thoughts on politics

September 3, 2008

What kind of conservative is Sarah Palin?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matt @ 10:23 pm
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The kind who tries to ban books she disagrees with:

“Sarah comes in with all this ideological stuff, and I was like, ‘Whoa,’ ” said Mr. Stein, who lost the election. “But that got her elected: abortion, gun rights, term limits and the religious born-again thing. I’m not a churchgoing guy, and that was another issue: ‘We will have our first Christian mayor.’ ”

“I thought: ‘Holy cow, what’s happening here? Does that mean she thinks I’m Jewish or Islamic?’ ” recalled Mr. Stein, who was raised Lutheran, and later went to work as the administrator for the city of Sitka in southeast Alaska. “The point was that she was a born-again Christian.”

For all the admiration in Alaska for Ms. Palin, her rapid ascent from an activist in the P.T.A. to the running mate of Senator John McCain did not come without battle wounds. Her years in Wasilla, her first executive experience, reveal a mix of successes and stumbles, with Ms. Palin gaining support from a majority of residents for her drive, her faith and her accessibility but alienating others with what they said could be a polarizing single-mindedness.

“She is an aggressive reformer who isn’t afraid to break glass, to bring change to Wasilla and later to the state of Alaska,” said Taylor Griffin, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, who declined to address specific aspects of Ms. Palin’s tenure as mayor. “Washington needs some of that.”

In Wasilla, Ms. Palin is widely praised for following through on campaign promises by cutting property taxes while improving roads and sewers and strengthening the Police Department.

Her supporters say she helped Wasilla evolve from a ridiculed backwater to fast-growing suburb. The population of about 5,000 during her tenure as mayor has grown to nearly 10,000 now, and the city is filling with big box stores, including a Target that is scheduled to open on Oct. 12, one of three opening statewide that day in the chain’s Alaska debut.

But her critics say too much growth too quickly has made a mess of what not long ago was homesteaded farmland.

And for some, Ms. Palin’s first months in office here were so jarring — and so alienating — that an effort was made to force a recall. About 100 people attended a meeting to discuss the effort, which was covered in the local press, but the idea was dropped.

Shortly after becoming mayor, former city officials and Wasilla residents said, Ms. Palin approached the town librarian about the possibility of banning some books, though she never followed through and it was unclear which books or passages were in question.

Ann Kilkenny, a Democrat who said she attended every City Council meeting in Ms. Palin’s first year in office, said Ms. Palin brought up the idea of banning some books at one meeting. “They were somehow morally or socially objectionable to her,” Ms. Kilkenny said.

The librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, pledged to “resist all efforts at censorship,” Ms. Kilkenny recalled. Ms. Palin fired Ms. Emmons shortly after taking office but changed course after residents made a strong show of support. Ms. Emmons, who left her job and Wasilla a couple of years later, declined to comment for this article.

In 1996, Ms. Palin suggested to the local paper, The Frontiersman, that the conversations about banning books were “rhetorical.”

If someone has a problem with freedom of thought and expression, they have a problem with a fundamental American idea, and, in my book, ought to be automatically disqualified from office of any sort. Let’s see if the media does anything with this, or chooses instead to focus on Mr. Sex on Skates Johnson, her daughter’s baby daddy.

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