Monday, July 13, 2009

Sarah Palin – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

[ADHD WARNING: This is a LONG post & the good stuff is at the end]

Following the ‘disjointed rambling’ that was her 2,700+ word resignation speech, I took the time to sit down & thoroughly research the history of Sarah Palin. Being a fellow Republican (dude, where’s my party?) and a Scientist (I neither thump nor burn books, I read them) – I thought I would try to be as fair as possible in presenting a picture of this person whom has been a lightning rod for attention for the last two years.

From that, I give you the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Sarah Palin. The Good reflects the hard-earned accomplishments of someone who has worked hard & deserves to be proud. The Bad reflects poor decisions and failures – and to be fair who doesn’t make those – but that which one should be regretful about and learn from. The Ugly however is that which is neither to be forgotten nor forgiven and what makes this politician truly dangerous and a shameful embarrassment to Alaska and America.

Many of the events listed in one section end up reappearing in another section – so I have attempted to link these with footnote references.

Full disclosure – I did not vote for McCain in the last election. I did vote for him in favor of Bush in the 2000 New York Primary.


  • Elected twice to the city council of Wasilla, in 1992 and 1995 & was a member of from 1992 to 19961
  • Served two terms (1996–2002) as the mayor of Wasilla
  • First female governor of Alaska
  • Youngest person elected governor of Alaska
  • First Alaskan candidate of either major party on a national ticket2
  • First female vice-presidential nominee of the Republican Party2
  • Head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter at the school3
  • Captain and point guard of the school's girls' basketball team that won the Alaska state championship in 1982
  • Winner of the Miss Wasilla Pageant in 19843
  • Finished third in the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant, which earned her a college scholarship4 and the "Miss Congeniality" award
  • Returned to the University of Idaho in January 1986, where she spent three semesters completing her bachelor's degree in communications-journalism, graduating in May 1987 4
  • During her first year in office, Palin kept a jar with the names of Wasilla residents on her desk, and once a week she pulled a name from it and picked up the phone; she would ask: "How's the city doing?" Using income generated by a 2% sales tax that was enacted before she was elected to the city council, Palin cut property taxes by 75% and eliminated personal property and business inventory taxes
  • Elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.
  • Chaired the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from 2003 to 2004
  • After resigning from the AO&GCC, Palin filed a formal complaint against Oil and Gas Conservation Commissioner Randy Ruedrich, also the chair of the state Republican Party, accusing him of doing work for the party on public time and of working closely with a company he was supposed to be regulating
  • She also joined with Democratic legislator Eric Croft to file a complaint against Gregg Renkes, a former Alaskan Attorney General, accusing him of having a financial conflict of interest in negotiating a coal exporting trade agreement, while Renkes was the subject of investigation and after records suggesting a possible conflict of interest had been released to the public. Ruedrich and Renkes both resigned and Ruedrich paid a record $12,000 fine.
  • Palin followed through on a campaign promise to sell the Westwind II jet, a purchase made by the Murkowski administration for $2.7 million in 2005 against the wishes of the legislature.
  • In December 2008, an Alaska state commission recommended increasing the Governor's annual salary from $125,000 to $150,000. Palin stated that she would not accept the pay raise. In response, the commission dropped the recommendation
  • Helped in her husband’s commercial fishing business7 [This isn't all that he does however]


  • Unsuccessful campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Alaska in 2002
  • Republican Party's vice-presidential nominee for the 2008 United States presidential election2
  • Announced that she will not be a candidate for re-election in 2010 and that she would resign the Office of Governor effective July 26, 2009
  • Enrolled at Hawaii Pacific College in Honolulu. She left after one semester 4
  • Transferred to North Idaho College, a community college in Coeur d'Alene and spent two semesters as a general studies major in 1983 4
  • August 1984, she transferred to the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho 4
  • After two semesters at UI, Palin returned to Alaska and attended Matanuska-Susitna College, a community college in Palmer, for one term in the fall of 1985 4
  • Did not complete her second term on the city council because she ran for mayor in 19961
  • The first governor not to be inaugurated in Juneau; she chose to have the ceremony held in Fairbanks instead. 6
  • Palin promoted oil and natural gas resource development in Alaska, including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge(ANWR).
  • In 2006, Palin obtained a passport and in 2007 traveled for the first time outside of North America on a trip to Kuwait. [She was the only Vice Presidental candidate in history to have never met a foreign head of state. That she never even travelled out of the USA at all prior to 2007 is shameful for someone whom would potentially preside over foreign policy matters]
  • In June 2007, Palin signed a record $6.6 billion operating budget into law. At the same time, she used her veto power to make the second-largest cuts of the construction budget in state history. The $237 million in cuts represented over 300 local projects, and reduced the construction budget to $1.6 billion. In 2008, Palin vetoed $286 million, cutting or reducing funding for 350 projects from the FY09 capital budget.
  • Palin also joined with nearby communities in jointly hiring the Anchorage-based lobbying firm of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh to lobby for federal funds. The firm secured nearly $8 million in earmarked funds for the Wasilla city government. Earmarks included $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, and $900,000 for sewer repairs.
    However in 2008 Alaska was still the largest per-capita recipient of federal
    earmarks, requesting nearly $750 million in special federal spending over a period of two years
  • She opposes same-sex marriage and supported a non-binding referendum for an Alaskan constitutional amendment to deny state health benefits to same-sex couples 3
  • Palin has called herself "as pro-life as any candidate can be" and has called abortion an "atrocity." 3
  • Palin has stated that abortion should be banned in nearly all cases, including rape and incest, except if the life of the mother is endangered.3
  • Palin has stated that she does not support embryonic stem cell research. 3
  • Governor Murkowski appointed Palin to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. She chaired the Commission beginning in 2003, serving as Ethics Supervisor. Palin resigned in January 2004, protesting what she called the "lack of ethics" of fellow Republican members.5


  • She promoted an effort to de-list the polar bear as an endangered species, since this could hinder oil searching 7
  • In 2007, Palin supported a 2003 Alaska Department of Fish and Game policy allowing the hunting of wolves from the air as part of a predator control program intended to increase moose and caribou populations for subsistence-food gatherers and other hunters. In March 2007, Palin's office announced that a bounty of $150 per wolf would be paid to the 180 volunteer pilots and gunners, to offset fuel costs, in five areas of Alaska. Six-hundred-and-seven wolves had been killed in the prior four years. State biologists wanted 382 to 664 wolves killed by the end of the predator-control season in April 2007. Wildlife activists sued the state, and a state judge declared the bounty illegal on the basis that a bounty would have to be offered by the Board of Game and not by the Department of Fish and Game.7
  • Palin stated in 2006 that she would not allow her personal religious beliefs to dictate her political positions3
  • Her father, Charles R. Heath, was a science teacher
  • Member of the girls' cross country team [her father was the coach]3
  • 1988, she worked as a sports reporter for KTUU-TV and KTVA-TV in Anchorage 3
  • Worked at the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman as a sports reporter [You wonder where all the sports metaphors come from?] 3
  • On the City council, she successfully opposed a measure to curtail the hours at Wasilla's bars by two hours. This surprised her opponent Hartrick because she was then a member of a church that advocated abstinence from alcohol. [I actually agree with her legal stance but it is the hipocrisy that raises questions. She clearly cherry picks where to apply Beliefs to the Law] 3
  • She introduced abortion, gun rights, and term limits as campaign issues [i.e. these were not issues Alaskans based their votes on previously - Wedge Stratregy anyone?]
  • Shortly after taking office in October 1996, Palin consolidated the position of museum director and asked for updated resumes and resignation letters from some top officials, including the police chief, public works director, finance director, and librarian & stated this request was to find out their intentions and whether they supported her 6
  • As Mayor she temporarily required department heads to get her approval before talking to reporters, saying that they first needed to become acquainted with her administration's policies 6
  • As Mayor she created the position of city administrator
  • Reduced her own $68,000 salary by 10%, although by mid-1998 this was reversed by the city council [An obvious and clumbsy PR stunt]
  • According to Wasilla librarian Mary Ellen Emmons, Mayor Palin inquired two or three times in October 1996 as to how Emmons would handle any request to remove books from the library 3 6
  • Palin fired Emmons and Police Chief Irl Stambaugh in January 1997, stating that she did not feel they fully supported her efforts to govern the city. The next day, following expressions of public support for Emmons and a personal meeting, Palin rescinded the firing of Emmons, stating that her concerns had been alleviated, and adding that Emmons agreed to support Palin's plan to merge the town's library and museum operations.Stambaugh, who along with Emmons had supported Palin's opponent in the election, filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination, violation of his contract, and gender discrimination. In the trial, the defense alleged political reasons; Stambaugh said that he had opposed a gun control bill, Alaska HB 270, that Palin supported. The federal judge said in the decision that the police chief serves at the discretion of the mayor, and can be terminated for nearly any reason, even a political one, and dismissed Stambaugh's lawsuit ordering Stambaugh to pay Palin's legal fees.6
  • Using municipal bonds, she made improvements to the roads and sewers, and increased funding to the Police Department.She also oversaw new bike paths and procured funding for storm-water treatment to protect freshwater resources.At the same time, the city reduced spending on the town museum and stopped construction of a new library and city hall.
  • During her second term as mayor, Palin introduced a ballot measure proposing the construction of a municipal sports center3 to be financed by a 0.5% sales tax increase. The $14.7 million Wasilla Multi-Use Sports Complex3 was built on time and under budget, but the city spent an additional $1.3 million because of an eminent domain lawsuit caused by the failure to obtain clear title to the property before beginning construction.The city's long-term debt grew from about $1 million to $25 million through voter-approved indebtedness of $15 million for the sports complex, $5.5 million for street projects, and $3 million for water improvement projects. A city council member defended the spending increases as being caused by the city's growth during that time.

  • In 2004, Palin told the Anchorage Daily News that she had decided not to run for the U.S. Senate that year, against the Republican incumbent, Lisa Murkowski, because her teenage son opposed it. Palin said, "How could I be the team mom if I was a U.S. Senator?" [Really? She took career advice from her teenaged child?]
  • In 2008, as a vice-presidential candidate, Palin characterized her position as having told Congress "thanks, but no thanks, on that bridge to nowhere." This angered some Alaskans in Ketchikan, who said that the claim was false and a betrayal of Palin's previous support for their community. Some critics complained that this statement was misleading, since she had expressed support for the spending project and kept the Federal money after the project was canceled.
  • In August 2008, Palin signed a bill authorizing the State of Alaska to award TransCanada Pipelines — the sole bidder to meet the state's requirements — a license to build and operate a pipeline to transport natural gas from the North Slope to the Continental United States through Canada.The governor also pledged $500 million in seed money to support the project.It is estimated that the project will cost $26 billion. Newsweek described the project as "the principal achievement of Sarah Palin's term as Alaska's governor."
  • Palin dismissed Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan on July 11, 2008, citing performance-related issues, such as not being "a team player on budgeting issues." Monegan said that he had resisted persistent pressure from the Governor, her husband, and her staff, including State Attorney General Talis Colberg, to fire Palin’s ex-brother-in-law, state trooper Mike Wooten; Wooten was involved in a child custody battle with Palin’s sister that included an alleged death threat against Palin's father.6
  • She placed an aide on paid leave due to one tape-recorded phone conversation that she deemed improper, in which the aide appeared to be acting on her behalf and complained to a trooper that Wooten had not been fired.6
  • On September 1, Palin asked the legislature to drop its investigation, saying that the state Personnel Board had jurisdiction over ethics issues. The Personnel Board's three members were first appointed by Palin’s predecessor, and Palin reappointed one member in 2008. On September 19, the Governor's husband and several state employees refused to honor subpoenas, the validity of which were disputed by Talis Colberg, Palin's appointee as Alaska's Attorney General. On October 2, a court rejected Colberg's challenge to the subpoenas, and seven of the witnesses, not including Sarah and Todd Palin, eventually testified
  • On July 4, 2009, Palin's attorney issued a statement threatening bloggers and news organizations with potential defamation lawsuits for spreading rumors about criminal behavior by Palin as if the rumors were fact.6
  • Todd Palin works for the British oil company BP as an oil-field production operator7 and owns a commercial fishing business
  • Palin described herself in an interview as a "Bible-believing Christian." After the Republican National Convention, a spokesperson for the McCain campaign told CNN that Palin "doesn't consider herself Pentecostal" and has "deep religious convictions." 3
  • In a 2006 gubernatorial debate, responding to a question asking the candidates whether they would support teaching creationism in public schools, Palin stated that she supported teaching both creationism and evolution. Shortly after that debate, Palin said in an interview that she meant she supports allowing the discussion of creationism in public schools3, but says it does not have to be part of the curriculum. She supports sex education in public schools that encourages abstinence but also discusses birth control. 3
  • On global warming, Palin has said that "a changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made."7
  • Regarding foreign policy, Palin supported the Bush Administration's policies in Iraq, but is concerned that "dependence on foreign energy" may be obstructing efforts to "have an exit plan in place"7
  • Palin supports preemptive military action in the face of an imminent threat, and supports U.S. military operations in Pakistan. She declined to give a yes or no answer regarding whether U.S. military forces should make cross-border attacks into Pakistan without the approval of the Pakistani government.

Commentary, linking topics:

1 She failed to complete her 2nd term

2 Arguably she was a major cause of the lost election. It is widely held on both sides of the political arena that they should have declined the nomination.

3 The agenda of the Fellowship of Christian Atheletes is to promote religion through sports. Her subsequent sports-centered career and religious overtones are arguably an extension of this early-adopted agenda. This clashes however with her declaration in 2006 that she would not allow her religious beliefs to dictate her policies

4 This is one of the oft-cited 'quitter' moves where it took several attempts for her to complete her degree.

5 These are incidents where the "quitter" label applies. There is a pattern of "cut and run" behaviour when she finds herself in an underdog scenario, unable to run the show and win admiration.

6 These are cases where her heavy-handed need to control public perception has overriden her ability to govern properly

7 Does anyone else perceive Conflicts of Interests in these, or is just me?


Matthew Tripp said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gregor42 said...

I deleted Matthew's Comment because it was not a comment - it was spam. I bothered to explain my actions and to link to his blog - which is what I think he wanted - so maybe he'll go away now & not come back without something to say other than copying & pasting a lot of disjointed text together and calling it a blog entry.

Seriously - did someone hack your account or something?