Of All the Reasons McCain's Palin Pick Is Awful, Evidence of Her Abuse of Power Is the Worst
There are many reasons why most Americans should be turned off by
Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s last-minute choice of
Sarah Palin as his running mate.
She’s an evangelical Christian who believes in creationism and
thinks this fantasy belongs in the school science curriculum alongside
evolution. She’s opposed to the right to abortion. She thinks global
warming is not a proven phenomenon. She favors drilling for oil in the
Arctic Refuge and damn the environmental consequences. This supposedly
family-centered “hockey mom “is happy about sending her 18-year-old son
off to war in Iraq, even as Iraq is trying to shoo us out of the
country and even as the president is tacitly admitting that the whole
thing is a bust by agreeing to a timetable for withdrawal.
But the real reason Palin, the former mayor of little Wasilla,
Alaska (pop. 5000 when she was there) and two-year governor of Alaska,
is a disastrous pick for the vice presidency on a ticket headed by an
ailing 72-year-old presidential candidate who has suffered two bouts of
melanoma and who is showing early signs of dementia, is the evidence
that she has abused power as governor.
We’ve had eight years of a president and vice president who have
abused their executive power, using the awesome capabilities of the
state to spy on Americans, inserting fake news in the media, pressuring
news organizations not to run important stories, silencing protests by
penning in all critics in remote “free speech” zones, attacking
individual critics with White House-directed campaigns that border on
treason, as in the case of the outing of CIA undercover operative
Valerie Plame, whose husband had criticized a Bush argument for
invading Iraq, and threatening government scientists who wanted to
report their legitimate findings on climate change.
We have seen over these past eight years just what abuse of power can do to destroy democratic government and a free society.
So now we have Gov. Palin, whom evidence suggests may have abused
her power as governor of Alaska to fire the state’s public security
director after he blocked her efforts to destroy the career of a
low-level state trooper who happened to be her former brother-in-law,
because she wanted to avenge a sister engaged in an ugly post-divorce
Published allegations would show that both Gov. Palin’s husband
Todd Palin, and members of her staff, repeatedly called and harangued
state Public Safety Director Walt Monegan, who says he was “pressured”
to fire the brother-in-law, Officer Mike Wooten. The Palins have
charged that Wooten drank beer in his patrol car, hunted moose
illegally and that he once fired his taser at his 11-year-old step
son—charges that Wooten has denied. They have also claimed that Wooten
threatened Sarah Palin’s father—also denied by Wooten.
Also interesting—the charges that were made against Wooten were for
things that he allegedly did years before, and for which, where
appropriate, he had already been disciplined or exonerated by his
employer. That taser incident, if it happened, was when the stepson was
11. The boy, now 17, reportedly lives these days with the allegedly
trigger-happy step dad. The alleged beer and hunting incidents also
predate the divorce, which raises questions of why, if those charges
warranted Wooten’s firing from the police force, the supposedly
ethics-obsessed Palin would not have raised them back at the time with
Palin has improbably denied that she had “anything to do with” her
husband’s calls to Monegan. She subsequently fired Monegan and got his
successor to fire her sister’s ex from the police force. (Her pick to
replace Monegan is being accused of sexual harassment!).
The Republican state legislature has voted $100,000 to fund an
independent investigation into the abuse of power charges against
Palin, and there is talk of a possible impeachment proceeding, too.
Palin has denied that she did anything wrong. The investigation, which
is expected to take three months to complete, will drag on through the
entire presidential election campaign.
One thing is clear: Whatever Palin’s troglodyte social and
political views, Americans don’t need another vice president who views
public office as an opportunity to abuse his or her power for personal
or political vendettas.
The other thing that is clear in all this is that McCain, who is
running for president in part on a claim of competence, has certainly
demonstrated a lack of same in his naming of Palin, whom he reportedly
only decided on this past week and after only speaking with her last
Sunday by phone. (His campaign says he also met her once briefly last
February at a state governors’ convention in Washington.)
The Alaskan “troopergate” abuse of power scandal, which will now
play out through the coming weeks, clearly was not vetted by McCain and
his staff, and no doubt will turn off a lot of one natural Republican
constituency: law enforcement officers, who expect to have any charges
leveled against them handled by due process.
If even some of the charges against Palin are true, her actions
should make her unfit for the office of vice president, particularly on
the ticket with a man who is pushing the actuarial envelope in running
DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His
latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and
now available in paperback edition). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net