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McCain’s angry outbursts have been reported by members of Congress for years. But he has remained popular with them. There are no comparable reports of such behavior by Palin, but she does have a pattern of getting even when she’s been crossed. Now McCain’s rhetoric has inflamed crowds so much he’s been forced to defend Obama. Palin’s crafted image as a reformer has been tarnished by troopergate [which we just learned is hardly over (LINK)]. They pushed the limits and they’ve been pinched, McCain by public outrage and Palin by Alaska justice. Now will they pay the piper?
As a high school basketball player Sarah Palin earned the nickname barracuda. In a rough and tumble sport anger is easily acted out, and generally acceptable when channeled into aggressive play, as long as too many fouls aren’t called.
Politics is often a rough and tumble game too.
Someone with the disposition of John McCain may get angry, become temporarily unhinged, and express it by yelling and finger jabbing. But if they are going to get ahead and have the respect of their colleagues, as Senator McCain has, they must demonstrate that they can calm down and get back to conducting themselves with a modicum of collegiality.
Unfortunately McCain has had a tin ear to the hateful comments shouted out by members of the crowds at his rallies.
He basked in the roar of the crowd without grasping the reason. This was his need and I fault him for not recognizing that his own rhetoric and the language from Palin, surrogates, and advertising was stoking the worst impulses of some of his supporters.
A man is given considerable leeway in how he expresses anger. A woman isn’t.
When Sarah Palin became mayor of Wasilla she began to demonstrate her proclivity to express her anger in a more feminine way: “don’t get mad, get even” seemed to be her operating principle.
We all know about her attempts to intimidate the town librarian, ironic for a woman who later couldn’t easily answer which newspapers she read on a regular basis.
It is more telling that the two people she did fire were heads of law enforcement agencies, and both seem to have incurred her wrath.
As mayor of Wasilla she fired the local police chief, Iri Stambaugh, she said for failing to help her govern. He had publicly supported her opponent in the mayoral race. Some in Wasilla claimed it was an act of veneance.
By all indications this is a woman who gets her way in many instances because she doesn’t have to use bluster and in your face intimidation. She knows the fear she can instill in those who would think twice about thwarting her because of her well earned reputation for using her power to exact revenge against those who become her enemies.
Now with the report of the investigation of troopergate we see she carried this practice into the governor’s office.
The McCain campaign predictably is grasping at the straws and putting the best possible spin on this. One of the rationalizations was so ludicrous I couldn’t believe it was proffered.
Palin’s attorney Thomas Van Flein said that “in order to violate the ethics law, there has to be some personal gain, usually financial. Mr. Branchflower (the special investigator) has failed to identify any financial gain.”
Of course many politicians violate ethics laws for financial gain, but Palin’s pattern shows she has used power to exact revenge which under any reasonable definition is personal gain, and this is the part of the ethics law she is accused of violating.
Whether Palin’s acolytes are so smitten with her they will ignore half the story remains to be seen. Part one: as the news keeps reporting accurately, technically she was legally in her rights to fire the public safety director. Score one for Palin. Part two: she broke ethics laws.
I have my doubts if many of her supporters give a damn.
Afterthought: It is interesting to read the descriptions made in this commentary from a resident of Wasilla: “About Sarah Palin: an e-mail from Wasilla: A suburban Anchorage homemaker and activist — who once did battle with the Alaska governor when Palin was mayor — recounts what she knows of Palin’s history.”
It describes the “real” Sarah Palin as quite consistent with the picture that has emerged of her in the past few weeks and days. Here’s two excerpts:
(1) Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of “old boys.” Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the city and as governor, she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal — loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the state’s top cop.
(2) She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town, introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal city administrator; even people who didn’t like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.
Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.
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