Monday, September 15, 2008

More of the same

A story in the NYT reveals several disturbing similarities between the governing stylings of Sarah Palin and George Bush.

Palin (from the Times story):
Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained y The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.

[...]

While Ms. Palin took office promising a more open government, her administration has battled to keep information secret. Her inner circle discussed the benefit of using private e-mail addresses. An assistant told her it appeared that such e-mail messages sent to a private address on a “personal device” like a BlackBerry “would be confidential and not subject to subpoena.”
Bush (from the public record):
The White House acknowledged yesterday that e-mails dealing with official government business may have been lost because they were improperly sent through private accounts intended to be used for political activities. Democrats have been seeking such missives as part of an investigation into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Administration officials said they could offer no estimate of how many e-mails were lost but indicated that some may involve messages from White House senior adviser Karl Rove, whose role in the firings has been under scrutiny by congressional Democrats.
Palin:
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 a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.
Bush:
But then came Michael Brown. When President Bush's former point man on disasters was discovered to have more expertise about the rules of Arabian horse competition than about the management of a catastrophe, it was a reminder that the competence of government officials who are not household names can have a life or death impact. The Brown debacle has raised pointed questions about whether political connections, not qualifications, have helped an unusually high number of Bush appointees land vitally important jobs in the Federal Government.
Palin:
Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.
Bush:
Perhaps the biggest revelation from Scott McClellan's bombshell book about his time at the White House is that President Bush directly authorized the leak of Valerie Plame's identity.

[...]

The president was leaving an event in North Carolina, McClellan recalled, and as they walked to Air Force One a reporter yelled out a question: Had the president, who had repeatedly condemned the selective release of secret intelligence information, enabled Scooter Libby to leak classified information to The New York Times to bolster the administration's arguments for war?

McClellan took the question to the president, telling Bush: "He's saying you yourself were the one that authorized the leaking of this information."

"And he said, 'Yeah, I did.' And I was kind of taken aback," McClellan said.
Palin:
Another confidante of Ms. Palin’s is Ms. Frye, 27. She worked as a receptionist for State Senator Lyda Green before she joined Ms. Palin’s campaign for governor. Now Ms. Frye earns $68,664 as a special assistant to the governor. Her frequent interactions with Ms. Palin’s children have prompted some lawmakers to refer to her as “the babysitter,” a title that Ms. Frye disavows.

Like Mr. Bailey, she is an effusive cheerleader for her boss.

“YOU ARE SO AWESOME!” Ms. Frye typed in an e-mail message to Ms. Palin in March.
Bush:
"You are the best governor ever - deserving of great respect," Harriet E. Miers wrote to George W. Bush days after his 51st birthday in July 1997. She also found him "cool," said he and his wife, Laura, were "the greatest!" and told him: "Keep up the great work. Texas is blessed."
Palin:
Rick Steiner, a University of Alaska professor, sought the e-mail messages of state scientists who had examined the effect of global warming on polar bears. (Ms. Palin said the scientists had found no ill effects, and she has sued the federal government to block the listing of the bears as endangered.) An administration official told Mr. Steiner that his request would cost $468,784 to process.

When Mr. Steiner finally obtained the e-mail messages — through a federal records request — he discovered that state scientists had in fact agreed that the bears were in danger, records show.

“Their secrecy is off the charts,” Mr. Steiner said.
Bush:
The order to squelch talk about polar bears came in a "new requirement" listing to government scientists traveling abroad. Henceforth, if they are participating in a meeting "involving or potentially involving climate change, sea ice, and/or polar bears," they need to report this and have a spokesperson assigned to articulate the administration's policies. Fish and Wildlife officials want to be sure that "the one responding to questions on these issues, particularly polar bears," understands the administration's position on these topics.
Palin:
Many lawmakers contend that Ms. Palin is overly reliant on a small inner circle that leaves her isolated.
Bush:
Bush has a long record of avoiding critics, rewarding loyalty even in the face of failure and shunning - even punishing - those who disagree with him. It's a management style that shapes how he governs - disdaining compromise with Democrats in Congress, for example - and one that brushes off whole sectors of the American electorate.
Palin:
Democrats and Republicans alike describe her as often missing in action. Since taking office in 2007, Ms. Palin has spent 312 nights at her Wasilla home, some 600 miles to the north of the governor’s mansion in Juneau, records show.

During the last legislative session, some lawmakers became so frustrated with her absences that they took to wearing “Where’s Sarah?” pins.
Bush:
Bush has spent well over a year at his Crawford, Texas ranch, well over a year at Camp David, and has attended 95 sports-related events.

[...]

Bush has made 142 trips to the Camp David presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains. It adds up to 450 days, a number Knoller says Bush has challenged because it includes some partial days.

Bush has had 17 foreign leaders visit him at Camp David, starting with then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair in February 2001.

Knoller's numbers show that Bush has made 74 trips to his Crawford ranch, for a total of 466 days. He also has made 10 trips, not counting this weekend's, to his parents' place in Kennebunkport, Maine.
If you believe, like Frank Rich, that Palin will play Dick Cheney to John McCain’s pliant George Bush, and you believe, like most people, that the Bush administration has been an unmitigated disaster, this is troubling.

Change, indeed. They must mean the kind of change in which everything stays the same.

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