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CSI: Wasilla



  Having just logged off, I can honestly say its surreal to watch a 20 year old beauty pageant starring our Republican vice presidential nominee.  Not unpleasant, necessarily, just a little surreal.  Kinda like watching Bedtime for Bonzo.  Here's the link to cut and paste...  By the way, here's another one of her, before improving her skills at reading a TelePrompter....  By the way, that picture above is for real.(Not!  But she really was in Vogue this year.)

  I really don't mean to pick on Sarah Palin any more than any of the other candidates, it's just that she's absolutely in a league of her own.  On second thought, that's not true.  Actually, she's in Dan Quayle's league.  I kind of miss those fleeting years.  After all, for 8 years, Al Gore was a little stiff, but nothing to really laugh at.  And since 2001, we did get to see Cheney sneer a few times before dropping back to his hole in the ground (aka his "secured undisclosed location").  But really, it's been a good 16 years since we've had someone so far of his...or her...rocker as Sarah Palin.  I guess something's changed in this election.   

  Truth be told a lot of things are changing this time around.  For the first time in years, a senator will become President.  For the first time, a black man is a major party nominee and a realistic contender for the Presidency.  These are historic times, given the economy, terrorism, and an ever-changing global situation, to be sure.  Nevertheless, the presidential campaign, until now, was lacking a certain degree of spectacle.  Until, that is, Palin came into the mix.  She's truly ignited a firestorm.  Some say it's because she's such a great unifier for the Republicans.  I say it's because, really, she's so far out there. 

  Here's an example:  Sarah Palin's administration charged sexual assault victims to collect evidence from them.  Call it CSI:  Wasilla.  If you were sexually assaulted in Wasilla, be prepared to pay for it.  After removing her police chief, Sarah Palin's new chief, according to multiple news sources, instituted a change in policy.  Apparently the former chief had a contingency fund which was used to pay for so-called rape kits in case of sexual assaults.  The new chief eliminated the line item in Wasilla's budget and instituted a new policy:  pay as you go.  Either the victim, the insurer, or both, would be billed.  Pretty scary, huh?  In a state with 2.5 x the national sexual assault / sexual assault-murder rate, our current female nominee for vice president, a "hockey mom" who understands women's issues, allowed her police chief to initiate a policy of charging sex assault victims for collecting evidence from their bodies.  And why not?  Reportedly the chief could understand why taxpayers should have to shoulder that burden.  By the way, Wasilla's new policy violated federal law.  For years, the Alaskan legislature tried to pass legislation to stop that policy.  The 1994 Violence Against Women Act denied federal grants to any state that did allow victims to be charged.  Here's a little gem about the Violence Against Women Act:  Sen. Joe Biden authored it.  

  Let's move along to Palin's foreign policy experience.  Although she didn't have a passport until two years ago, she can see Russia from her home.  That gives her foreign policy experience.  Sigh.  I hope she didn't crib that response from the much-more-rigorous-than-electoral-politics interview portion of the Miss Alaska competition.  At least she's read about other countries, so she's got some perspective.  After attending 5 separate schools for her undergrad degree within 6 years, she has more perspective than most.  I'm sure she feels she's found her footing, though. 

  Next, the Bridge to Nowhere.  We all know this story she tells.  The punchline is "I said 'Thanks, but no thanks!'".  Well that's not really the punchline.  Would any governor really turn away several hundred million dollars in federal grants for her home state?  Nooooo.  Here's the real punchline:  she said "Thanks, but no thanks", and kept most of the check.  Then spearheaded what is now known as the Road to Nowhere, a $30 million road that literally leads to a dead-end.  Oh, sure, Biden and Obama voted for the earmarked bridge project, a project that the Maverick-in-Chief currently rallies against on the trail, despite his Vice-Maverick redirecting the cash.  And they both ignore the fact that the infamous project was spearheaded and guided through congress by Alaska's own Uncle Teddy, currently on trial for, ahem, some ethics violations.  And even though Vice-Maverick Palin ran on a platform of wiping out Alaskan corruption, it was only this week that another check given to her, from Ted Stevens, was finally returned to sender. 

  Perhaps the media spectacle that is Sarah Palin would be less so if the media had any real access to her, instead of watching as the campaign takes her out of the box, pulls a few strings, and then hides her away again.  Her shielding from public scrutiny has left everyone scrambling to find out as much about her in as little time as possible, and that's why we've had this frenzied explosion of Palin-isms come to light.  Small details are the only meaningful insights into her character or qualifications.  It's frustrating how sequestered she has been since the GOP convention.  Most recently, for her photo-op sit-down with world leaders on her New York trip, the campaign allowed photographers, but initially no media, until news organizations threatened to walk away from the coverage altogether.  Fortunately the campaign relented, giving the media access to her meeting with, among others, Henry Kissinger (a McCain advisor), and Pakistani President Zardari, who remarked that Palin is more gorgeous in person than he thought, and that he wants to hug her.  That's not belittling, is it?  Why wouldn't the McCain campaign want to share these experiences with the public?

  Despite being stonewalled every opportunity, the community of journalists is collectively doing its job to reveal Sarah Palin to the public, and will probably keep fighting to do so, even though every criticism that surfaces against her is attacked by McCain's camp as either liberal-elitist or sexist.  But as most have noted, the McCain camp is more guilty than any other entity at perpetuating sexism because it proudly parades Palin out as a working hockey mom, then imposes a media blackout on her when anyone seeks substance.  Why criticize the media for doing its job?  Their approach to Palin attacks underscores the message that Palin is, in fact, an unqualified lightweight.  I suspect, however, that the media will persist.  After all, it takes a village to skin a moose!

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