Sep 14, 2008

Small town values

The New York Times does some fact-checking on Sarah Palin's reformist credentials:
"When there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as one of her qualifications for running the roughly $2 million agency.

Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance..... State legislators are investigating accusations that Ms. Palin and her husband pressured officials to fire a state trooper who had gone through a messy divorce with her sister, charges that she denies. Interviews make clear that the Palins draw few distinctions between the personal and the political.
I've long worked on the assumption that ever since the media turned the presidential elections into a hunt for an everyman, candidates will be penalised for seeming too virtuous. Saints make people feel uncomfortable. Voters actually want someone who shares some of their character defects. That's what was behind a lot of Hillary's candidacy: here was a candidate who fought a mean fight in order to get ahead. To many people, this bore an uncanny resemblance to the themes of their daily life. Palin too is a familiar type. She attacks critics, pursues petty vendettas, blurs the line between government business and personal matters. A gut player who cuts dead those who cross her. An outsider who deplores croneyism only because they are not her cronies ("The Wasilla High School yearbook archive now doubles as a veritable directory of state government.") The crusader who campaigns against her opponent's corruption, not because she dislikes corruption per se, only other people's.

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