On Friday, I heard one of the wikipedia founders mention that Sarah Palin's wikipedia entry had been extensively edited in the week or two before the announcement of her selection by McCain. The person doing the editing had signed in with a false name, and the changes were favorable, so wikipedia suspected something not-quite-right was up and they froze the entry.
This, of course, piqued my curiosity and went to see what wikipedia had to say. Many people do not know that wikipedia keeps a log of changes, and you can pick a date to compare the current entry to. I chose a date at the end of July. The changes mostly consisted of making her image more polished.
For instance, regarding her beauty queen experience: "In 1984, Palin competed in the Miss Alaska contest after being chosen Miss Wasilla that year" was changed to "In 1984, Palin won the Miss Wasilla beauty contest (playing the flute), then finished second in the Miss Alaska pageant,at which she won a college scholarship and the "Miss Congeniality" award." This makes it seem less like a meat market and more like a talent contest and scholarship opportunity.
==Wrongful Dismissal Suit==
The story of how she fired Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan was also cleaned up a bit.
In July, Palin fired Commissioner of Public Safety, Walt Monegan. He claimed he was fired over his reluctance to fire an Alaska State Trooper involved in a divorce and child custody battle with Palin's sister. In the earlier report, Palin said he was fired so the department could move in a "new direction". There is an investigation into the matter, with a report due in October.
The edit added that Monegan was dismissed for "performance-related issues", and says Palin offered him an alternative position as executive director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which he turned down. Regarding the charge of inappropriate pressure, Palin has apparently "discovered" that, unbeknownst to her, her staff had contacted Monegan about two dozen times on this matter. She has hired counsel.
Not exactly a positive spin, but the newer article goes on to say that Kopp, the man Palin chose to replace Monegan, resigned only two weeks later when it was revealed that he had received a letter of reprimand for sexual harrassment in his previous position.
An article in the Anchorage Daily News
on the 2006 gubernatorial race was quoted.
On marijuana: "Palin said she has smoked marijuana -- remember, it was legal under state law, she said, even if illegal under U.S. law -- but says she didn't like it and doesn't smoke it now."
On Abortion: "In 2002, when she was running for lieutenant governor, Palin sent an e-mail to the anti-abortion Alaska Right to Life Board saying she was as "pro-life as any candidate can be" and has "adamantly supported our cause since I first understood, as a child, the atrocity of abortion.""
On Gay Marriage:"...she supported the 1998 constitutional amendment.[banning gay marriage and defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.]
Elected officials can't defy the court when it comes to how rights are applied, she said, but she would support a ballot question that would deny benefits to homosexual couples.
"I believe that honoring the family structure is that important," Palin said. "
The rest of this is all in the current wikipedia article.
==Autocratic Management Style==
Palin has a high-handed, centralized approach to governing. When she became Mayor, she fired most of the people in town government who did not support her, including the Wasilla police chief, librarian, public works director and finance director. She also tried to get books that she found objectionable removed from the library, but when the town residents pushed back, she let it drop and rehired the librarian. After that, she instituted a policy requiring department heads to get her approval before talking to reporters.
She did something similar when she became governor. She fired a number of people who had been recently appointed by the outgoing governor.
I do not like this. It sounds like more of Bush's "I'm the decider -- and to hell with you" mentality.
As mayor, Palin was very successful at lobbying for and getting federal funds earmarked for projects in Wasilla. She got nearly 27 million dollars in earmarked funds -- not bad for a community of less than 7000 people.
She ran for governor on a "build the Gravina Island bridge" platform, but when the bridge became known as the "bridge to nowhere" Congress changed the earmark to be for general infrastructure. Palin chose to use the money to continue road construction to the bridge location while investigating less-expensive alternatives to the bridge itself. Eventually, she announced that she was stopping work on the bridge. This earned her brownie points as an anti-earmark fiscal conservative, and brought her to McCain's attention. On accepting McCain's nomination, she said "I told Congress, thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere". This upset political leaders in Ketchikan, including Palin's campaign coordinator there, Mike Elerding, who is quoted in wikipedia as saying, "She said 'thanks but no thanks,' but they kept the money."
Palin is also on record opposing the listing of the Polar bear as an endangered species, and for extending the practice of shooting wolves and bears from airplanes.
What exactly is Palin's experience?
Two terms as city councilor, Wasilla AK (population 6715)
Two terms as mayor, Wasilla AK
Unsuccessful bid for Leutenant governor, 2002
Successful bid for governor, 2006. Outgoing governer Murkowski in midst of a scandal.
As governor of Alaska, she is Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard. McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds gave this as an example of foreign policy experience. However, the commander of the Guard, Major General Craig E. Campbell, said that Palin plays no role in national defense activities relating to the Guard. Palin visited the Guard in Kuwait and in Germany; other than to Canada, that seems to have been her first trip out of the US.
==Probably Irrelevant but Interesting==
Todd, Sarah Palin's husband, is a four-time champion of the Iron Dog, the world's longest snowmobile race. Todd also has a native (Yup'ik) grandmother, which makes his and Sarah's children one-eighth Alaskan Native. Haven't heard that talked up at all.
We will see what we will see.