Last Sunday I blogged on Sarah Palin. I praised her genuine pro-life commitment in her own life. At that time, the "babygate" puzzle was hot. I had read on a blog that her daughter, Bristol, was pregnant now. I wrote that that settled the mystery of whether Trig Palin was really Bristol's child. The news of Bristol Palin's pregnancy had not yet hit the news, though, and the comments on that post, which were meant as partial praise, got tangled in the then-unresolved babygate question. For the first time in the three years I have been writing this blog, I pulled a post.
Since then I have watched and read with great care just about everything that has come out from and about Gov. Palin. The comments in the blog this week, on posts that were about something else, nonetheless raised many questions about Palin. So today I want to give a more considered response to the one-week celebrity of the Republican ticket.
I believe that we all have the vices of our virtues. Our weaknesses are usually the complements of our strengths. The list below, therefore, alternates what I see as Gov. Palin's strengths with her related weaknesses.
She is smart, charismatic, and attractive.
She did a good job reading a speech written by others, but has so far refused to answer questions in her own voice, speaking her own mind.
She seems to have a strong marriage, has devoted herself to her family.
She has used her office to persecute those she thinks threatened her family.
She has really walked the pro-life talk, having a baby in her 40s that she knew would be very challenging to raise.
She took crazy risks with that baby's birth. I still think there is something fishy about the whole "fly home from Texas" story.
Finding her teen-age daughter pregnant, she pressed the couple to get married, which is her grandchild's best shot at a stable family life.
She said having the baby was her daughter's choice. She has also said she would sign a law banning all abortions.
She has walked the pro-military talk, supporting her son into the Army in wartime.
She has not thought in any depth about the war her son is being sent to fight.
She is a strong Christian and is not afraid to own it.
She believes God supports what she supports -- the president, the war, the gas pipeline (!)
She has walked the pro-community talk, getting involved in her PTA, serving on the city council of her hometown, and serving as mayor.
She used her power ruthlessly - firing the chief of police because he intimidated her, pressuring the librarian to censor books, putting the city in debt for money pit projects like a sports arena instead of necessities like a sewage treatment plant. And she attacks community organizing, the most basic kind of community involvement. This is a real puzzle to me. Up until now, faith-based community service has something Republicans were for.
She has opposed corruption in her own Republican party, including that of its leader, Sen. Ted Stevens.
She ran a campaign for Stevens. She supported the "Bridge to Nowhere" that he championed. She actively sought earmarks for her town, some of which Sen. McCain singled out as examples of abusive pork-barrel spending. I don't mind politicians changing their minds, or even bowing to reality. I do think it a real character flaw when they pretend that they always had the position they have now.
She opposed the oil cartel that controls Alaskan politics.
She has brought in different oil companies to carry out her pet project, the gas pipeline. She does not support freeing America from oil dependence, she favors freeing America from foreign oil dependence -- which means more sales for the main commodity of her state.
She pushed stronger ethics laws, and undid some of the excesses of her predecessor as governor.
She keeps saying that she sold the governor's jet on eBay for a profit, knowing that this is not true. Knowing that anyone who follows politics knows this is not true. She got rid of the governor's driver -- but she makes phone calls and sends text messages while driving (this may be a pet peeve of mine).
She has mobilized many ordinary people who were lukewarm about participating in this election.
In defending small town, evangelical, gun-using Americans, she sneers at cosmopolitan, mainline, violence-fearing Americans.
She has helped normalize the idea of women in every political office, include President.
She praised Hillary Clinton for putting those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling. This line brought boos. I expect she will not say that again.
She is a Gen-X "just do it" person who might actually accomplish something.
She doesn't seem to have a plan for anything she does. She reacts to events, doing the opposite of whatever stands in her way.