Palin has taken to smearing Obama. But it’s her own record that
continues to yield alarming information, undermining her skills
Sarah Palin has had a lot of ups and downs in her time in the national spotlight. When she was first nominated, the Alaska governor exceeded expectations by successfully reading from a teleprompter at the Republican National Convention. Then, she sat down with CBS’s Katie Couric to disastrous results — disastrous, hilarious or downright frightening, given your point of view. Any way you look at it, Palin’s awful interview with Couric set the bar so low that her embarrassing performance at the vice presidential debate, where she refused to answer the questions and flirtatiously winked at the camera, was deemed a success by many commentators in the corporate media. At least she didn’t vomit on stage, seemed to be the general consensus.
Since the debate, though, Sarah Palin has dropped to new lows. She has maliciously gone after Barack Obama, using hate speech, dog whistles and every inexcusable attack in the book.
But no matter how ridiculous or sensational Palin’s attacks on Obama are, her venomous words cannot hide all the skeletons that keep pouring out of her unvetted closet. And these are the things that should give the American public cause for concern.
1. Palin’s Fearmongering Attacks on Obama
Palin’s attacks on Barack Obama over the past week have been sickening. She has questioned his patriotism and manufactured a bogus association to terrorism. Her hateful rhetoric goes far beyond dirty politics.
Palin is a “demagogue in a skirt,” says Susie Hoeller of the Huffington Post.
“Webster’s Dictionary defines a demagogue as ‘a leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace,’” Hoeller writes. “Governor Palin, in her stump speeches this week, fits this dictionary definition.”
The McCain-Palin campaign has said that it does not condone the use of Obama’s full name, but given that almost everyone who introduces either McCain or Palin at their official rallies is doing just that, many are wondering if it may be an order straight from the campaign.
Jeffrey Feldman goes even further, asking of Palin’s recent hate speech, “Is Palin Trying to Incite Violence Against Obama?“: Palin’s new rhetorical strategy signifies an alarming new development in the 2008 presidential election, and one that has been not only been documented by such high-profile newspapers as the Washington Post, but confirmed by the McCain campaign itself.
“It’s a dangerous road, but we have no choice,” a top McCain strategist recently admitted to the Daily News. “If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we’re going to lose.”
2. Palin Lied About Darfur
During the vice presidential debates, Palin claimed to have helped spearhead a measure protesting genocide in Darfur:
When I and others in the Legislature found out we had some millions of dollars in Sudan … we called for divestment through legislation of those dollars to make sure we weren’t doing anything that would be seen as condoning the activities there in Darfur.
That’s a noble stand to take. Too bad Palin wasn’t the one who took it. Palin’s administration publicly opposed the bipartisan effort to divest Alaskan holdings from Sudan. According to the Washington Post:
During a committee hearing in February, a Palin administration representative, deputy revenue commissioner Brian Andrews, testified against the legislation on the grounds that it would do nothing to help “the afflicted in Sudan,” and would add to the fund’s administrative costs.
Palin officially changed her position in April. But by that time, the bill had died in committee.
3. Sarah Palin Hearts Dick Cheney
During one of her sit-downs with Katie Couric, Palin was asked to name the best and worst things that she thinks Dick Cheney has done as vice president:
Worst thing I guess that would have been the duck-hunting accident — where you know, that was an accident. And I think that was made into a caricature of him. And that was kind of unfortunate.
Kind of unfortunate? He blew a friend’s face off. But that is not the worst thing that Dick Cheney has done while in office, which is saying something. When shooting your friend in the face is low on your list of the worst things you’ve done, you know you’re in trouble.
What does Palin think is the best thing Cheney has done?
He’s shown support, along with George W. Bush, of our troops.
Are you kidding me? The man helped concoct and sell a massive lie to the American people, which ended up placing thousands of U.S. soldiers in harm’s way in an illegal war in Iraq. How does that constitute “support”?
But based on Palin’s remarks in the recent vice presidential debate, it seems her real love for Cheney is based on the power he’s given the position she’s running for. Asked if she believes the “executive branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency” and if it should also be a member of the Legislative branch, Palin replied: “Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we’ll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation.”
Joe Biden responded to the same question: “Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history.”
The fact that Palin doesn’t realize that, and worse, actually applauds the man, is downright scary.
4. Sarah Is a Totally Down-to-Earth American (Who’s Got More Than a Million Bucks)
In these times of financial crisis, many politicians are scrambling to seem like one of the people, folks who understand the hardships of economic struggle. Sarah Palin is no different, except maybe that she isn’t having that hard a time of it. With her roughneck, sea-fishing, moose-hunting Alaskan image, many people don’t find it hard to think of Palin as working-class. And she’s milking that image for all it’s worth by calling herself an “everyday, working-class American.”
Too bad that’s total B.S. The governor of Alaska gets paid $125,000 annually (a paycheck that isn’t exactly working-class), and according to the AP, she and her husband’s combined 2007 income and estimated property and investment values are worth at least $1.2 million:
The Palins’ assets seem enviable: a half-million-dollar home on a lake with a floatplane at the dock, two vacation retreats, commercial fishing rights worth an estimated $50,000 or more and an income last year of at least $230,000. That compares to a median income of $64,333 for Alaskans and $50,740 for Americans in 2007, according to the Census Bureau.
Show me a millionaire who claims to be working-class and I’ll show you a liar. Show me a self-described “working-class” person with a plane, and I’ll show you somebody with burning pants.
5. Palin Doesn’t Like to Pay Taxes
Republicans love to whip up the GOP faithful by railing against taxes. At last week’s vice presidential debate, Palin attacked Biden because earlier he had dared to suggest that in a time of national crisis, the very least we could do for our country is pay our damn taxes.
You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. … In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic.
Here’s one case of Republicans practicing what they preach: The Palins’ tax records, released last week, reveal that the first family used a variety of creative loopholes to get out of paying much of their taxes. According to the New York Times:
One big issue that tax attorneys are pointing to is the fact that the Palins did not report as income the $43,490 that the state gave the family to cover travel expenses for Mr. Palin and the Palin children. Had the Palins reported these payments as income, the couple would have had to pay taxes on it.
The Palins also deducted expenses incurred from Todd’s snowmobiling, claiming it as a business:
The Palins deducted $9,000 in business losses from snowmobiling. This tax loss would not be allowed if the activity is a hobby. The IRS rule is that if an activity produces a profit in three of the past five years, is a businesses and not a hobby. But the Palins released tax returns for only two years, so it is impossible to tell. One year showed a $9,000 loss, the other year a slight profit.
6. First Dude Had Extraordinary Power in Palin’s Administration
Last time we checked, “First Dude of Alaska” was not an official government post. But you wouldn’t know it from recent revelations that Todd Palin had an extraordinary amount of access and pull with top Alaskan officials. What did the first dude do with his (unconstitutional) power? He campaigned to get his former brother-in-law, state trooper Mike Wooten, fired.
As the Times Online UK reports:
Sarah Palin’s husband campaigned for years to help get his former brother-in-law kicked off the state police force, newly released affidavits show.
The documents were released as part of the so-called Troopergate Scandal, in which it is alleged the Republican vice presidential nominee abused her position as governor of Alaska to settle a long-standing family feud.
Walter Monegan, Alaska’s public safety commissioner, says he was dismissed by Mrs. Palin, after refusing to fire Mike Wooten, a trooper involved in a bitter divorce and child custody battle with her sister.
No doubt, the intent here is to divest Sarah Palin of responsibility by having her claim ignorance and pinning the blame on someone else. Reagan would be proud.
7. “Wink! Wink! I’m Not Answering Your Questions!”
When Palin managed to make it through most of the vice presidential debate without looking like a scared deer, conservatives rejoiced. Many commentators even praised Palin for her ability to connect with voters through her folksy gestures and language. It’s unclear whether Palin’s winks and dropped “g”s resonated with voters. But as Michelle Goldberg at the Guardian points out, any other candidate would have been eviscerated in the media for acting the way Palin did:
Had a male candidate with a similar reputation for attractive vapidity made such a brazen attempt to flirt his way into the good graces of the voting public, it would have been universally noted, discussed and mocked.
One also wonders what conservatives would have said had Hillary Clinton brazenly tried to get out of answering debate questions by flirting.
8. “Look! I Can See Russia!”
In her first interview on the national stage, Palin claimed, with a straight face, that she was qualified to make complex foreign policy decisions because she could “see Russia from Alaska.”
Lots of people in the McCain campaign, also with straight faces, echoed Palin’s claim that Alaska’s proximity to Russia gave her an adequate understanding of international affairs.
Here’s a fun coda to one of the McCain campaign’s most embarrassing ploys to whitewash Palin’s inexperience: It turns out that Palin has never actually seen Russia from Alaska. The only place in Alaska from which Russia is visible is an island called Little Diomede — an economically depressed town with a 40 percent poverty rate that Palin has never, ever visited.
Unlike Palin, CNN’s Gary Tuchman went to the island, where he interviewed townspeople who had barely heard of the Alaska governor. Here’s the video:
As Jed Lewison at the Huffington Post writes, it’s going to be “fun watching Tina Fey parody it.”
9. Palin’s Foreign Policy Experience: About 20 Meetings for About 12 Hours
Speaking of Russia and foreign policy cred, Sarah “I want to be one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency” Palin insists that there are other things, aside from Russia’s proximity, that give her experience in the field. There have been trade missions with Russia and many other interactions with foreign governments, thanks to Alaska’s shared border with Canada. While speaking with Katie Couric, she said, “We have trade missions back and forth. We — we do — it’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia.”
David Corn over at Mother Jones used, well, facts straight out of Palin’s own governor’s schedule to paint a different picture:
… the calendars tracking Palin’s official meetings during her tenure as governor contain not one listing indicating she ever met with a Russian official. In fact, the 562 pages of her daily schedules — obtained by Mother Jones under Alaska’s Open Records Act — indicate that Palin had few meetings at all with any foreign representatives and rarely dealt with any topic related to foreign policy. The schedules include about 20 meetings, events, or phone calls in which Palin interacted with foreign officials. And in many instances, these interactions were cursory or ceremonial and did not involve policy details.
According to the schedules released, Palin spent roughly 12 hours over the course of 19 months on these meetings. (This doesn’t count what happened during a four-day trip she took to Kuwait to visit members of the Alaska National Guard. The schedules for those days do not detail whom she met.) The calendars show no meetings between her and a trade delegation from any nation.
Maybe Palin has a different definition of the word “experience” than the rest of us. Here is the full list from Palin’s schedule.
10. Palin Used Oil Industry-Funded Scientists for a Global Warming Study Against Polar Bears
As everyone now knows, Sarah Palin is not exactly on board with the rest of the world when it comes to the basic science behind global warming. Well, now we know why: She’s getting her numbers from a rather shady source.
The Guardian recently published a story about how the Alaskan governor came to the conclusion that global warming did not pose a threat to polar bears. Apparently, she relied heavily on global warming deniers funded by Exxon Mobil and other oil insiders for a study by the Alaskan state government.
As the article says:
Her own Alaskan review of the science drew on a joint paper by seven authors, four of whom were well-known climate change contrarians. Her paper argued that it was “certainly premature, if not impossible” to link temperature rise in Alaska with human CO2 emissions.
I guess she must have missed the world’s leading scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change coming to a consensus on that one already.
Why is this a big deal? From the Guardian again:
The status of the polar bear has become a battleground in the debate on global warming. In May the U.S. Department of the Interior rejected Palin’s objections and listed the bear as a threatened species, saying that two-thirds of the world’s polar bears were likely to be extinct by 2050 due to the rapid melting of the sea ice. Palin, governor of Alaska and the Republican nominee for U.S. vice president, responded last month by suing the federal government to try to overturn the ruling. The case will be heard in January.
What’s at stake, of course, is money. Oil money, that is.
In its lawsuit, Alaska said it opposed the endangered label partly because the listing would “deter activities such as … oil and gas exploration and development.” Oil companies recently bid $2.7bn (�1.5bn) for rights to explore the Chukchi Sea, an established polar bear habitat.
Hmmm, choosing what’s good for big business, not for America or the environment. Wonder if the McCain-Palin campaign will put that in its next ad.
11. Palin Thinks Being Gay Is a Choice
In one of her many embarrassing interviews with Katie Couric, Palin made it clear that, though she doesn’t judge, she thinks being gay is a choice:
I have, one of my absolute best friends for the last 30 years who happens to be gay. And I love her dearly. And she is not my “gay friend.” She is one of my best friends who happens to have made a choice that isn’t a choice that I have made. But I am not gonna judge people. And I love America where we are more tolerant than other countries are. And are more accepting of some of these choices that sometimes people want to believe reflects solely on an individual’s values or not. Homosexuality, I am not gonna judge people.
Here’s the video:
Sorry, Sarah, but just like your views on global warming, that nasty little thing called science isn’t on your side. Amanda Terkel at Think Progress notes:
Homosexuality is not a choice, as all major mainstream medical and mental health professional organizations have concluded.
According to the American Psychological Association, “Most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” Also, despite saying that she won’t “judge” gay people, she backed a state constitutional ban to deny spousal benefits to the same-sex partners of public employees.
But good for you Sarah, for that one gay friend you’ve got that you totally don’t judge.
12. The Rape Kit Story: Not Getting the Media Attention It Deserves
OK, we’ve reported on the rape kit story before, so it’s not exactly a revelation, but the fact still stands that this is a terrible story that deserves more attention, especially given very recent developments. Eric Boehlert over at Media Matters has discredited the claim (used as an excuse by many media outlets not to report on the story) that Palin’s rape kit story has been, well, discredited:
Writing for the Huffington Post’s Off the Bus, and crossposting at Daily Kos, (Jacob Alperin-Sheriff, a 20-year-old blogger and junior at George Washington University) posted by far the most specific and factual analysis of the rape kit story in terms of Palin’s role as mayor and the final say she had over the budget.
Combing through Wasilla’s budgetary documents, which are posted online, Alperin-Sheriff showed that Palin had clearly signed off on a fiscal-year budget that reduced by three-quarters the amount of money the town set aside annually for rape-kit costs and that the rape-kit reduction was spelled out before the fiscal-year 2000 budget was approved by Mayor Sarah Palin on April 26, 1999.
And yet the corporate media says nothing. Of course, perhaps if Palin offered a little more access to the media, they’d be able to ask more questions about this disturbing fact. Until then, there are many in the independent media, like the filmmakers at the Wasilla Project, who are asking: If someone’s home is burglarized, the tools of investigation are not paid for by the victim; why was rape considered different in Wasilla?