Saturday, August 30, 2008

Is Sarah Palin another Monica Goodling?

When John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his VP pick yesterday, two things quickly became apparent: 1) Palin was a purely political choice, an attempt to pander to certain constituencies; and 2) Palin had not been properly vetted. In fact, it is being reported today that McCain made his choice based on a single phone call and a single meeting. Sarah Palin is an almost complete stranger to John McCain, as well as almost every other American.

Sarah Palin was chosen to satisfy at least two constituencies: the religious far right and disaffected Democratic women. Palin's views on social policy are extreme (she would outlaw all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest). Religious right wingers love Sarah Palin: pander accomplished.

McCain's other attempted pander is more problematic. Will disaffected Clinton supporters view Palin as a viable alternative to Hillary Clinton? Thinking women won't, though a bitter, hysterical few may. Sarah Palin opposes nearly everything that Hillary Clinton stands for. McCain's choice could backfire on him if women actually look beyond Palin's gender and examine the policy positions Palin stands for. It remains to be seen whether McCain's attempt to pander to women will succeed, but if it does it will set women back decades.

Even more significant to my mind was the failure of McCain's vetting team to catch the fact that Palin is the target of an ethics investigation into Palin's use of her political office to settle a personal score. Palin's behavior in this respect shows more than a passing resemblence to that of Monica Goodling, who used her position to illegally push a political agenda.

I am speaking here of Wootengate, the allegations that Palin abused her power as Governor of Alaska to seek individual retribution against her former brother-in-law. Palin and her staff circumvented established procedures and sought to have Alaska's Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan fire her former brother-in-law Mike Wooten from his job as an Alaskan State Trooper. Palin took this extrordinary action during Wooten's divorce from her sister at a point in time when he was involved in a custody battle for his children. Palin's actions were evidently aimed at influencing the outcome of that custody battle, wrecking Wooten's career and denying him an income.

Palin and her staff had no less than 27 contacts with Monegan and his staff regarding the Wooten matter: a level of attention that would seem to be disproportionate, were it not Palin's interest in extracting personal vengeance. When Monegan, who was restrained by established policy and procedure, refused to fire Trooper Wooten, Governor Sarah Palin retaliated by firing Monegan. As is so often the case, it is the coverup that is likely to destroy Palin, as is evident from articles like "Bombshell in commissioner controversy":
There is bombshell in the commissioner controversy: after weeks of denying she, or anyone from her office, pressured former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan to fire state trooper Michael Wooten, Wednesday, Governor Sarah Palin had to backtrack.

She admitted a member of her administration had made calls that could be perceived as pressure. On Wednesday afternoon Governor Palin released a recording of a phone call that she says she was just made aware of.
After dismissing Monegan--a pretty obvious case of retaliation--Palin replaced Monegan with Chuck Kopp, the police chief of a small town who had been reprimanded for sexually harassing a female employee. When Kopp's record came to light, Kopp was forced to resign after 11 days on the job. Palin arranged for Kopp to be paid $10,000 in severance. Palin refused to extend the same courtesy to Monegan, and denied him any kind of severance pay after her retaliatory dismissal of him.

Alaska's legislators responded to the scandal by appointing an independent investigator to probe Palin's actions and report on whether they rise to the level of an abuse of power.

So there you have it: retaliatory firing and hiring practices, bungled appointments to key government positions, and special investigations into abuses of power. I think Sarah Palin has more in common with Monica Goodling than Hillary Clinton.

1 comment:

Steve said...

I don't think there is any need to get too jumpy about her. I suspect she is going to be exposed without much help from Democrats.

This should do the old man in.