Politics Palin Style: Woo Them, Then Leave Them
David Talbot in Salon today explores Gov. Sarah Palin's style of politics in Alaska.
According to some political observers in Alaska, this pattern -- exploiting "old-boy" mentors and then turning against them for her own advantage -- defines Sarah Palin's rise to power. Again and again, Palin has charmed powerful political patrons, and then rejected them when it suited her purposes. She has crafted a public image as a clean politics reformer, but in truth, she has only blown the whistle on political corruption when it was expedient for her to do so. Above all, Palin is a dynamo of ambition, shrewdly maneuvering her way through the notoriously compromised world of Alaska politics, making and breaking alliances along the way.
The article begins with the story of Palin and her former friend and Mayor of Wasilia, Ben Stein, and what she did to unseat him in 1996.
John Stein had helped launch Palin's political career, mentoring the hockey mom during her 1994 run for City Council, along with veteran council member Nick Carney. Stein's wife, Karen Marie, went to aerobics classes with Palin.
....The Wasilla mayor's seat is nonpartisan, and Mayor Stein, a former city planner who had held the post for nine years, ran a businesslike campaign that stressed his experience and competency. But Palin ignited the traditionally low-key race with scorching social issues, injecting "God, guns and abortion into the race -- things that had nothing to do with being mayor of a small town," according to Tigner.
Even though Palin knew that Stein is a Protestant Christian, from a Pennsylvania Dutch background, her campaign began circulating the word that she would be "Wasilla's first Christian mayor." Some of Stein's supporters interpreted this as an attempt to portray Stein as Jewish in the heavily evangelical community. Stein himself, an eminently reasonable and reflective man, thinks "they were redefining Christianity to mean born-agains."
The Palin campaign also started another vicious whisper campaign, spreading the word that Stein and his wife -- who had chosen to keep her own last name when they were married -- were not legally wed. Again, Palin knew the truth, Stein said, but chose to muddy the waters. "We actually had to produce our marriage certificate," recalled Stein, whose wife died of breast cancer in 2005 without ever reconciling with Palin.
"I had a hand in creating Sarah, but in the end she blew me out of the water," Stein said, sounding more wearily ironic than bitter. "Sarah's on a mission, she's an opportunist."
Then there's the story of how she turned her back on Alaska state Rep. Victor Kohring:
"After Vic's indictment, she didn't give him the time of day," said James. "She never went to him personally and asked if the charges were true. This is a man who helped her get started in government. She turned her back on him well before he even went on trial. Vic resents the hell out of that. He thinks she's an opportunist, pure and simple. She saw how the press were moving on Vic, and even before he had his day in court, she called on him to resign his office. He regarded that as a great insult, a personal betrayal."
And on her shaking up the old boys network? A fantasy. Consider the case of Randy Ruedrich:
Palin's reputation as a reformer stems primarily from her headline-grabbing ouster of state GOP chairman Randy Ruedrich from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for flagrant conflict-of-interest abuses. At the time, Palin was heralded in the press as a whistle-blower, but it was later revealed that she was guilty of the same charge that she had brought against Ruedrich -- using state office equipment for partisan political business. (While still mayor of Wasilla, she sent out campaign fundraising appeals from her office during her race for lieutenant governor.)
The idea that Sarah shook up the state's old-boy network is one big fantasy, it's complete bullsh*t," [Andrew]Halcro said. "She got all this public acclaim for throwing people who backed her under the bus -- but she only did it after they became expendable, when she no longer needed them.
...."The good old boys in Alaska are still the good old boys -- they're alive and kicking. Randy is still running the Republican Party -- he wasn't happy about being turned into a national poster boy for corruption, but he went along with the program. Ted Stevens is still running for reelection. And [scandal-tainted Alaska Rep.] Don Young is, too. So where's the new era of change that Palin supposedly brought to Alaska?"
Hat tip to KagroX who adds:
The whole article lays out the case that Palin's political life has a very distinct pattern to it: cozy up to the power structure, then stab her mentors in the back for political profit.
Hopefully, Palin will be back in Alaska in 45 days, instead of saddling the rest of us with her opportunism, her distortions, her extremism and her lack of preparedness to lead.
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