A recent RealClearPolitics article, which also made its way on to Yahoo news, cited Sarah Palin as one of John McCain's top potential running mates. It was heartwarming to see, but there was one line that really got under my skin, because I hear it far too often and it simply isn't true:
"The problem of course is that Palin is relatively inexperienced and unvetted. While [Governor Bobby] Jindal has gone through the ringer in the circle of Hell known as Louisiana politics, Palin is mostly a question mark."
Now, we get (and successfully refute) the "inexperience" argument all the time. However, this new wrinkle disturbs me because it claims that Jindal, who has not been governor as long as Palin, has been "vetted" by Louisiana's hellish political system, while Palin has had smooth sailing up in Alaska. This is hogwash.
Alaskan politics are very similar to Louisiana politics, and the two states compete for the title of "most corrupt in America". In fact, a serious case can be made that Palin has had to deal with a much more difficult situation than Jindal, who at least enjoys some cooperation from his state Republican Party. So, for the benefit of those who don't think that Sarah Palin has been tested by fire, I've decided to recount a few horror stories from the Great White North. In the coming days, I'll be posting accounts of Sarah's various encounters with the corrupt Alaskan establishment. I'll start with today with Palin's time as Mayor of Wasilla and work my way forward to the present. Stay tuned for the rest of the series.
HORROR STORY #1: The showdown at City Hall (1996).
Having already made enemies on City Council by not rubber-stamping senior members' pet projects (namely a ridiculous law requiring all citizens to purchase service from Councilman Nick Carney's garbage collection service), Councilwoman Palin ousts incumbent Joe Stein in the mayoral election. Councilman Carney personally tells the new mayor that he will do anything he can to make her life difficult, and stonewalls the proceedings to fill two vacant City Council seats. As nominations to the City Council require unanimous approval, Carney personally vetoes every nomination except that of Phillip Lockwood (who he supports, but who does not have the votes to receive the appointment). Mayor Palin responds by threatening to personally appoint new council members if the council cannot reach a decision, and Carney backs off.
Meanwhile Police Chief Irl Stambaugh (a loyalist of Mayor Stein's) makes it clear that he is not pleased with the election of the new mayor, leading to his firing a few months later. Stambaugh then joins Carney and Stein in forming "Concerned Citizens of Wasilla" to push for Palin's removal from office. He also files a lawsuit claiming wrongful termination, contract violation, and (to top off the silliness) gender discrimination. The lawsuit fails, and Concerned Citizens of Wasilla's attempt at a town meeting disintegrates into what the Anchorage Daily News called, "two hours of sometimes raucous debate, occasionally interrupted by an incoherent man in his socks threatening to cue Carr's (a local grocery store) and the the fire marshal." They decide against a recall effort.
(Information taken from the book "Sarah" by Kaylene Johnson.)
So, in rising to the mayorship, Palin had to confront not only Mayor Stein, but also Councilman Carney and Chief Stambaugh. She came through with flying colors and neutralized the entire "good old boys" club in a matter of months.
Next Time on "Horror Stories": The Randy Ruedrich Scandal.