A view from Wasilla

Mrs. Scottie Kania from Wasilla, Alaska writes:

Dear Mr. Auster,

Just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed reading the commentary and analyses posted on your web site since Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain’s running mate. Some of the commentary has been spot on and some has been unimaginably off base. As one who has known this young woman and her husband since they were teenagers in high school (Todd’s father and stepmother live across the street from me.), I can confirm that both are very normal people. However, I would like to caution you and your readers that some, if not a lot, of what you are reading and hearing about both, particularly Sarah, is not necessarily unbiased or true. I know the players who are agreeing to interviews and at times, was involved in some of the Wasilla politics discussed. Suffice to say, I will never read another newspaper in the same way again.

One example would be the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.” Sarah did not acquire, nor did she play any part in acquiring this earmark. Since our former governor, Frank Murkowski owns property on Gravina Island where bridge was to be built, i think it’s a pretty good bet that if anyone worked with Don Young to get this money, it was probably Murkowski. It’s my understanding that after Sarah became governor, she consulted with the Alaska State department that deals with infrastructure and they told her of all the projects that needed to be addressed, this bridge was at the bottom of the list, so she decided to heed their advice and cancel it. Though she may have said on the campaign trail for the governorship that she supports building new infrastructure in Alaska, including the Bridge to Nowhere, as you can see, she will look at the facts and ask questions and adjust her thinking, if necessary. Wouldn’t it be nice if other politicians would do that?

As for the luxury jet former Governor Murkowski procured, even though the legislature objected, she did put it on Ebay. Though it’s true it didn’t sell there, the intent was to minimize the broker fees as much as possible, because our former governor had paid too much for it. Yes, it sold at a loss, but how can Governor Palin be held responsible for that? Besides that, it was probably symbolism more than anything, she did promise to clean house in Juneau.

Governor Palin isn’t perfect and she has, as all of us, made mistakes, but overall, she is a good and honest person who, when she makes promises, tries her best to keep them.

And one last thing, Todd was described as effeminate by one of your commenters a few days ago. There are many things that would describe Todd Palin, but effeminate is not one of them. It might appear that Sarah wears the pants, so to speak, but this isn’t true at all. What appears to be wimpy and maybe even effeminate is Todd on his best behavior in the background and letting Sarah be Sarah. If you could see him when he participates in the grueling 2,000-mile Tesoro Iron Dog snowmobile race when Sarah is the cheerleader and he is the star (He’s won that race four times.), you would see he’s anything but. That may mean nothing where you are, but in Alaska, it means a lot.

Scottie Kania (Mrs.)

Wasilla, Alaska—the city where business is booming because reporters and other miscreants from all over the world are looking for dirt.

LA replies:

Dear Mrs. Kania,

Thanks very much for this. Please feel welcome to correct VFR on anything you think it has wrong about the Palins.

Is there anything I’ve said about Gov. Palin that you feel is unimaginably (or even imaginably) off-base?

The “effeminate” remark was made in this entry by Laura W. She did not say that Todd Palin is effeminate, but rather that during Sarah’s acceptance speech, while he was holding the baby, Todd “appeared effeminate in comparison” with his wife. Also, I don’t think that Laura meant literally effeminate, which would be ridiculous, but rather that Todd had taken on the passive role in relation to Sarah who was in the active and dominant role. Also, in my reply to Laura, I called Todd “a tough guy,” directly contradicting Laura’s observation.

Best regards,
Lawrence Auster

Scottie Kania replies:

First of all, please forgive me for being unclear as to who I felt made some “unimaginably off base” comments. My observations were not based only on what you have said, but what has been said in general by the others who have expressed their views. I actually think for the most part, you and some of the other men have been fair and relatively measured. Now, I don’t think Sarah would ever change your mind about women in national politics, but I do think you might feel more charitable toward her, if you knew her. For the record, in certain positions like Secretary of State, National Security Advisor and now Speaker of the House, I am in 100 percent agreement with you, women have no place in these positions for many valid reasons. And frankly, I’m not 100 percent comfortable with Sarah as vice president and possibly president either, but we all knew this day was coming and I must say, I’m more comfortable with Sarah as VP than I would have been with Hillary as President or Nancy Pelosi who recently reminded us she is just two heartbeats away from the presidency. I would also add, it could have been far worse than that, McCain could have chosen Kay Bailey Hutchinson; I’ve heard she was on the list too.

Before I get to the unimaginable comments, let me also say, I was no more happy with the drama of Bristol’s pregnancy than you or your readers. Had I been Sarah, I would never have accepted and had I been McCain, I would never have asked, but it is what it is and this is what we’ve got. I also would never have brought the young father to the convention and put him on public display, but aside from that, I suspect they brought him down because, as another neighbor’s son who lives in the house adjacent to boy’s home told me, the neighborhood was teeming with reporters knocking on doors to get a story. My guess is they didn’t want to take a chance on this na├»ve young man discussing the Palin family and their daughter with a Connie Chung type reporter.

Now, maybe “unimaginably offbase” was a bit of an overstatement because I’m too close to the subject, but surely you would agree with me that the male enhancement drug comment about McCain’s demeanor after he brought Sarah onboard was, at the very least, unnecessary? [LA replies: But the Viagra comment, by Carol Iannone, was obviously not intended as a factual statement. It was a whimsical, humorous observation, bringing out how McCain and many Republican supporters were acting as though they had been “re-energized,” given a new lease on life and a new hop in their step, by Palin’s selection.]

And then there was references to the National Enquirer story. Yes, it’s true their reporting on John Edwards seems to be factual, but I question this one. Those of us who know this family believe the “family source” in this piece was probably her mother-in-law, Todd’s stepmother. Without going into detail, there has been bad blood between them for some time now.

If anything, since Bristol attends public school, I think this problem may be a testament to Sarah’s belief that explicit sex education shouldn’t be taught in public school, which is the case up here. We have an unusually high rate of teen pregnancy. I have heard, though I’ve never verified it, that it’s as high as one in four girls. Since our schools do teach very explicit sex education and have for at least 15 years, I can’t help but wonder if this might be more a problem than a solution. Anyway, knowing Sarah as I do, I wouldn’t have posted this on a blog, but in fairness to you, I understand you don’t know her or her family.

However, the situation becomes more problematic in the light of the following. You quoted the National Enquirer:

Sarah has had a stormy relationship with Bristol, said the family source.

“Sarah had a hard time controlling her, ” said the source. “She is so busy with her political career that it seems she often doesn’t have time for Bristol.

“While Todd is often around the house, there are issues their teenage daughter doesn’t want to share with her father.”

And then there was George L.’s video of Sarah speaking at her local church. I suppose this is one of those “eye of the beholder” things, but I didn’t view it quite the way he did [i.e., that Palin came across as immature and girlish].

But let me tell you this, though I’ve never discussed religion with her, the last thing I would have thought her to be is an Evangelical Christian, which is what I’ve read in the news. I’m thinking of those who call everybody brother and sister and pepper their speech with Praise the Lord. Sarah’s parents were Catholic and converted to whatever this denomination is early when they first came up here. At that time, this was a very undeveloped area and my hunch is there was no Catholic Church out here then, but they wanted their children in church, so they made the best of what they had available. I do know Sarah drinks beer (in moderation) and Evangelicals don’t.

Let me just close it with this. I think comments like those of Laura W. and a few others were particularly judgmental of a person they really know nothing about. Certainly, we should discuss things like the problems of teen pregnancy, other societal ills (and even women in politics), with the intent of trying to change things for the better, but Sarah and Todd are far better parents than you may believe and I can assure you, they are far more heartbroken over their daughter than you will ever know.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 08, 2008 12:41 AM | Send

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