Too Many Questions; Time for Answers

Washington Matters

Too Many Questions; Time for Answers

It's far too early to judge the fallout from the various revelations that have besieged the Republicans since John McCain surprised the world -- and much of his staff -- with the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. How it all plays out -- even whether Palin can survive politically -- will depend ultimately on how much more there is to know and how well she handles questions about everything from her daughter's pregnancy to an ethics probe over the sacking of a top state official.

Her speech tomorrow night will be crucial in allowing people to form a first impression, but that highly scripted event can only go so far. The big question is how she does when she finally holds a news conference -- and how long it takes the McCain team to realize that step is essential.

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There will undoubtedly be lots of questions on Palin's personal life -- all fair game under the circumstances and especially when it was Palin and McCain that took the first step in using her children to make the point that she's the kind of woman who can do it all -- manage a family and a career at the same time. But more important questions concern policy and whether she really is all that McCain presented her to be. Some possibilities:

Is it true that as Mayor of Wasilla, you hired the lobbying firm of Sen. Ted Stevens' former chief of staff to secure $27 million in earmarked pork for the town -- about $1,000 per resident -- in just one year?  The Washington Post says that includes a $15 million rail project to connect Wasilla with Girdwood, where Stevens has a home. If the report is true, how can you now argue that you are an opponent of the earmarks that McCain opposes so strongly?


Is it true that you were for "the bridge to nowherebefore you were against it? You took credit at your introduction last week for being the one who finally said no to the bridge, but news reports say you backed the project until it became clear the cost was rising and the federal government wouldn't pay any more. Is that true? And is it true that instead of returning the federal money for the bridge, you chose to divert it to another pork project?

Were you in fact a member of the Alaska independent party for two years and a backer of its push to have Alaska secede from the United States that you now want to be vice president of?

Leaving aside whether you had good reason to be concerned about your brother-in-law's behavior, did you use the power of your office as governor to try to get him fired and ultimately to force the resignation of the state public safety commissioner? And did you deny exerting pressure before admitting you did, as news reports say?

Do you still believe in abstinence-only sex education?


When did you tell John McCain's staff about your daughter's pregnancy? Were you aware that the disclosure was sure to prompt a media frenzy and did you consider the effect on your daughter and her fiance in deciding whether to accept McCain's offer? Do you feel that despite the responsibility of raising a child with disabilities and providing support for your teenage daughter that you can devote the time necessary to be vice president -- and president, if necessary? Do you think such questions are unfair and sexist?

Perhaps readers have questions of their own? Please add them in the comment section below.