Monday, September 01, 2008

The Known Unknown

So, what do we know about Sarah Palin? Well, to be honest, we can't be sure. In the words of Donald Rumsfeld, "We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know."

She's a wife, a mother of five, and, in fact, recently proved her right-to-live cred by having her fifth child despite knowing that he would be born with Downs Syndrome. But more on that later.

The Republicans, in what has become a fairly common tactic, tried to scrub her wikipedia entry, but that triggered a pushback from the left that may have ended up supplying more information on her than was readily available before.

They also tried to scrub her gubernatorial website - if you try to go to "," you find yourself redirected to However, a blogger named Michael Petrelis saved us the trouble and pulled up web archives of her site. There are even official Alaskan state sites that have been scrubbed, where you find interesting details like her approval of Barack Obama's energy policy.

(The Republicans also don't want to mention that, despite her claim in her acceptance speech that "I told Congress, thanks but no thanks on that Bridge to Nowhere," part of her campaign for governor included pushing for the bridge to get built: she even told Ketchikan residents she felt their pain when politicians called them "nowhere." Of course, once she got the money, she used it for other things; the only part of the bridge that's getting built was is an access road to the beach where it would have gone. That money was earmarked, and would have to have been returned.)

We know that the vetting process for Sarah Palin was a little more rushed than normal: John McCain only met her once before announcing her as his selection for Vice President; this has left some of the contenders, like Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, feeling used and manipulated. (Of course, maybe McCain had other reasons for selecting her...) But one theory about her selection, put forward by Frank Rich, gives a different reason for her pick as VP:
The latest good luck for the Democrats is that the McCain campaign was just as bamboozled as the press by the false Hillary narrative. McCain was obviously itching to choose his pal Joe Lieberman as his running mate. A onetime Democrat who breaks with the G.O.P. by supporting abortion rights might have rebooted his lost maverick cred more forcefully than Palin, who is cracking this particular glass ceiling nearly a quarter-century after the Democrats got there first. Lieberman might have even been of some use in roiling the Obama-Hillary-Bill juggernaut that will now storm through South Florida.

The main reason McCain knuckled under to the religious right by picking Palin is that he actually believes there’s a large army of embittered Hillary loyalists who will vote for a hard-line conservative simply because she’s a woman. That’s what happens when you listen to the TV news echo chamber. Not only is the whole premise ludicrous, but it is every bit as sexist as the crude joke McCain notoriously told about Janet Reno, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton.
We know that she's a fairly pretty woman, and even won second place in the Miss Alaska pageant, although nobody is clear on how that might make her a viable choice for Vice President. (On the other hand, the videos of her work as a sports anchor in the eighties are interesting.)

Although Ms. Palin is describes herself as non-denominational, she attends a Pentacostal church, one of the major evangelical churches in America. This fact probably makes her more appealing to the Religious Right, but some have found troubling indications in her choice of religions.

Some on the right have deep reservations about her selection, too; David Frum, from the National Review, writes:
Here's I fear the worst harm that may be done by this selection. The McCain campaign's slogan is "country first." It's a good slogan, and it aptly describes John McCain, one of the most self-sacrificing, gallant, and honorable men ever to seek the presidency.

But question: If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?
Noah Millman, a blogger at, is even more blatant (and he's a supporter, too):
If McCain were to die in February 2009, I hope Palin would have the good sense to appoint someone who is more ready to be President to be her Vice President, on the understanding that she would then resign and be appointed Vice President by her successor.
Or, to put it another way, "Hey, thanks for your time. You've been a good little girl, now could you get out of the way and let the men get to work? Oh, and get us some coffee before you go."

And then there's the fascinating rumors coming to light. First, an investigation was launched against her for the possible abuse of power in trying to get her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper. This might not be much of an issue in the election: unless the Alaska Attorney General is more efficient than the rest of them, I doubt this investigation will be wrapped up in less than a year. But according to State Sen. Hollis French, who leads the state Senate's Legislative Counsel Committee, Ms. Palin might be deposed soon.

More interesting (and definitely more appealing to the National Enquirer readers): some bloggers are finding great glee in pointing out the following parade of facts:
1. Nobody knew Sarah Palin was pregnant until she admitted to being seven months along.

2. The day she gave birth, she gave a speech in Texas where she claimed to be leaking amniotic fluid, and then took a seven-hour flight to Alaska, and drove 45 minutes ot a remote hospital. And then she returned to work three days later.

3. Her daughter had been out of school for about five months, with a claim of mononucleosis.
And yes, that looks suspicious. On the other hand, that same daughter has just turned up pregnant at age 17, (hey, way to teach the family values, mom!) and I don't see her getting pregnant again this quickly.

So let's consider a third possibility. Ms Palin is a college-educated woman. (OK, yes, she's also a beauty-queen runner-up, but she went to college. That has to count for something.) She's had four children before this. So let's assume that she knew something about pregnancy. Like when the amniotic fluid is leaking, that's important. Like when an airplane goes up thousands of feet, the pressure changes can affect the pregnancy. Like time is important in situations like this. And, incidentally, that a larger hospital (like, say, in Texas) might have more equipment to ensure that the baby survives childbirth.

Now, further than that, she says that she knew that the child had Downs Syndrome, and raising a Downs child is a challenge. And she'd just been elected the youngest governor (and the first woman governor) in Alaska's history. What is an up and coming, dedicated pro-life politician to do?

Wouldn't a miscarriage have been convenient?

I think this is a question that somebody needs to consider.


reboot said...

I have strongly considered this the sole reason that she took all the careless actions that she did. A convenient end to the problem could be had with the blame going to a higher power - who saw thru all this and kept trig alive despite mom.

the only person who says that Bristol is 5 months on is ... Palin. What if she is only 3 months on. What if she also conveniently loses the child once the need for the alabi disappears.

The missus suggested another possibility that is a little far fetched but with everything else quite within rovian think.

Perhaps she wanted another child, but needed to use a surrogate. The child would still be hers but she would not want the wingnuts to find out that she was using all the repro technology to do it.

We will never know; but do we really want another Monica Goodling type schemer in any administration ?

Anonymous said...

Miscarriage would have been convenient but not worth risk of own life if complications ensued on an airplane. It sounds like a nice story to tell after the "fact" to embellish an un-truth. It's the stacking of lies, required by the sudden change in political opportunity that makes this so entertaining. It just keeps snowballing.

isabinda said...

College-educated: there's something else that's interesting -- 6 colleges in 5 years. Why? I know people who transfer once or twice for various reasons -- costs, travel, changing ambitions, life realities, etc etc. But 6 colleges in 5 years seems excessive to me. Or am I out of touch?