Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Past Fortells the Future

I once got a fortune cookie that said, “Your past will foretll your future.” After reading this article by Jo Becker, Peter S. Goodman and Michael Powell in the New York Times, I’m convinced that Sarah Palin’s past as a mayor and a governor foretells what kind of leader she would be.

WASILLA, Alaska — Gov. Sarah Palin lives by the maxim that all politics is local, not to mention personal.

So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as one of her qualifications for running the roughly $2 million agency.

Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages.

When Ms. Palin had to cut her first state budget, she avoided the legion of frustrated legislators and mayors. Instead, she huddled with her budget director and her husband, Todd, an oil field worker who is not a state employee, and vetoed millions of dollars of legislative projects.

And four months ago, a Wasilla blogger, Sherry Whitstine, who chronicles the governor’s career with an astringent eye, answered her phone to hear an assistant to the governor on the line, she said.

“You should be ashamed!” Ivy Frye, the assistant, told her. “Stop blogging. Stop blogging right now!”

I’m also convinced that the past eight years of governing by the Bush administration — petty, vindictive, rife with cronyism, and infused with nothing beyond the craving to rule — are reflected here as well.

That’s not change we can believe in, Charlie.

An afterthought: It makes you wonder if the McCain campaign did any sort of vetting of Ms. Palin’s record before they selected her. If they did not, it shows an amazing lack of judgment — or even curiosity — on their part. If they did, it demonstrates an amazing amount of cynicism that they could look over her history and still think that they could bamboozle the American public into thinking that she was fit for national office or that the electorate lacked the idle curiosity beyond her human interest stories — her family, her church, her hunting skills — to care about what kind of leader she would be if she was thrust onto the national stage. And that goes back to the initial concern I had when Gov. Palin was announced as the Republican nominee for vice president: what does this tell us about the judgment of John McCain?