WTF? Sarah Palin's performance during a surprise press conference on July 3 has left many observers baffled, and caused others to speculate that more surprises may come.
Sarah vs. the Blogosphere
Gov. Palin's surprise decision was in fact typical—when things get tough, she backs down
By Geoffrey Dunn
IT'S BEEN a helluva Independence Day weekend in the Last Frontier. Wow! First the Governor resigns (I had her nearly incoherent speech translated into English to make sure this was confirmed), then she allows no questions, no open media coverage, provides no serious explanation (save for basketball metaphors) and expects no one to wonder why in the world she would step down from the governorship, which is the only platform from which she can claim any political legitimacy.
Palin has absolutely zero interest in running the state of Alaska. She steadfastly refused to live in Juneau after her first year there, had the gall to charge the state for residing at her home in Wasilla 600 miles away (there's a new ethics allegation on its way) and basically mailed in her performance as the state's top administrator during Alaska's most recent legislative session. She alienated virtually all the key legislators in her own party—Republicans—and had failed to move any key legislation forward since her return to Alaska from the national campaign trail last November.
Her bizarre appointment for attorney general, Wayne Anthony Ross, was rejected nearly unanimously by the state Legislature—a first in Alaskan history. Even in respect to energy policy, her supposed bailiwick, she has been categorically ineffective. When I asked those in-the-know what role Palin had played in putting together the recent pipeline deal between TransCanada and Exxon, their response was simple: "None."
And just when you think it can't get any weirder—the trailer trash revelations of Troopergate; the McCain camp calling her a "whack job from Wasilla"; the turkeys being slaughtered in the background; her on-again, off-again attendance at GOP fundraisers, her unexplained resignation—then Palin's attorney sends out a press release. It's a full-fledged assault on the First Amendment. He's threatening to sue the indomitable Shannyn Moore, HuffPo, The New York Times, the Washington Post and half the Internet for speculating as to the real reasons that Palin stepped down from governor.
In the end, there were only two possible explanations: (1) that there was some sort of bombshell about to explode; or (2) that Palin did such a wretched job as governor that she couldn't do anything but quit.
Van Flein is telling us it's Door No. 2. "[S]everal unscrupulous people have asserted false and defamatory allegations that the 'real' reasons for Governor Palin's resignation stem from an alleged criminal investigation pertaining to the construction of the Wasilla Sports Complex. This canard was first floated by Democrat operatives in September 2008 during the national campaign and followed up by sympathetic Democratic writers."
Then came the assault on free speech: "To the extent several websites, most notably liberal Alaska blogger Shannyn Moore, are now claiming as 'fact' that Governor Palin resigned because she is 'under federal investigation' for embezzlement or other criminal wrongdoing, we will be exploring legal options this week to address such defamation."
No one has claimed anything as fact. What radio host and blogger Moore and others, including myself, reported was that there were rumors of a pending investigation. The rumors have been circulating everywhere. Why? Van Flein tells us the answer:
"Wayne Barrett, a writer for the left wing Village Voice, published these insinuations, on October 7, 2008 in a story entitled 'The Book of Sarah.' This was written in the style of one pretending to be amazed that so many people in a small town like Wasilla appear to know one another, support one another, and take on big projects together. Apparently that is uncommon in New York. Rather than recognize that leaders of a community often mobilize to accomplish projects, the writer offered this up as an unusual and questionable association of special interests."
Van Flein then reminds us that Palin played politics on the Sports Arena project as well. Just as she's always done.
"In addition, Sarah Palin was then criticized by some of [sic] not showing enough interest in the project. The Frontiersman reported that at a public meeting with the Chamber of Commerce, an opponent of the project 'accused Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin of staying quiet about the arena because of her campaign for Lieutenant Governor.'"
That would be the campaign for lieutenant governor where Palin was later caught using city of Wasilla resources to run her campaign. The same one in which she accepted tainted contributions from VECO (10 percent of her campaign funds), the same company at the center of Ted Steven's corruption scandal. And the same Sports Arena that has been an economic disaster for Wasilla.
Sarah Palin quit five colleges in her otherwise unremarkable collegiate career, before finally graduating from the sixth. She quit her job in television. She and Todd quit their snow machine dealership in Big Lake. She quit as chairwoman of the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. Now she has quit the governorship of the state she supposedly loves. Sarah Palin is a quitter. When the going gets tough, Sarah Palin quits.
Geoffrey Dunn is at work on a book about Sarah Palin and her role in American politics, to be published by Macmillan/St. Martin's in 2010.
Send a letter to the editor about this story.