To put it mildly, John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate raises troubling questions about how far he'll stoop in his quest for the presidency. To begin with, she's virtually unknown outside Alaska. Indeed most Alaskans know little about her because she rose from obscurity to become Governor only 20 months ago. In other words, McCain expects us to embrace his vice presidential choice without our having access to much information about her. He's trying to sell us a pig in a poke.
Furthermore, why would a candidate who has bashed his rival for supposedly insufficient experience on the national stage, select a VP with none at all? Why would a man who praises himself (seemingly alone) for putting his country first, whose physical fitness is in doubt, choose a running mate so dangerously underprepared to take over the presidency? She's arguably the least qualified nominee of a major party, ever. Palin's comments on foreign and domestic policy reveal her to be the lightest of lightweights. Palin makes Dan Quayle look profound by comparison. And to think that in 1972 some people argued that Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm had too little experience to be running for president.
Palin's main political experience, a short tenure as Governor of a small oil-state with a part-time legislature, is quickly turning into a fiasco of scandal after scandal. She's already under investigation for abuse of power in firing a commissioner who refused to fire her brother in law, a police officer. And Palin's earlier career, though murky, doesn't exactly inspire confidence. I've already commented about how she left her small town's finances in terrible shape during her years as mayor of Wasilla, AK. It turns out that her tenure was tumultuous in other ways as well.
In 2006 the Anchorage Daily News published a two-part profile of the career of Sarah Palin, such as it was (h/t xgz). This is revealing in some disturbing ways, particularly the picture of her entry into politics. She comes across as extraordinarily aggressive and confrontational; corrupt; highly partisan (in a mayoral office that was non-partisan); and dismissive of complaints about her behavior. In other words, she appears to have a temperament similar to Dick Cheney's.
For example we see how her Republican friends wielded her religious beliefs to exalt her, denigrating her predecessor (falsely) as a non-Christian. And as soon as she took office as mayor of Wasilla, she began pushing people around:
After turning out the three-term incumbent, Palin brought in an outside attorney, with city funds, to advise on the transition. She asked for resignation letters from six top department heads, saying they'd signed a letter supporting their former boss. She fired two of them -- the police chief and the museum director -- but within a year two others had quit. With the local newspaper, the Frontiersman, upset about the uproar, a citizens group started meeting to discuss a recall of the new mayor. The idea was eventually dropped.
At the time Palin described the mass resignations as a test of loyalty to her administration.
Palin said she made the request for resignations to find out who supports her as mayor.
"Wasilla is moving forward in a positive direction," she said. "This is the time for the department heads to let me know if they plan to move forward or if it's time for a change."
We also see that Palin inserted partisan cronies seemingly without scruple:
Some of Palin's hiring as mayor proved almost as controversial as her firings.
She quickly hired a deputy administrator, reworking the city budget to find money for the $ 50,000-a-year position, which had been empty for several years. Critics said it showed she wasn't up to the job, but Palin defended it as necessary for the fast-growing city.
Critics also noted that the deputy, John Cramer, had been hired from the staff of Sen. Lyda Green, one of the local Republicans who had endorsed Palin in the race. They said it smacked of party patronage.
Similar complaints arose when Palin hired a public works director with no engineering background, Cindy Roberts, who had been a Commerce Department official in the administration for former Gov. Wally Hickel. The wife of longtime Hickel aide Malcolm Roberts, she lasted a year in the job. The city also replaced its longtime attorney with Republican Party attorney Ken Jacobus.
"The day-to-day was beyond her," (Councilman Nick Carney) said, criticizing her hiring of Cramer and her treatment of the incumbent department heads. "It was the barracuda in her that came out, that "Those guys were on the side of (former mayor) John Stein and I'm going to get rid of them." "
She also was dismissive of her critics:
"I went through a lot with the press, with the legislative body, and it was rough with a staff who didn't want to be there working with a new boss," she says.
A number of other disputes flared up and died down in the first year. The Frontiersman, which sparred with Palin frequently at first, accused her of rolling her eyes and making faces at city council meetings when she heard testimony she didn't like.
Actually, the more I think about it, the more Sarah Palin seems to resemble Dick Cheney's chief of staff, David Addington.