Published on Tuesday, September 30, 2008 12:39 AM AKDT
Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP vice presidential nominee, agreed to a request by her hometown newspaper, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, for an interview by providing written responses via e-mail to the following questions. The responses here were not edited and are preceded by the verbatim questions posed to her.
My analysis in italics following her answers, because I know you're breathless with anticipation.
1. Your name had been whispered as one of any number of potential Sen. John McCain running mates for months before the official announcement. At what time did you realize you had a legitimate chance to be that choice?
I first met John seven months ago in Washington. I was immediately impressed by the Senator’s candor, warmth and humor. We are both mavericks, and we hit it off right away. The idea of this being a possibility became real when I flew to Arizona three days before I was announced as his selection.
Kinda confirms that there was no serious vetting, eh?
2. What successes did you have and what mistakes did you make during your time on Wasilla City Council and as Wasilla mayor?
Since my time as a city councilmember, mayor, and now, of course, as governor, I’ve been an active reformer. Right away, I think I saw that Wasilla’s government as a “good old boys network” — and knew we had an opportunity to change and progress this city. When I was elected mayor, I immediately took charge and shook things up, as you know. Our tax cuts and strategy for growth were big successes. The big mistake is always underestimating how much opposition you face as a real reformer, but I love the valley so much I was going to do what the city council staff and I felt was right for the people who live and work here.
Good answer, albeit typical politico answer.
3. We’re confident you were aware that being added to the presidential ticket would open up your personal life to public scrutiny. Were you prepared for the level of media and tabloid coverage of your past and family? Please explain how you and your family are dealing with this and whether you believe your family — and those of the other three candidates on the national ticket — are out of bounds, or does the public have a legitimate interest in the private lives of candidates?
Nothing really prepares you for hatred and made-up stories. But it’s nothing like the hard times of a family that’s lost a job, lost health insurance, or lost a son or daughter in battle. I would hope that the privacy of my children would be respected, as has been the tradition for the children of previous candidates. Obviously, it hasn’t been so far. I think part of the media frenzy is because I haven’t been a part of the Washington establishment and that I’m not as well known to the powers that be in Washington. I’m not going to win over anyone in the media elite — I’m going to do my best for the American people. And of course all candidates want to shield their children from the rancor and bitterness. My personal e-mails being hacked into really took the cake because of all the violation of confidence and privacy that others felt when they saw the e-mails they sent to me were posted on Web sites around the world. Concern for my family’s safety was also paramount because pictures and contact information for my kids were published and their receipt of all the harassing calls and messages has been very concerning.
She's right about what caused the media frenzy, and she's right that her kids shouldn't have been dragged into it. My follow-up question would have to be 'Define media elite'.
4. As you are traveling around the country, what are you hearing from Americans about the energy crisis and what do you think Alaska can contribute to solving the problem?
The American people understand that we are on an unsustainable path — we rely on countries that don’t like us very much to provide fuel for our cars and trucks and oil to heat our homes, places of business and schools. John McCain and I know that we need a comprehensive “all of the above” approach, keeping all options on the table including more domestic drilling, wind, solar, hydrogen, natural gas, clean coal, geothermal and bio fuels. As governor, I pushed for the largest infrastructure project in North America, the natural gas pipeline that will provide new supply and price relief from Alaska to Americans in the Lower 48. We are maximizing the recovery of resources and minimizing waste, helping lead to less dependence on foreign supplies. Our dependence on foreign energy must end, and Alaska, with all its resources, will play a major role. It’s been great being able to tell that story to America and world leaders who are excited about Alaska’s role in our world.
She does appear to be fairly well-versed on energy issues, based on this and some clips I've seen of her on this topic. However, it tends to be Alaska-centric. Not surprising, but Alaska is a special place. And I don't mean that snarkily.
5. Since your campaign began, you’ve stated you opposed the “Bridge to Nowhere” and have called it that. What caused you to change your stance on building the bridge? Also, do you still support construction of the Knik Arm bridge? Why or why not?
After taking office and examining the project closely, realizing the Feds were not going to fund it as Alaskans had assumed was the case, I cancelled the project. Even the Alaska Democratic Party credited me, or blamed me, with killing the bridge to nowhere until I became the vice presidential nominee and they removed this reference from their website. Alaskans will have to prioritize for the Knik Arm Crossing if it is truly a top state priority because Congress won’t fund it either. John and I believe there will be earmark reform in Congress because it’s a corrupted system.
6. During your tenure as mayor in 2000, then police chief Charlie Fannon commented in a May 23, 2000 Frontiersman article about legislation Gov. Tony Knowles signed protecting victims of sexual assault from being billed for rape kits collected by police as part of their investigations. Fannon revealed then that Knowles’ decision would cost Wasilla $5,000 to $14,000 a year, insinuating that the department’s policy was to bill victims for this testing. During your tenure as Mayor, what was the police department and city’s standard operating procedure in recovering costs of rape kits? Were any sexual assault victims ever charged for this testing while you were mayor?The entire notion of making a victim of a crime pay for anything is crazy. I do not believe, nor have I ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test. As governor, I worked in a variety of ways to tackle the problem of sexual assault and rape, including making domestic violence a priority of my administration.
Non-answer answer. And lying liar.
7. Reporters from around the globe have been investigating policies and decisions you made during your time as Wasilla mayor. Regarding the flap over questioning then library director Mary Ellen Emmons, at the time in December 1996 you said inquiries you made to her about censoring materials in the library were “rhetorical.” Please explain. Were there books at the library at that time you wanted removed? Was there ever a list of books you didn’t want at the Wasilla library? Also, a San Francisco man recently donated two books to the Wasilla library that attempt to explain homosexual family life to children. Do you see any reason these books should not be placed on the library’s shelves?
As people there know, all questions posed to the library director were asked in a context of professionalism, regarding the library policy that was in place. Before I became mayor, there was conversation in our community about what sorts of books were appropriate for the public library. I asked the librarian about the process for answering that question as a way to familiarize myself with city staff and the issues being discussed in Wasilla at that time. I certainly never advocated banning books. This was a ridiculous, false claim. Supposedly one of the books the media claims I banned was “Harry Potter,” which wasn’t even published back then. There were never any books banned and any reports claiming otherwise are grossly false.
I’ve always believed the government closest to the people governs best, so I won’t try to second-guess local officials back home.
She gets an A for this one. Internet maguffin. Unless it's one of those lying liar things. But without being able to read her mind, have to give her the benefit of the doubt here.
8. If the McCain-Palin ticket is elected, you would be the first female vice president and it’s conceivable you could be the first female president in the history of the United States. Can you put into words what this means to you and to women everywhere?
First and foremost, my selection means there is a clear answer when you ask “who are the real reformers?” in this race. John McCain and I are the agents of change. This is a great responsibility, but it’s wanted and appreciated. I’m not going to let women, or John McCain, or anyone else down in carrying out the responsibilities I have as a candidate and hope to have as Vice President.
Non-answer answer. Blew an opportunity to discuss how one can be a conservative and a feminist. The two are not mutually exclusive.
9. You’ve stated on the trail that you would be an advocate for families with special needs, yet the state of Alaska has a Developmental Disabilities Waiting List with more than 900 people waiting for the critical assistance they need. The latest report said it would take $45 million dollars to eradicate this waiting list. What is your administration doing to address the issues that families with special needs face?
In March 2008, I signed legislation reforming Alaska’s education funding formula to bring more accountability and predictability. The legislation increases funding for students with special needs from $26,900 to $73,840 per student. It is our hope that by providing the necessary funding support, we can touch more children with special needs who did not have opportunities before due to the prohibitive costs of providing the appropriate care. I’m an advocate for special needs children. Ever since I took the chief executive’s job up North, I’ve pushed for more funding for students with special needs. It’s touched my heart for years, especially with the beautiful addition to our family 13 years ago, of our nephew with autism, then with the birth of our beautiful baby boy, Trig, we joined so many American families that know that some of life’s greatest joys come with unique challenges. We’re going to make sure the government is on their side. John McCain and I have a vision of an America where every child is cherished.
Maybe the ultimate non-answer answer. Alaska has a seperate agency, as I'm sure most states do, that deal with disabilities and special needs. What they do and what is required through the school system are two different things. Did not address the waiting list, which is available as a PDF at the Alaska DD Agency website.
10.Alaska has the third worst children’s health insurance program in the country. It covers children who live in families that earn up to 175% of the poverty level, while 47 other states do much more. Is your administration working on a plan to improve this?
I know the challenges that families without health insurance face. I know about the tough decisions and I know about their worries. There were times that Todd and I didn’t have health insurance. Believe me — that is a very scary thing for a family. John McCain and I have a detailed plan that includes providing a $5,000 tax credit to families so they can buy health insurance. That policy will be theirs — it will make quality health care accessible and affordable. I’m going to work to put this plan in effect so that every family in America can have access to quality, affordable health care.
Doesn't address the question...Surprise! They're asking what her administration as Alaska Governor is doing to address the issue.
11. Prior to the Aug. 29 announcement of your choice as the Republican vice presidential running mate, you addressed what has become known as “Troopergate.” At that time, you said you would welcome an investigation into the controversy. Please explain why now state employees are not responding to subpoenas from the Legislature’s investigators.I am an open book on this matter and am fully cooperating with the non-political, legally appropriate and independent investigation of the Personnel Board. I have agreed to produce all documents, and am scheduling meetings with its investigator, Mr. Petumenos. Todd is also willing to speak with the new investigator, as are staff members. Walt Monegan has acknowledged I did not, nor did Todd, nor did any staff member, tell him to fire anyone. Walt was offered another position because he was not willing to implement the Palin-Parnell administration’s agenda to find efficiencies in every state department so that the public could be better served, and to fill the vacant trooper positions that I fought hard to fund. As far as those who work with me in state government, I know that the Attorney General is questioning the validity of the subpoenas and has asked the Court for guidance. Once AG Colberg receives guidance, I am sure that he will pass along his professional opinion to the government employees. The threats against my family that were made by an Alaska state trooper are a separate issue and the details of “Tasergate” are in the political record now.
An open book with no print on the pages.
12. On Sept. 19, Attorney General Colberg wrote a letter stating he had confirmed with bar counsel that his contact with former Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan did not create a conflict of interest. If this is the case, why have you hired private counsel in the Monegan inquiry? Are attorneys from the McCain/Palin campaign advising the Department of Law as well as Thomas Van Flein?
The subpoenas were responded to. The Attorney General has determined that there are valid challenges to the subpoenas, so he filed a motion to quash the subpoenas in court. Until motions are decided, the employees are not obligated to testify. We hired private counsel to assist us with the legal questions that have arisen in the course of the inquiry and to ensure that Alaskans would not have to foot the bill. McCain-Palin lawyers are not advising the Department of Law, and of course Thomas Van Flein consults with attorneys as he determines is necessary.
An A for this one, as well.
13. Being on the campaign trail, how involved are you in the day-to-day operations of running the state of Alaska? Following up, to what extent is the McCain-Palin campaign involved in state government operations?
I have contact every day with staff. The McCain-Palin campaign is not involved in operating state government. The day-to-day operations of Alaska are foremost on my mind as I speak to Americans about our great state and how Alaskans can contribute to the future of our nation. There is great satisfaction in knowing that the Alaskans who work with me know my priorities and know the direction in which I want to take this state. They continue to work on my priorities while I remain on the road. The campaign is not involved in state government operations. The campaign is responding to the hundreds of media calls coming into Alaska not because I am Governor, but because I am a Vice Presidential candidate. I appreciate the support and the ability to keep my state staff separate and apart from the campaign staff.
Sounds good, although there have been reports that calls to the Governor's office were being redirected to the McCain campaign and there have been a lot of protests in Alaska. I can only take her word on this one, since I don't live there. If any of my Alaska readers want to chime in, feel free (that's a joke, btw).
14. What message do you have for the people of the Mat-Su Valley and state of Alaska from the campaign trail?
Americans are excited about Alaska, and everywhere we go, people bring out their Alaska ball caps and Alaska flags and other memorabilia that says “Alaska.” The warmth and support Americans have toward our great state grows every day and I so enjoy sharing our story. John McCain and I continue to provide hope to those who want change in Washington. We can bring the reform from our states to the nation’s capitol, and I look forward to doing it with your help and support.
Good answer. I think she really loves her state.