THE VEXATIOUS ONE IN THE CHINA SHOP
WORKING IN THE VINTAGE WHERE THE GRAPES OF POLARIZATION ARE STORED
Sarah Palin’s book is as much or more about her parenting experience than her political journey. While the two are obviously intertwined she is not the first woman nor will she be the last, to be a political figure so the anecdotal emphasis on her parenting and family life is more for filler than substance in this book and, to many, not that impressive.
She held the Alaska Governor’s office from December 4, 2006 until July 26 2009 when she voluntarily resigned. Although she took the oath of office on December 4, she did not move to the Capital, Juneau, until January 7, 2007 with her four children, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Track.
With its pristine vistas of mountains and sea, the Juneau mansion was a comfortable home although old. The first order of business was cost cutting and she reduced the staff at the mansion including the chef. Of course she sold the plane the preceding Governor had purchased. Much publicity and fanfare accompanied her cost cutting campaign taken on so shortly after she became Governor. One wonders about the wisdom of selling the State plane for 2.1 million in 2007 which was purchased by the prior Murkowski Administration for 2.7 million in 2005. This in a State she describes as one fifth the size of the entire continental United States.
As it turns out she lived in Juneau when the legislature was in session and in Wasilla the rest of the year governing from her office in Anchorage.
She notes that she fired the chef at the Juneau residence preferring for her and Bristol, born 10/18/90, to cook for the family and to use outside catering for official engagements.
She was often visited by Republican stalwarts while on “tourist cruises” and mentions Bill Kristol, the neoconservative Editor of the Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes, also an editor of the Weekly Standard and a Fox news commentator and Dick Morris a political consultant and commentator on Fox News.
She says her best dish is Moose Chili. One wonders if she served the Chili to these Washington power brokers. However she does say once the chef was fired the children were not happy to eat Moose Chili several times a week. One must surmise that if Kristol and Barnes took the time to visit her they must have given her a subscription to the Weekly Standard. Why she would not tell that to Katie Couric when asked what she read provides an interesting insight as to her character.
All this brings into question whether it was wise or even practical for a Governor with four young children and whose husband was 1300 miles away at his production job to fire her chef and take on the duties herself. This sounds as if it would be detrimental to her duties as Governor and the State would be impacted by the absence of a Governor who was at home cooking for her children. Perhaps this is an exaggeration as it seems more than likely she had help in the mansion although she doesn’t mention this in her book except to say sixteen year old Bristol, helped.
On the same subject the sale of the State plane at a loss seems like a less than practical move in a State the size of Alaska where a Governor and her staff might not want to depend on scheduled airlines to get to meetings and conferences around the State. Also a private plane would have facilities for working with her aides and resting while on her journeys as Governor. So both these cuts she brags about have negative side effects and may have made her a less efficient Governor ultimately costing the State more.
She became the subject of an ethics investigation regarding her per diem travel claims incurred to meet her many speaking invitations around the State while she was Governor. The entities requiring her presence also asked her to” bring the children along .“ She might have avoided this if she used a State plane
She states her main objective was not to clean up government and cut costs although these were certainly high on her list of things to do but to get a natural gas pipeline built to the Lower Forty Eight. While in office she proposed an inducement act to provide seed money to a firm that wanted to build a land line through Canada. The opposing plans would build an “All Alaska” gas line from Prudhoe Bay to a Valdez terminal for shipment as Liquefied Natural Gas to the Lower Forty Eight. It would also supply the energy source to Anchorage and Fairbanks, the State’s population centers.
She settled in to Juneau which she describes as an environmentally beautiful place but with an “Animal House” like culture because of the many parties and drinking involving lobbyists and legislators. All this led to FBI investigations of conflicts of interest and illegalities.
Early on as Governor she solidified her credentials with the National Rifle Association describing her opposition to “Hollywood liberals” attempt to circumscribe wolf kills designed to prevent them from decimating the Moose and Caribou herds which many Alaskans depend on to supplement their diets. She says one of the animal rights groups presented their case through a “perky, pretty celebrity” to attack Alaska’s scientifically controlled, state-managed wolf control program. The issue involved the number of wolves to be killed and the use of helicopters. Pretty and perky seem to be one of her many attributes also as well as being a spokes person for the far right. Its was like the kettle calling the pot black bottom.
However her initial years as Governor were basically uneventful, she wasn’t cleaning up government as promised in her campaign, she was firing little people and making a less than astute decision to sell the State plane at a loss. Also not much new drilling was accomplished.
In other words she was like a bull in a china shop.
She tells us she created a group of advisers to define her gas pipe plan while in her Anchorage office the month before she arrived in Juneau. This doesn’t sound like a plan to engage the legislature in developing a plan that everyone could support.
After she arrived in Juneau she assembled another group of advisers. This sounds like the “insiders “she so roundly criticized the other side and the legislature for having in the election.
Thus she created the grounds for polarization before and after she arrived in the Capital instead of building political alliances to get things done with people in government who had the power she needed to realize her goals.
On Alaska Day October 18, 2005 she entered the race for Governorship of Alaska against an incumbent from her own political party, Frank Murkowski. Murkowski had not announced whether he was going to run for reelection at the time but she decided not to wait. Murkowski had abysmal approval ratings but he did have the backing of the Republican Party whose chairman was Randy Ruedrich, the Co-Commissioner on the Alaska Oil and Gas and Conservation Commission who she had blown the whistle on for his conflicts of interest. This led to an FBI investigation of the matter and Ruedich ultimately resigned and paid a $12000 fine. Murkowski was implicated in Ruedrich’s conduct by his failure to timely act on the matter.
The Irony of all this is that she would later resign the Governorship because of public interest lawsuits brought against her on alleged ethics violations while she was Governor. She said she didn’t have time to defend herself and also be the Governor. She then launched her present media tour.
After opening a campaign office in
The FBI was investigating the ties lawmakers had to the Veco Corporation, a worldwide oil field services giant. Members of both parties were involved including Republican Senator Ted Stevens and his son Ben Stevens.
Also the public in general was critical of the many State funded junkets Murkowski took using a plane he bought with State money.
She won the primary with fifty one percent of the vote.
In the general election she faced a Democrat , Tony Knowles, a former two term Governor and a former two term State Representative whom she identifies as a liberal and an a wealthy Independent neophyte Andrew Halco. She describes him as effete without saying more except to describe him as generally inexperienced as a political candidate.
Although outspent by Knowles she defeated him by receiving 48.3% to his 40.9% in the votes cast. Her clean government and identity as an outsider coming to clean up corruption even her in own party if need be worked
“DRILL BABY DRILL” WAS HER CAMPAIGN SLOGAN TO PROMOTE MORE ALASKAN OIL PRODUCTION AND JOBS
Her campaign platform was for change. Change in what she saw as corrupt practices in
She alleges in her book that in this way
She raised taxes on oil production by 25% while Governor so every barrel that went to the lower forty eight would cost more to the end user, the working families of
Her campaign chairman was the president of the Wasilla Chamber of Commerce, Kris Perry.
Change, elimination of corruption, lowering taxes and promoting more drilling which would mean more state income and more jobs for working Alaskans was her mantra. Also that the good old boys and their insider deals had to go was part of her mantra.
She alleges she ran a grass roots campaign driving to the small cities and towns while her opponents flew to the major cities. She also mentions the family owned a piper cub aircraft. Why she didn’t use it she does not say but it is presumed it was too small for her, the pilot, and staff members.
Anyway, it maybe a sexy way to cultivate an image as grass roots campaigner but there are not enough people in the smaller towns to elect a Governor so she campaigned in the media and in the larger cities. Also she established a presence on television; the most efficient way to campaign on a State wide basis is by commercials although she says did few political commercials.
However she says she was on many debate platforms with the other candidates and spoke at many functions attended by large crowds this would have been covered by all aspects of the media including television and since she has a charismatic television presence it must have been a major factor in the campaign just as it is now for what ever unannounced goal she may have.
And while she may not have had the support of the Republican Party and its close ally and fund raiser the Alaska Chamber of Commerce in the primary she certainly would have had it in the general election.
She announced her win at the Captain Cook hotel in
Thus she allegedly cultivated grass roots support (code word for ordinary people) to change government, make more it honest, transparent and to throw out the good old boys and there insider deals. However the real muscle for her success was the backing of the Republican Party and their close ally and fund raiser the Alaskan Chamber of Commerce in a traditionally red state. In the 2004 Presidential election George Bush won the state by 60% of the votes cast.
MIKE WOOTEN THE VILLAIN
After resigning from the Alaska Oil Gas Conservation Commission Sarah returned to the tranquility of family life in Wasilla to reflect in January, 2004. The Commission was located in Anchorage, within daily commuting distance from her home, and paid $124,000 a year . This resignation was not without some loss to her financially and politically.
Her sister Molly filed for divorce in 2005 from Mike Wooten a man she married in 2001. While married to Molly Wooten had become a State Trooper after receiving a recommendation from Sarah. This marriage was the second for Molly who also had kids by a prior marriage. Wooten had a family from three prior marriages. Sarah says Wooten tasered his ten year old stepson and screamed that if Molly’s father got a divorce attorney for Molly he’d “’eat a lead bullet’ while wearing his trooper gun belt.” Also she says he shot a moose of out season, he was a drunk and a bad guy because he allegedly took another woman to a convention.
She alleges when his personnel file became public she learned of another dozen or so complaints about him.
What she doesn’t mention is his military service for more than ten years, the fact that he had two children with Molly and the majority of the complaints against him as a trooper were made by Palin, her family and friends or that she wrote letters more than once recommending him for a state trooper position in the first place. Here is one letter she wrote:
“It is my pleasure to provide character reference examples for Mr. Mike Wooten. Since I have become acquainted with Mike I continue to be impressed with his integrity, worthwhile community spirit and trustworthiness…
On a personal note, I have witnessed Mike’s gift of calm and kindness towards many young kids here in Wasilla. I have never seen him raise his voice, nor lose patience, nor become agitated, in the presence of any child. Instead, Mike consistently remains a fine role model for my own children and other young people in Wasilla.
I wish America had more people with the grace and sincerity that mirrors the character of Mike Wooten. We would have a much kinder calmer trustworthy nation as a result.
I believe the United States Air Force has been fortunate to have the services of Mike the past 10 years. His work ethic, his American patriotism, his obvious dedication to traditional values, and his strong faith in God and truth is witnessed in Mike’s everyday living.”–Sarah Palin, Mayor
She doesn’t mention in the letter that he was also her brother in law.
One wonders if she was a great judge of character in the first instance or at the time of divorce. Also Levi Johnston seems to have fallen from grace in the same way. He was living with Bristol in Sarah’s house when their child was conceived yet she says she was unaware they were having sexual relations.
LEVI JOHNSTON The Villain
Now of course we see the bitter child custody suit between Levi, Bristol and the Palin’s with each side going public with derogatory comments much like Wooten’s experience .
The judge who oversaw the Wooten divorce was dumbfounded as to why the Palin’s were set on destroying his ability earn a living (They were trying to have him fired as a trooper at this early date) since he had to support the children he had with Molly as well as his other children. Palin and her family’s vendetta against Wooten continues to the present day.
During this period when she was out of office she alleges she devoted herself to family life but still felt unsettled and unfilled. Yet she describes herself as “not the ambitious type or driven to attain fame or wealth.” This sounds like an oxymoronic statement when compared with her life activities.
However she says that her disaffection with private life was because God had other plans for her. She quotes a passage from the book of Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord ‘Plans for peace and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope. When you call upon Me I shall hear you, When you search for me you will find Me; If you seek Me with all your heart.’”
She alleges that she looked for signs or open doors so she could ascertain God’s plan for her. He had created the passions of her life and He would show her the way by signs to fulfill those passions. This her leads to run for Governor because it was God’s plan for her to be in politics.
Chuck Wooten calls the passages about him in the book” a pack of lies.” One wonders why Sarah didn’t point out Wooten’s years of service to his country or the fact that the step son asked him to Taser him. (Not A good idea under any circumstances).Wooten is not the only person to dispute the veracity passages in the book among whom are Steve Schmidt, campaign advisor and John McCain, runningmate.
Sarah Palin served two terms as Mayor Of Wasilla from 1996 until 2002 when she was termed out. She alleges she ran against the good old boy and politics as usual crowd however records indicate she introduced abortion, gun control, term limits (her opponent was a three term incumbent) issues in a small town race that had heretofore been a more sedate race based on local issues and not hot button issues like abortion and gun control. Wasteful spending and high taxes were other issues. These issues continue to be part of her mantra and that the incumbent politicians are good old boy insiders ( code word for older male incumbents who allegedly resent women in politics.)
Yet three men who were incumbents, John Stein Mayor, Nick Carney, Council member and Irl Stambaugh, Police Chief, endorsed her candidacy in her initial run for city counsel. In that first race she campaigned for a two percent sales tax and for reduction of property and business taxes.
Her endorsements indicate she was in fact a part of the” in “crowd as well as the fact that her mother in law and father in law were also active politically in Wasilla.
She states that her philosophy of carrying out the duties of mayor were to facilitate the building of streets, sewers, water systems and other necessities of a growing city. She was also opposed to restrictive building codes and zoning laws. The city financed the infrastructure improvements with bond measures and earmarked funds from the Federal Government. Because of this and of the sales tax previously passed she lowered property taxes and taxes on business by 75% and this in turn attracted big box stores and Wal-Mart to locate in Wasilla. The effect of this was increased sales tax revenue.
Wasilla’s population was growing as the result of
She also built a sports center with a 15 million bond issue to be financed by a .5 % increase in the sales tax. Using these measures she doubled the long term debt of Wasilla and gave the impression she was reducing taxes and government expenditures however she was either stretching infrastructure payments out over a longer period or getting Federal aide from Senators like Ted Stevens who was celebrated in some circles for his ability to obtain earmarks for Alaska like “the bridge to no where.”
THE FAUSTIAN BARGAIN
What the long term effects of loose building codes and zoning codes will be on the city remains to be seen however more established and experienced cities value building and zoning codes as a means to provide a cleaner, safer habitat for it citizens. Frommer’s Alaska Guide book by Charles Wohlforth, a noted and prize winning author on
In the short term money might be saved on lower government costs for building and zoning departments but the cost of rehabilitating a poorly zoned and constructed city will be much higher in the long run. Also the effects of the oil boom will decrease as time goes by as the flow of oil either decreases or levels off and alternate energy sources are developed.
However the developers, big box stores and Wal-Mart have been the immediate beneficiaries. Also a sales tax is one of the more regressive taxes taking a greater percentage of the income of the poorest citizens and ostensibly those with the least ability to pay. So the tax burden is greater on the poor for the benefit of the rich including businesses like Wal-Mart whose profits go to shareholders living outside of
She also alleges a conversation with the librarian over the nature and placement of books in the public library was blown all out of proportion and that she was trying to make sure certain books would not be placed adjacent to the children’s areas. Others have said she was trying to inject her religious and personal beliefs into the administration of the library and was in fact attempting a form of censorship.
Former Mayor, John Stein, who is pro choice, says right to life groups outside Wasilla were sending out flyers in her behalf and against him in the mayoral race on this issue which was far beyond the true issues of taxation and growth policies in the race.
The librarian was later fired under her tenure as well as the police chief who was opposed to her cost cutting in the police department.
Her term ended when she was thirty eight and she began to look for other opportunities in government. She entered the Republican primary for Lt. Governor against four other Republican opponents. She alleges she was able to raise only $40,000 for the race and the others each spent five times as much as she did. Despite all this she came in a close second. One wonders with all the tax cutting and loose building and zoning laws why she wasn’t able to raise more money from developers and business. Also where was the monetary support from right to life Christian groups in Alaska?
This was in 2002 and Frank Murkowski, an incumbent long term Senator, ran for Governor of Alaska and won. Thus he was able to appoint a successor to his remaining Senate term. Sarah says she was on the short list and interviewed for the appointment. However she says Murkowski felt strongly that the job would take too great a toll on Sarah’s family although she assured him that she would take the family to
In the end Murkowski appointed his daughter Lisa who had two children of her own. She was also was the majority leader designate of the Alaska House of Representatives and so Murkowski may have thought she was the more experienced person for the job despite the charges of nepotism.
However Murkowski did appoint her to the Alaska Oil And Gas Commission which she chaired in 2003 and resigned from in 2004 on grounds that other members of the commission, all Republicans, were unethical.
This is another thread in Palin’s story instead of trying to work with and form a consensus with her political allies she turns on them and says they are good old boys, insiders, unethical or unethical good old boy insiders. This inability to straighten out problems within her own neighborhood or with party members is apparently what she is calling her rogue or independent virtue.
This quality seems to be true in her own family in regard to her ex brother in law who she tried to have fired from the Alaska State Police and now with her public dispute with Levi Johnston, her grandchild’s father. Later we will see this same tendency in regard to the McCain aides.