The L.A. Times has this article coming out in this morning’s edition about Sarah Palin’s governing style. It portrays Palin as a mixed bag, with both admirers and detractors. But in reality, the story itself is something of a mixed bag — with some complimentary material, but other portions that only give half the story.
Let’s take the good in the piece first. It opens with a complimentary enough story:
Three years ago, when a Democratic state legislator tried to get bipartisan support for investigating charges of unethical conduct by a senior Republican official, only one member of the GOP answered the call: Sarah Palin.
Palin pursued the allegations — as well as ethics charges against another top GOP official — so vigorously that both had to leave office.
The public acclaim that followed helped propel her into the governor’s office a year later with promises of reform and a more open, accountable government that would stand up to entrenched interests, including the big oil companies.
And early on we are told:
Even her critics credit Palin with a major role in pushing a state known for its relaxed approach to political ethics into a long-overdue housecleaning. And Palin has pushed hard to make oil companies pay more for access to the state’s oil and gas reserves.
That’s odd for a candidate that some of the goofier liberals have been trying to label as a “Big Oil” candidate. The article also says:
No one questions her readiness to fight for cleaner government either. After she agreed in 2005 to help Democratic legislator Eric Croft get an independent investigation of state Atty. Gen. Gregg Renkes, she immediately incurred the wrath of the party establishment. The same thing had happened a year earlier, when she raised conflict-of-interest allegations against the state GOP chairman, Randy Ruedrich, who had sat with her on the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Palin was vindicated in both cases: Ruedrich resigned from the commission and paid a $12,000 ethics fine. The attorney general also resigned and received a reprimand.
. . . .
Croft, who is running for mayor of Anchorage and backing the Barack Obama-Joe Biden ticket, said he was impressed with Palin’s willingness to join him in the case involving the attorney general.
“She got it right away” and never backed down, Croft said. “Her sense was that this was wrong and that she had to speak out.”
So when the Andrew Sullivans of the world ask for evidence that Palin is a reformer, well — there you have it, straight out of the neocon right-wing mouths of the L.A. Times.
But of course, the editors feel the need to attack Palin as well. That’s fine — if they’re going to back up what they say and provide the whole story. Unfortunately, the article falls short in this respect.
For example, with respect to Tasergate, the article claims that “last week she moved to hobble a legislative inquiry into her role in the firing of a state public safety official” and adds later in the article that “Palin has started a legal maneuver to prevent that inquiry from going forward.”
What the article fails to disclose is that Palin has sought to have the inquiry conducted by the body authorized to do so by statute. Let’s go to the local paper:
Gov. Sarah Palin wants a state board to review the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan — taking the unusual step of making an ethics complaint against herself.
Her lawyer sent an “ethics disclosure” Monday night to Attorney General Talis Colberg. The governor asked that it go to the three-person Personnel Board as a complaint. While ethics complaints are usually confidential, Palin wants the matter open.
The lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, also asked the state Legislature to drop its own investigation into the Monegan matter. He says the Personnel Board has jurisdiction over ethics.
Ah. So, she wants the investigation taken away from a partisan Democrat who has already declared, well before the probe is over, that 1) it is going to end badly for Palin, and 2) it will be an “October surprise.” Instead, she wants the probe conducted by the panel authorized to do so by statute — a panel peopled by three persons appointed by the previous Governor (one of whom was re-appointed by Palin).
That’s not quite the same thing as trying to block any investigation. It sounds to me more like someone trying to stop from getting railroaded by a partisan who has already made up his mind and is acting extralegally to target a political opponent. Regardless of personal views, however, it would be nice for the paper to tell readers that Palin has sought the opening of an investigation, and argues that it is the only legal way to proceed.
The article also claims:
She used the line-item veto this year to cut funding for $268 million in capital projects from spending bills, including money for a senior citizens center and batting cages for the Ketchikan Little League. At the same time, the Anchorage Daily News reported, she preserved $2 million for an academic conference highlighting arguments that global warming isn’t threatening the survival of polar bears.
Hm. Sounds like she supports the conference. At least, that’s what you might think if you didn’t read the Anchorage Daily News article in question:
She also didn’t veto a controversial $2 million for an “academic based” conference meant to highlight arguments that global warming isn’t threatening the survival of polar bears.
Palin didn’t think she could legally veto that money because it’s a “reappropriation” of money left over from another project. But she doesn’t support the conference and wants to get legislative leaders to use the money for the state’s lawsuit against the listing of polar bears as threatened.
By the way, anyone concerned about Gov. Palin’s willingness to cut excessive spending should read through that article, start to finish. It’s full of liberal handwringing about how her cuts went too deep — why do we need these cuts if we have a surplus? goes the cry. That’s exactly the sort of person I want in Washington — and it counters the portrayal of her in recent days as an earmark-grabbing, debt-incurring fiscal disaster. Read the article, and feel heartened at the idea that true fiscal conservatism may be coming to Washington.
The bottom line here is simple: just the facts, L.A. Times, OK? I understand you said a few nice things about Palin, since apparently a lot of people had nice things to say. But in the places where you want to criticize, just give us both sides of the story. Is that really asking too much?
Don’t answer that.