The House That Todd Built
By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson
It’s funny how things happen. On October 14, 1962, I was fixing lunch for my three children, who were 1, 4, and 5, when the phone rang. Someone was doing a survey of radio listeners. “Is your radio on now?” she asked. It wasn’t. We both hung up. I don’t know why, but I turned on the radio. Two somber-voiced men were speculating about which crisis President Kennedy was going to talk about when he came on to address the nation in a few minutes.
I was 26, a housewife and mother by day and a medical transcriptionist after the children went to bed at night, too busy with my own problems to pay much attention to the world outside my windows. That afternoon I’d planned to wash said windows with vinegar and newspaper, a technique both cheap and effective.
“Which crisis?” I thought. “How many do we have?” The men on the radio were saying something about Cuba and the possibility of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Always the practical one, I changed my plans. No point in washing windows if they’re going to get blown out. I decided to take the kids to the park and enjoy October’s bright blue weather. (That’s the title of a mildly schlocky poem one of my grammar school teachers made me memorize. Mercifully, I’ve forgotten all but its one good line.)
That day, with its multiplicity of crises, has been in my mind this weekend as commenters and pundits and assorted political junkies (I put myself in that last category) debate which scandal has led Sarah Palin to toss in the towel.
You know Palin, the soon-to-become ex-governor of Alaska. Maybe you’ve missed it, instead enjoying the Fourth of July weekend, which is, in New England, the first two consecutive days — no, make that the first two days, period — of sunshine and no rain since May 26. If so, good on ya. I’ve been transfixed.
Palin announced on Friday (1) that she wasn’t going to run for a second term as governor and (2) that she is giving up the office on July 26, 17 months before her term ends. She did it in a messily-prepared speech (transcript is here) delivered on the lawn of her lakefront Wasilla home at 11 a.m., perfectly timed to give evening newscasters on the East Coast a major adrenaline rush and likely designed to be drowned out by the weekend’s festivities.
Not only did she neglect to tell the Republican Party, state or national, she also blindsided the state’s lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell, who will replace her. She left some members of her family in the dark, but not, she says, her children. They got to vote on whether she should quit, she said.
In fact, this decision comes after much consideration, and finally polling the most important people in my life – my children (where the count was unanimous… well, in response to asking: “Want me to make a positive difference and fight for ALL our children’s future from outside the Governor’s office?” It was four “yes’s” and one “hell yeah!” The “hell yeah” sealed it – and someday I’ll talk about the details of that.
I can’t wait to hear about the details of that vote. Palin has five children, so five votes wouldn’t rank up there with Iran in terms of more votes cast than there are voters — except for one thing: The youngest of the five Palin voters was born April 18, 2008, making him one year, two months, two weeks, and one day old on July 3. Did he say just “yes,” or was he the one who said, “hell yeah”?
Scandal One: The woman is a pathological liar. But you don’t get prosecuted for that. Sometimes you get elected.
Skipping merrily over incipient scandals two through six (numbers arbitrarily assigned) here’s the best, most likely reason for the Palin resignation. It’s one I mentioned in a post last November: While Palin, then mayor of Wasilla, was building her town of maybe 9,000 people a $12.5 million sports center and hockey rink, her husband Todd was building the family’s lakefront home, site of last Friday’s resignation speech. Last year, near the end of a Village Voice article on Palin, comes this:
Todd Palin told Fox News that he built the two-story, 3,450-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath, wood house himself, with the help of contractors he described as “buddies.” As mayor, Sarah Palin blocked an effort to require the filing of building permits in the wide-open city, and there is no public record of who the “buddies” were. The house was built very near the complex, on a site whose city purchase led to years of unsuccessful litigation and, now, $1.3 million in additional costs, with a law firm that’s also donated to Palin collecting costly fees from the city.
Now there’s this, from The Brad Blog. As you read, repeat to yourself, “This is only a rumor; this is only a rumor.”
Okay, I’ve now been able to get independent information from multiple sources that all of this precedes what are said to be possible federal indictments against Palin, concerning an embezzlement scandal related to the building of Palin’s house and the Wasilla Sports Complex, built during her tenure as Mayor. Both structures, it is said, feature the “same windows, same wood, same products.” Federal investigators have been looking into this for some time, and indictments could be imminent, according to the Alaska sources.
The BRAD BLOG has not been able to receive confirm from any federal sources on this. Our information comes from local Alaskans who follow Palin, and who have been keeping an eye on this for some time, while keeping it quiet at the request of federal investigators.
Palin is, of course, biting back with futile threats of suing various bloggers for libel. Only one problem with that. Public figures can’t sue for libel, not in the U.S., anyway (they can in England.) You put yourself out there, you take what you get. She could, to be sure, give some folks a major migraine by filing suit, if she could get a lawyer to forget what he knows about politicians and libel, but the motion to dismiss the suit would surely succeed.
Why else would she have called a press conference so hastily that few reporters were able to attend? Why else would she have delivered that crazy, rambling, borderline incoherent speech? Why would she not have told any of the people who should have known before the fact? Why did she suggest in many places in the speech that she’s done with politics?
Of all the conjectures about the reason for her resignation, this one makes the most sense to me. I know you’ll stay tuned. This is getting way interesting.
Posted on July 5th, 2009 by Miryam Ehrlich Williamson
Filed under: Palin