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A Political Obituary For Sarah Palin

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There’s something about Sarah Palin. The Wasilla ice queen taught us that incoherency, whining, passing the blame, and hate spewing can bring you within 192 electoral votes of federal rule.

Palin stepped down as governor the other week, but her place in American culture remains.

We were introduced to Alaska’s former governor last summer, when the good old boys of the Republican Party likely forced an aging, uncharismatic John McCain to accept the radical onto his ticket. During her national introduction, she taught us the difference between hockey moms and bulldogs, then claimed sexism when her opponents repeated the statement.

She provided the American public with laughable, cringe-worthy campaign interviews, once claiming her Wasilla, Alaska mayoral career – the state trooper-dubbed “Meth Capital” – and two years as governor, taught her foreign policy. “As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America,” she told Katie Couric, “where– where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border.” Fox News commentators repeated her claim and entertainingly gave it credence.

In a nod to the now-deceased Dr. Tiller, she openly refused to declare abortion clinic bombers domestic terrorists.

A hero to oil companies and those stalked by black helicopters, her vice-presidential nomination single-handedly removed John McCain from contending in Northeastern swing states like New Hampshire and Maine. In campaign speeches, she blamed the media, the motion picture industry, and 60s radicals for all America’s badness, winkingly contending the old Confederacy was the pro-American section of the United States.

Born in Idaho, her family moved to Wasilla, Alaska when Sarah was just an infant. In high school, she was a star athlete and won the Miss Wasilla Pageant, then finished third in the 1984 Miss Alaska Pageant. After six years at five colleges, Sarah graduated from the University of Idaho, with a Bachelor’s Degree in communications, desiring a career in sportscasting – which she did, for a year.

The world was her oyster.

She found herself elected to the city council of Wasilla in 1992, serving one-and-a-third terms. In 1996, she ran for mayor of the small town, beating three-time incumbent John Stein. An iron-fisted ruler, she would attempt to ban books from the local library and fire police officers she claimed did not support her efforts to govern.

In 2006, she ran for governor of the state and won with 48% of the vote, becoming the youngest governor in Alaskan history. Within a year, polls would show her popularity at 93%. Before, during, and after her unsuccessful run for vice-president, she was hit with a series of ethics complaints in her home state and resigned for unknown reasons, her in-state ratings then hovering just above 50% and her national approval at 40%.

During her resignation announcement, she claimed quitting meant, in the words of Douglas MacArthur: “We are not retreating; we are advancing in another direction.”

And as she advances, blaming others for her misfortunes is still at the forefront of her rambling speeches. She has vowed to take on Hollywood straw men and invisible ghosts, predicting actresses will attempt to smear Alaska so wolves can no longer be shot from helicopters. She lectured the media in her final speech, claiming it shouldn’t criticize her because American troops die overseas. She promises her fans a more politically incorrect dialogue on her Twitter account.

Last November, Palin was hundreds of electoral votes away from having a say in our federal government. It was too close.

Homepage photo: www.i75.photobucket.com

thumbnail: www.theokeith.wordpress.com


Comments


5:31 PM
Thu Aug 6 2009
Randy, I am so disappointed with this article...

For a few weeks you were moving toward a more honest and balanced perspective in your articles but, like a dog returning to its own vomit, you’ve descended into the vilest depths of misogynistic pseudo-journalism. Not only is your article replete with factual errors (e.g., the book-banning myth has long been debunked) but Palin-bashing is – well, not exactly original, is it?  I had hoped you would have come up with something less cliché – like maybe a theory that the grandmoms who shouted down Arlen Specter are really members of a South Philadelphia based neo-Nazi hot-yoga cult or something. So why waste so much time and energy on Sarah Palin? Your use of the word “obituary” in the title only thinly veils an undeniably misogynistic death-wish.  But I’m not picking on you personally; many on the left truly would like to see Ms. Palin go out of existence or – better yet – not to have ever existed at all.  And hence the endless rewriting of Palin’s personal history; a mighty effort to deconstruct her mystique and say, “look – she never was the super-woman you thought her to be! She’s EVIL!” Oh my. In fact, the left has never been fond of competent women, particularly physically attractive ones. Look what they did to one of their own – Hillary Clinton – in the primary election.  But Sarah Palin is not only accomplished and attractive but pro-life, pro-family and yes, a soccer mom. Such women simply don’t fit the leftist world view of women being forced to make hard choices between career and family, beauty or brains. Sarah says that you can have it all and still cling to your guns ‘n Bible!. This can be very threatening to those who believe they have made such hard choices and raises the twin specters of guilt and inadequacy. If hatred of Sarah Palin is a projection of self-loathing, a desire to eliminate the source is certainly understandable. But what about leftist men? Perhaps Palin is the focal point of a more generalized misogyny; a deep- seated resentment among those who feel emasculated by their often very competent (or superior) female counterparts. Yet they must pay lip-service to the very ideology that has stripped them of their manhood (and NEVER openly admit that yes, they do find cheerleaders and beauty queens physically attractive!). I have always admired the left’s ability to live in such a state of perpetual cognitive dissonance, but once in a while it all spills out in the form of politically-correct violence against women-  hence the systematic character assassination of Sarah Palin. Thank goodness we use only words for such deeds in this country instead of stones.


7:21 PM
Thu Aug 6 2009
Thanks!

Thanks for the comment. I love your passion!

However -- Sarah Palin trying to ban books is not a "myth." While the list of banned books that circulated through email during the election was wrong, it was true that Palin tried. The librarian at the time, Mary Ellen Emmonds, confirmed this in a 1996 article from Wasilla's newspaper, the Frontiersman.

From The Frontiersman:

 "I'm not trying to suppress anyone's views," Emmons (the librarian) told the Frontiersman. "But I told her (Palin) clearly, I will fight anyone who tries to dictate what books can go on the library shelves."

"This is different than a normal book-selection procedure or a book-challenge policy," Emmons said. "She was asking me how I would deal with her saying a book can't be in the library."

Your psychological analysis of those opposed to Sarah Palin's views is also quite interesting. 

***And, for the record, the term "obituary" has nothing to do with some sick desire on my part for Mrs. Palin to literally die or to have never existed. (I mean, come on.) "Political Obituaries" are articles/opinion pieces written about the end of a political career. 

-Randy


11:41 PM
Thu Aug 6 2009
No, she really didn't try to ban books...

Ah, but your statement was, "An iron-fisted ruler, she would attempt to ban books from the local library..."  Can we really equate an inquiry of "how I would deal with her saying a book can't be in the library" with an "attempt to ban books from the local library..." ? Obviously not. If someone asked you, "how would you deal with a murder," could you accuse them of trying to murder you? Or even threatening you? Of course not. Your interpretation is a real leap of logic! Here's the proof: can you verify one single book that Palin actually attempted to ban? Before you answer, you might want to check http://www.snopes.com/politics/palin/bannedbooks.asp  That's where the myth is debunked!

 


1:48 AM
Fri Aug 7 2009
Yup, seen it...

I've read the Snopes article, which, as I've said, debunks the chain email thrown around about Palin that gives a fictional list of books like Harry Potter, Clockwork Orange, etc. she banned, not her attempt to do so.

So, please notice in the article and in your quotation from the article the word used is "attempt." 

This is in the Snopes article you've cited:

In December 1996, Emmons told her hometown newspaper, the Frontiersman, that Palin three times asked her -- starting before she was sworn in -- about possibly removing objectionable books from the library if the need arose.

Emmons told the Frontiersman she flatly refused to consider any kind of censorship. Emmons, now Mary Ellen Baker, is on vacation from her current job in Fairbanks and did not return e-mail or telephone messages left for her Wednesday.

When the matter came up for the second time in October 1996, during a City Council meeting, Anne Kilkenny, a Wasilla housewife who often attends council meetings, was there.

Like many Alaskans, Kilkenny calls the governor by her first name.

"Sarah said to Mary Ellen, 'What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?" Kilkenny said.

"I was shocked. Mary Ellen sat up straight and said something along the line of, 'The books in the Wasilla Library collection were selected on the basis of national selection criteria for libraries of this size, and I would absolutely resist all efforts to ban books.'"

...and this is also in that same Snopes article:

Palin notified Emmons she would be fired in January 1997 because the mayor didn't feel she had the librarian's "full support." 

So, the word used in this article is "attempt" and the basis of this particular Philly2Philly column is "opinion."

 


9:14 AM
Fri Aug 7 2009
No books, no attempt. No story.

Mary Ellen is quoted by Kilkenny as saying, "I would absolutely resist all efforts to ban books." She did not say that the governor actually attempted to ban books, nor did she say "I did resist" or "I am resisting." She said "I WOULD resist" - a conditional, meaning that it hasn't happened. You have taken that conditional and interpreted it as factual. To take my admittedly silly murder analogy further, suppose I said, "What would you do if I attempted to murder someone?" And you responded, "I would absolutely resist all your efforts."  You certainly could not then claim that I attempted to murder someone. At very best, you might claim that I seemed to be contemplating murder. But if asked whom I was contemplating to murder, you wouldn't be able to answer. Just as you have not been able to answer my question about what books Palin allegedly attempted to ban. No victim, no murder. No books, no attempt. This is what I mean by a leap of logic. Randy, you are a good writer and a bright guy, but you owe it to your readers to stick to the facts. Someone casually reading your article would assume that Palin had actually identified a list of books and asked the librarian to remove them. It never even came close to that. The reader should not have to research all of your assertions; there is an implicit trust in their truth value. But you break that trust in articles like the one above. I know you can do better. You'd get hammered for something like this in professional journalism and you certainly don't want to be pigeon-holed as an advocacy writer at this stage of your career. You've got far more potential than that.

 


2:31 PM
Fri Aug 7 2009
I appreciate that, but look:

I appreciate that, but look: Palin got into what some might call a spat with a librarian over the potential censorship of books. The librarian was openly offended by the suggestion of such. Palin then fired the very same  librarian. 

What conclusion are we supposed to come to here?

It sounds like, to me, firing the librarian was Palin's second step in actually going through with the censorship. In fact, Emmons wouldn't have been rehired by Palin if there weren't such a public outcry after the incident occurred. Palin has been infamous throughout her career for firing state employees who, she says, don't give her full support, including, later, two police officers. 

These are facts. My assessment of this was yes, she would attempt to ban books but failed due to a public outcry that got this librarian reinstated, and firing random state employees because, in your own opinion, they don't "fully support" your governorship is iron-fisted. If someone wants to take from the word "attempt" that I have a list of books she actually removed from the library, so be it, but it's clearly not stated here.


2:56 PM
Fri Aug 7 2009
You just proved my point...

OK, you just said "she would attempt to ban books but failed..." not "she DID attempt to ban books but failed."  Thus you are concluding intention at best, not an actual attempt. And that conclusion is speculative, not fact-based. Assuming that the firings were real for the reasons you stated (I frankly haven't fact-checked them - I'm trusting you on this one, Randy), an equally plausible explanation is that she "tests" employees' loyalty by presenting them with outrageous scenarios that she never intends to carry through. That would make her a difficult boss but in no way proves that she actually attempted to ban books.


3:56 PM
Fri Aug 7 2009
Dude, as for the firing and

Dude, as for the firing and everything else cited here, I'm tying to give you the benefit of the doubt and am only using the original link you provided me to prove my own point, from Snopes.com. There are plenty of other references to Palin trying to ban books during her time in Wasilla, including a priest's accusation that she banned his book about coming to terms with homosexuality. 

You can read this, from Salon: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/09/15/bess/

And after she became mayor of Wasilla, according to Bess, Sarah Palin tried to get rid of his book from the local library. Palin now denies that she wanted to censor library books, but Bess insists that his book was on a "hit list" targeted by Palin. "I'm as certain of that as I am that I'm sitting here. This is a small town, we all know each other. People in city government have confirmed to me what Sarah was trying to do."

And how about this, from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/14/us/politics/14palin.html?_r=2&pagewanted=3&hp

But in 1995, Ms. Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues that she had noticed the book “Daddy’s Roommate” on the shelves and that it did not belong there, according to Ms. Chase and Mr. Stein. Ms. Chase read the book, which helps children understand homosexuality, and said it was inoffensive; she suggested that Ms. Palin read it.

“Sarah said she didn’t need to read that stuff,” Ms. Chase said. “It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn’t even read it.”

“I’m still proud of Sarah,” she added, “but she scares the bejeebers out of me.”

The McCain camp was able to bury this story by proving a false smear email sent around by God-knows-who that listed mainstream books like Harry Potter, were banned.

At that, it seems you're really fishing for ways to defend Palin with the idea that she tests employee's loyalty by presenting them with outrageous scenarios. I mean, really? How does that explain the firing? Emmons was fired from her job, as I've said, for, in Palin's opinion, not "fully" supporting her as mayor (as proven in the link your provided). That's the only explanation Palin ever gave. Emmons was rehired a day later because of protests and the fact that Palin had no real reason she could at least politically use back up the original firing.


4:43 PM
Fri Aug 7 2009
Not defending Palin - and still no proof

No, I'm not interested in defending Palin. I'm just forcing your hand on the assertion in your article that "she would attempt to ban books from the local library." That's a very serious allegation. The Salon article you cite quotes Bess (actually a Baptist minister, not a priest - technical point) as stating that his book was on Palin's "hit list." She denies it and no "hit list" appeared. So at best it's he-says-she-says.The NY Times article describes a situation where Palin allegedly saw a book she didn't like and said it didn't belong in the library. That's her opinion and she's free to express it. The article did not describe any steps she took to officially have it removed. So we're still swimming in the muddy waters of unsubstantiated allegations. I want to see the "hit list" if there is one. I want to see a copy of the directive from her office to the library ordering the books to be removed. Without those two pieces of evidence, all we have is hearsay. Show me those and I'll buy you a beer!


5:01 PM
Fri Aug 7 2009
As open as I am to grabbing

As open as I am to grabbing an ale, it looks like what you're saying is, who are we to believe? Based on everything else I know about Palin, I don't believe her in this case.

But we've got to remember, opinion pieces are taken from others' reporting and I come to conclusions based on that. It's like today's "Doctor Obama" article. Is there any evidence that the White House is spying on Americans just because they're encouraging volunteers to ask them about unsubstantiated rumors regarding health care? Nope. It's an opinion. That's what we're going for here. If you want late, breaking news, you're going to need to follow up with the Associated Press or some other such news service.

In my opinion, Palin firing the librarian after trying to intimidate her or whatever you want to call that, was the second step in an attempt toward a book ban. The articles I quote above have led me toward that conclusion, as they would many others. Luckily, the people of Wasilla stood up to her and stopped her from following through and sided with the librarian. I don't think you necessarily need to get within arm's reach (in your opinion, I believe, having a list of books) of a conclusion (in this case, banning books) before you've made an "attempt." In my opinion, the attempt started with the intimidation, and proceeded with the firing. I don't know what the next step in that attempt would be, but it may have taken even longer. Who knows? After all, local governments are not very efficient.

Feel free to take the last word. It's Friday, after all, and the Phillies are on in a couple hours.


5:06 PM
Fri Aug 7 2009
Fair enough...

Enjoy the game and have a great weekend!