Palin and Suffering

The full piece, Palin and Suffering, as published in the Oct 23 issue of the prairie dog.

Palin And Suffering

Scary Sarah leads the way to a nastier, stupider America

by Bernadette L. Wagner


Sarah Palin wouldn’t be my first pick for Vice President of the United States. The Alaskan Governor is unfit for the job.

For starters, forget that she’s female. Palin is no friend of women’s rights. She rose to the top not because she’s cream, but because she’s female, a token woman — a strategic play by Republicans to lure Hillary Clinton supporters to their ticket — and because neoconservative types like her. A lot.

Still, her spot on the Republican ticket shocked the world. Mitt Romney or Joe Lieberman were the favourites to run as Senator John McCain’s running-mate. How, exactly, Palin floated to the top remains a mystery.

Palin hails from Wasilla, Alaska, a town in a state with an incidence of sexual assault that’s twice the national average. During her two-term reign as mayor in the 1990s, Wasilla was one of a number of Alaskan municipalities that began billing victims of sexual assault for the forensic testing they underwent after filing a report with the police. (This ‘blame the victim’ policy stood until 2000, when the state legislature squashed it so Alaska would be eligible to receive funding for (from?) the federal Violence Against Women Act.)

The “rape-kit” story has been virtually ignored by the mainstream media during the U.S. Campaign. That’s surprising given the sheer viciousness of this policy that was in place under Palin’s tenure. Can you hang the whole mess on Sarah? Well, no, but she’s far from blameless. — After all, she hand-picked a police chief who championed the policy and Palin signed off on the budget that turned the rape-kit expenses into revenues.

None of this should be really surprising, given that Palin belongs to a book-banning, gun-toting brand of hard right, Christian fundamentalism. Officially blessed by Wasilla’s Church of God, Palin opposes same sex marriage and holds strident views on reproductive choice (women don’t get any). As a member of Feminists for Life she believes all pregnancies should be carried to term, even those that are the result of sexual assault.

It’s enough to make a cynic wonder whether Palin believes that a rapist should be able to freely choose the mother of his children.

But hey! She’s a feminist.

And gosh-golly, she believes in equal rights. Or so she told Katie Couric in the fated CBS interviews. And in one of those interviews she proudly proclaimed herself the harbinger of new energy for old politics. However, the only energy she’s creating is old: fear and hatred. And she feeds on it.

In Alaska, it’s fairly well known that Palin and State Senate President, Lyda Green, don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. When Palin appeared on a KWHL radio show early this year, the DJ called the senator “a jealous woman and a cancer.” The senator is a cancer survivor. Palin knew that and said nothing. The host escalated his attacks, joking about Green’s body size. Palin laughed. He called the senator a bitch and Palin laughed harder. So, when the DJ invited himself over for dinner, what did Palin do? She agreed!

Palin’s attacks on Obama run in a similar vein. Her constant aspersions on Obama’s character, attempts to connect him with voter fraud, insistence on painting him as a radical, and repetition of the question, “Who is Barack Hussein Obama?” feed a frenzy unlike anything the U.S. has seen since the McCarthy era. Palin is not for equality. She is doing nothing to promote equality and egalitarianism among Americans. She’s inciting hatred. When her supporters call out “Terrorist!” or “Kill him!” or “Bomb Obama” she doesn’t stop them and insist on civility. She doesn’t explain that William Ayers was a civil rights and anti-war activist when Obama was eight years old, that Ayers is currently a university professor, or that he and Obama served on the board of an anti-poverty organization together with several of Republicans.

No, Palin can’t mention that. Doing so would stop the energy rising around her.

Instead, she smiles and winks, and feeds off the frenzy.

Is anyone surprised, then, that a Palin supporter assaulted independent journalist, Joe Killian, as he interviewed a protester at a Palin campaign rally on October 17? That the offices of ACORN, the community organization whose workers find and register new voters, have been vandalized? That a member ACORNs senior staff has received a death threat?

The neocons in the Republican party like anger and conflict. They’re all about war. And they like Sarah Palin.

William Kristol introduced Palin to the Republican inner circle in June 2007. A very influential and diehard neoconservative, he was Chief of Staff for former VP Dan Quayle. Kristol’s magazine, The Weekly Standard, is hand-delivered to every member of Congress every Monday morning. His father, Irving, sired the neocon movement and is a Senior Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The AEI is a far right think tank that’s all about unlimited free enterprise capitalism — the brand of capitalism that just sucked $700 billion out of the U.S. Treasury. And, says that AEI “succeeds in placing its people in influential governmental positions.”

Would that be people like Sarah Palin? The kind of people who tell us that we “shouldn’t worry about government not having enough money. Government’s got plenty of money.”

And the US is $10.3 trillion in debt. Don’t worry, be happy.

Earlier in the campaign an AEI official, quoted in the UK Telegraph, said of Palin, “She’s bright and she’s a blank page. She’s going places and it’s worth going there with her.”


Well, bright is relative. But the Couric interviews and the VP debate certainly highlighted Palin’s blankness.

Let’s hope that on Nov. 4, Americans won’t enter the dark places Palin wants to take them.