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.
Oh good. Just what the federal government needs: more Brownies. They’ve done such a hecukva job for us so far!
I found quite a lot of disturbing information in this story. We see a politician who has “pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance.” She’s used her position to benefit family and friends, and seems to embody the GOP motto that “government doesn’t work unless it works for me.” It’s the same failed ideology of government we’ve seen from the Bush Administration for the past seven years; the same ideology of Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham and Tom DeLay.
But what’s exceedingly disturbing to me is the active role in public policy her husband Todd has played. For example:
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.
Last summer State Representative John Harris, the Republican speaker of the House, picked up his phone and heard Mr. Palin’s voice. The governor’s husband sounded edgy. He said he was unhappy that Mr. Harris had hired John Bitney as his chief of staff, the speaker recalled. Mr. Bitney was a high school classmate of the Palins and had worked for Ms. Palin. But she fired Mr. Bitney after learning that he had fallen in love with another longtime friend.
“I understood from the call that Todd wasn’t happy with me hiring John and he’d like to see him not there,” Mr. Harris said.
Excuse me, Todd Palin, but who elected you to anything? Is this what we can expect if Sarah Palin becomes Vice President or—God forbid—President? I seem to recall much pearl clutching and tsk-tsking over Hillary Clinton’s more active role in her husband’s administration. I would hope people would find Todd’s inserting himself into policy decisions equally disturbing.
Ah, who am I kidding. IOKIYAR.
Bottom line is, Sarah Palin looks like George W. Bush. With lipstick.