Since John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his VP pick, we've had quite a bit to say here at TNR. Here's a comprehensive list: The Plank: Palin Denies That Global Warming Is Man-Made, by Cass Sunstein McCain Was Right To Take a Risk, But Is Palin the Right One?, by Nate Silver Dispatch From Alaska: Palin? Really?, by Charles Wohlforth A Tick-Tock of the Big Palin Scandal, by Seyward Darby What The Palin Pick Means For Evangelicals, by Alan Wolfe An Astonishingly Arrogant VP Selection, by J.
Charles Wohlforth, a lifelong Alaska Democrat and occasional TNR contributor, gives us the word on Palin from up north. I first met Sarah Palin just after she'd been elected mayor of the little town of Wasilla, Alaska, in October 1996. My first impression was that she didn't seem up to the job. I had written a Frommer's travel guidebook about Alaska (I live in Anchorage and was on the Municipal Assembly here at the time).
In Alaska, it's known as Troopergate and, sometimes, Wootengate. Newly selected GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Alaska's first female governor, has been dogged by controversy since July 11, when she fired Public Safety Commissoner Walter Monegan. At the time, a spokesperson for Palin said the 44-year-old governor wanted to take the public safety department in a new direction. Monegan said any complaints from the governor about his job performance had "never been communicated" to him. Then things started to get messy.
Alan Wolfe is a TNR contributing editor and director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. With John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin, none of the major candidates for national office in 2008 will be from the South. Of course one of them, Palin, is an evangelical. But she is not a Southern evangelical, and therein lies a tale. Commentators who once knew little or nothing about religion now know that there are such things as evangelicals and that there are a lot of them in this country.
Eve notes Christopher Hayes's catch that Sarah Palin supported Pat Buchanan in 1999. Neither of them really dwells on the significance of this, so I wanted to back up for those who don't remember the circumstances of the time. This isn't like supporting Buchanan in the GOP primary. When Palin was supporting him, Buchanan was running as a third (actually, fourth) party insurgent, appealing to conservatives who thought George W. Bush was too moderate. This suggests that she's not just a run-of-the-mill movement conservative but a hard-core right-winger. --Jonathan Chait
The Nation's Chris Hayes makes an interesting catch: Remember when Pat Buchanan ran a number of hard-right, fringe campaigns for president in the late 1980s, 1990s and 2000? Well, guess who was supporting him. From an AP report in 1999: "Pat Buchanan brought his conservative message of a smaller government and an America First foreign policy to Fairbanks and Wasilla on Friday as he continued a campaign swing through Alaska. Buchanan's strong message championing states rights resonated with the roughly 85 people gathered for an Interior Republican luncheon in Fairbanks.
Republicans have been heavily touting Sarah Palin's reformist credentials, with her supposed opposition to Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere" as Exhibit A. But how hard did she really fight the project? Not very, it seems. Here's what she told the Anchorage Daily News on October 22, 2006, during the race for the governor's seat (via Nexis): 5. Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges? Yes. I would like to see Alaska's infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later.
Since everyone south of Juneau seems to be relying on their trusty Nexis accounts for more information on the surprise Republican vice-presidential candidate, I'll do the same. A brief sampling of her pre-gubernatorial career: -Forbesmania! Palin was an Alaska cochair of Steve Forbes' 2000 presidential campaign. -Float for change! Palin's float won first prize in the political category at the 1999 Alaska State Fair. -Gay marriage, no; Wal-Mart marriage, yes! As mayor of Wasilla, Palin once presided over a wedding in a Wal-Mart. -A cessna in every garage!