her his partner is nearly everything that the public ought to know about someone who could soon be their president: What exactly has she done and what principles moved her to do them?

But McCain may pay no price for the failing. He turned a terrifying weakness — Palin was a complete stranger to American voters and nearly so to him — into a stunning advantage. By the deft use of lies and distortions McCain, Palin and their surrogates turned a blank canvas overnight into a portrait of a stylish Joan of Arc.

The media passed along the image of a fiercely ethical, moose-hunting foe of government taxing and spending and unbending defender of family values. There was nothing not to love, and a star was born. When some papers sent reporters to Alaska or to Alaska newspaper files to get the facts they were denounced as left-wing conspirators.

Only a little vetting through the files of the Anchorage Daily News and the Wasilla Frontiersman produces the lineaments of a typically political and opportunistic public life. As a councilwoman and mayor at tiny Wasilla and as governor for 20 months, she exhibited the consummate political skill of saying one thing, doing the opposite and getting credit for both. Mike Huckabee owns the patent. He governed as a tax-and-spend liberal  but politicked as a tightfisted conservative.

Palin, McCain and all the Republican surrogates who spoke up for her on the network shows touted two iconic images that came to represent her storied career. She sold the former governor's “luxury jet” on eBay “and made a profit,” McCain told cheering delegates, and when Congress sent hundreds of millions for the legendary “bridge to nowhere” she told Congress, by her account, “thanks but no thanks” — they could keep all the millions.

Neither was true.

Gov. Frank Murkowski, Palin's political benefactor until she ran against him, had bought a 23-year-old jet to get around Alaska, which is more than twice the size of Texas. All his opponents in the 2006 election, Democrat and Republican, ridiculed him and said they would sell the plane if they got elected. Palin put it on eBay, which Murkowski had done successfully with many other state assets, but the state got no worthy bids. So the state sold the plane at a private auction and, rather than the profit that McCain claimed she got, the state took a loss of $500,000.

McCain, who really has fought pork-barrel spending like the fabled bridge to Ketchikan, characterized Palin as a fierce foe of them, and her alleged refusal to accept the appropriation for the bridge was the emblem of her principled stand. But that was a stretch if not an outright lie.

As mayor of Wasilla she hired a lobbyist close to Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, the pork barrelers in chief, to get earmarks for her town, and they delivered millions. As governor, in 18 months she submitted $453 million in earmark requests to Congress, roughly $650 for every person in Alaska.

As for the bridge, she supported it when she was running two years ago. Congress stopped the bridge earmark, but the state's Republican delegation got the money appropriated for whatever purposes Alaska wanted to spend it on. The bridge cost by then had far outstripped the appropriation. Contrary to her assertions now, Palin told Congress, “thanks a lot.” She spent every dime on other pork projects and said she was asking transportation officials to come up with another plan for the bridge.

Stevens was indicted this spring and Young is under criminal investigation. They are whipping boys now, but two years ago she was praising them for their pork-barreling success, including the bridge. “And our congressional delegation, God bless ‘em,” she said. “They do a great job for us. Rep. Don Young, especially God bless him. We're very, very fortunate to receive the largesse that Don Young was able to put together for Alaska.”

McCain said again and again last week that he just couldn't wait to turn Palin loose on the free-spending Congress. What would she do? Shoot them? And this week we learn that Palin has paid herself a daily expense for living at home and for taking family members to public events.

Her big monuments as governor are her promotion of the trans-Canada gas pipeline to the states and the big windfall profits tax on oil, which financed the $1,200 checks she is sending to every person in Alaska — the source of her current popularity. Both were pushed by the former governor, and Palin opposed them. Candidate Palin said the pipeline should stay in Alaska and furnish gas for Alaska's needs, not the lower 48, and she said she would fight taxes on the oil companies. But the legislature liked Murkowski's plans, and once elected, a la Huckabee, she adopted them as her own.

This wouldn't bother McCain, or a lot of us, but the family-values people might profit from a little vetting. Palin once confirmed that she had smoked marijuana, explaining that while it violated federal law it was not against the law in Alaska. Anyway, she said, she didn't enjoy it much.

As a city official, Palin fought efforts to force Wasilla's bars to close at 3 a.m. rather than 5 a.m., as the police chief wanted, and she joined the campaign against a state law to close bars earlier. She fired the police chief although objections from bar owners who supported her might not have been the full reason she fired him. According to the Wasilla newspaper in 1993, she explained that the chief intimidated her with his size (6 feet tall and more than 200 pounds) and the “stern” way he looked at her.

She's a few votes and a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Tax tales

    The easiest task in the world may be to persuade people that they are paying higher taxes than folks in other communities, states and countries, but there is never a shortage of people taking on the task.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • Stifling dissent

    Whenever Donald Trump in his serial bouts with failure decides he must re-energize his base of white nationalists by doing things like demonizing black athletes who protest discrimination, the mainstream press falls for it and gives him maximum space and time. We're addicted.
    • Sep 28, 2017
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
    • Sep 21, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • No tax help for Trump

    The big conundrum is supposed to be why Donald Trump does so well among white working-class people, particularly men, who do not have a college education.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Dollars and degrees

    Governor Hutchinson says a high graduation rate (ours is about the lowest) and a larger quotient of college graduates in the population are critical to economic development. Every few months there is another, but old, key to unlocking growth.
    • Aug 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • Guest Playlist: Flap Jones of "Not Necessarily Nashville" schools us on real country music

    "Not Necessarily Nashville," which airs on KUAR-FM 89.1 every Saturday, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., celebrates three decades of the "best of the rest of country music" Saturday, October 21 at the White Water Tavern with Brad Williams of The Salty Dogs & The Creek Rocks, and we asked host Flap Jones to curate a playlist for us ahead of that anniversary celebration.
  • Discussion: State killing of the mentally ill

    The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and others will have a forum on mental illness and the death penalty at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Bowen School of Law's Friday Courtroom.

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Tax tales

    The easiest task in the world may be to persuade people that they are paying higher taxes than folks in other communities, states and countries, but there is never a shortage of people taking on the task.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • Stifling dissent

    Whenever Donald Trump in his serial bouts with failure decides he must re-energize his base of white nationalists by doing things like demonizing black athletes who protest discrimination, the mainstream press falls for it and gives him maximum space and time. We're addicted.
    • Sep 28, 2017
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
    • Sep 21, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Cotton to CIA?

    Political junkies without a real election to overanalyze fill the void with "what if?" scenarios. With the State Fair underway, consider this column a helping of cotton candy for such readers.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Caution: government at work

    • The people of Arkansas need to keep demanding that our state government be accountable to…

    • on October 21, 2017
  • Re: Cotton to CIA?

    • Watching C-Span last week, they were talking about Cotton for the head of the FBI…

    • on October 21, 2017
  • Re: The casting couch

    • sigh............ I would argue that the idea of 'freedom from fear' is part of the…

    • on October 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation