Sarah's Weaknesses and Threats
Many of Palin's claims to fame that she has trumpeted over the last few years that we have already begun to hear parroted on the national media have been over blown and her lack of experience has already become target number one for Democrats.
These weaknesses will be exposed by Democrats, who, flush with cash this election cycle will have ample resources to do opposition research on Palin's real record.
A reformer? While Palin was out spoken against the likes of Randy Ruedrich, Greg Renkes and Frank Murkowksi, as were others, her role was more of a whistle blower than a reformer.
Ethics legislation that was passed in 2007 was two years overdue and supported by the same legislators who looked the other way during the events of the previous administration that pointed out th existing loopholes in the state's ethics laws.
It took the FBI raids in August of 2006 and the indictment of former lawmaker Tom Anderson months later to force lawmakers to finally close the loopholes they had ignored for years.
Cleaning up the Republican Party? Even after her much publicized battle with GOP party chairman Randy Ruedrich over ethics, she remained silent at the 2004 Republican State Convention while Ruedrich was re-nominated unanimously.
This past spring at the 2008 Republican State Convention, Palin in her speech to delegates pushed for replacing Ruedrich but her calls were unanswered. Palin supporters who wanted Ruedrich out simply couldn't attract enough Ron Paul supporters who seemed more concerned with revoking the Patriot Act and legalizing Marijuana.
Another weakness is Palin's habit of tailoring the facts of a situation to meet her political needs.
Yesterday in her Dayton acceptance speech, Palin stated, "...I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress -- I told Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' on that bridge to nowhere. If our state wanted a bridge, I said we'd build it ourselves."
This was not true.
Not only did the state keep the money that was earmarked for the bridge to be used on other transportation projects, but Palin had been a strong supporter of the bridge during her gubernatorial run in 2006, claiming Alaska needed to seize upon the seniority of its congressional delegation.
According to the Ketchikan Daily News on August 8, 2006, 'People across the nation struggle with the idea of building a bridge because they’ve been under these misperceptions about the bridge and the purpose,' said Palin, who described the link as the Ketchikan area’s potential for expansion and growth.
Palin said Alaska’s congressional delegation worked hard to obtain funding for the bridge as part of a package deal and that she 'would not stand in the way of the progress toward that bridge.'”
And again on September 29, 2006, she told the Ketchikan Daily News, "Part of my agenda is making sure that Southeast is heard. That your projects are important. That we go to bat for Southeast when we’re up against federal influences that aren’t in the best interest of Southeast.'
She cited the widespread negative attention focused on the Gravina Island crossing project. 'We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that’s so negative,' Palin said.
Yesterday, it took bloggers less than a few hours after her acceptance speech in Dayton to call her on the claim that she turned back the federal earmark for the bridge to nowhere.
Palin will need to learn that reporters are hanging on her every word and that the level of scrutiny from the press will be relentless.
The lack of domestic and foreign policy knowledge will become problematic if Palin doesn't become a fast learner. During her twenty months in office as governor she has introduced no major policy issues dealing with health care, education or public safety.
With Americans worried about mortgage payments, health care and the cost of energy, Palin will need to offer them more than just glittering generalities.
As a close observer of her administration, Palin has had a habit of holding press conferences surrounded by the crutch of her staff.
When questions get too detailed, she anxiously looks around the room for someone to save her. This won't be possible when she is standing on her own.
And foreign policy will be one of her biggest challenges, especially standing toe to toe against Sen. Joe Biden who is considered by many as an expert on foreign affairs. With geo-political events just one match away from becoming a raging bonfire, Palin needs to be able to articulate an understanding of the global conflicts and possible solutions.
Palin's lack of foreign policy is already becoming foder for late night comedians. Friday night Jay Leno poked at Palin's lack of foreign experience.
"Tonight on the show we have Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson who just got back from Beijing. You know what that means don't you? It means she has more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin," Leno joked.
But jokes aside, with McCain's age being a factor, the phrase being a heartbeat away from the presidency takes on new meaning. Palin will need to get up to speed on a tremendous amount of issues fast.
The most obvious threat is that Sarah Palin is not qualified to be the President of the United States. With John McCain at age 72, he would be the oldest President ever elected. This means the Vice President slot will be watched extremely close.
There are a number of other threats as well that Palin faces if she doesn't realize the rules have changed and the stakes are high. The scrutiny she is under will be unlike anything she has ever been through before.
During the gubernatorial campaign throughout Alaska, if a reporter showed up to cover an event, that was a coup. Today she won't be able to go to the grocery store without press following her and noting what she is buying.
Palin won't be able to say one thing one week and another thing another week. As soon as she does it will be a bit on The Daily Show with John Stewart.
Palin has had the comfort of being treated very respectfully by the Alaska media and some might argue with kid gloves. No more. She will have a pack of two dozen reporters following her every move and hanging on her every word. With the concern about her inexperience already coming into play, the press will be listening and waiting for any slip up to pounce on.
She has also exhibited a quick temper with those who question her. Time to grow a really, really thick skin. Every one of these reporters is looking for a better story than their colleague, which means nothing is off limits.
Finally, she needs to learn and learn fast. During the campaign in 2006 my biggest surprise was that Palin's message on issues never matured between January and November.
In April of 2006, Palin and I shared a cup of coffee together in the Captain Cook coffee shop. We had just been at a debate up at the University of Fairbanks the night before and she said although the was impressed with my ability to state policies and figures, when looking out over the audience, she wondered to herself if having a grasp of that really mattered.
In October of 2006, at a health care debate at UAA late in the campaign, while Tony Knowles and I waited backstage to go on, Palin sat in the corner with two of her aides trying to force feed her health care information. She ended up walking on stage with an arm load of health care reports.
The fact was that having a grasp of policies and figures didn't matter. Because at the end of the day, policies and figures didn't win the election; Palin won the election by being the candidate that people liked the most, not the candidate that knew the most.
The threat is that she will try and apply that same recipe to running on a nationwide platform and I don't think that will help her and will be highlighted by the press and in the media.
But the biggest unknown threat remains the ongoing investigation regarding the firing of former Public safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.
The fact that McCain selected Palin even though this investigation has just begun, shows that either Palin has convinced them that this is much to do about nothing, or the McCain camp feels they can spin the outcome if it's bad.
According to Lisa Demer at the Anchorage Daily News, the McCain campaign says Palin “was never directly involved” and blamed the controversy on the campaign of the Democratic nominee, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.
“The Governor did nothing wrong and has nothing to hide. It’s outrageous that the Obama campaign is trying to attack her over a family issue. As a reformer and a leader on ethics reform, she has been happy to help out in the investigation of this matter, because she was never directly involved,” the campaign said in a statement.
However, for the first time on Friday, Monegan offered confirmation that he felt he was fired by Palin due to his refusal to fire her ex brother in law, State Trooper Mike Wooten.
“It was a significant factor if not the factor,” Monegan said.
In addition, Monegan confirmed publicly what we reported on this blog yesterday about the existence of emails he received directly from Palin regarding Wooten.
This of course contradicts Palin's claim that she was never directly involved.
"Monegan also disclosed for the first time Friday that Palin sent him two or three e-mails that referenced her ex-brother-in-law and his status with troopers but he wouldn’t provide them because of the ongoing investigation," reported the ADN's Demer.
The investigation will take even more turns as there are reports now that the Palin administration has ceased cooperating with special investigator Branchflower and some Palin staffers are talking about jumping ship before it starts to sink.
This remains a constant threat and one that will not go away anytime soon.
They say a week is a lifetime in politics; what happens the next nine weeks will make Alaskan history for a lifetime.