The Shipping News is a fantastic book by E. Annie Proulx. She also wrote Brokeback Mountain. The Shipping News is great, because it brings alive the feel of an isolated Northern town in Newfoundland through the eyes of a transplanted New York journalist. Remember how I said I like wacky tales? Good grief, can Proulx tell a wacky tale. Really bi-zarre. Right up there with Katherine Dunn, who wrote Geek Love, one of my all time favorite, albeit imperfect, books.
So it’s basically the same type of environment as Wasilla, AK, and apparently, the news angle was quite accurate. One of the weird things about living in a place like Wasilla is that everybody knows everybody. And I mean they know everybody. Dirty secrets and all. So when your family has a meltdown, it’s usually quite public, and it’s reported on in the local paper. And the tone of the report isn’t like reading a paper in a metropolitan area–it’s quite conversational, and sometimes unbelievably funny as a result. It’s often got the drama of Shakespeare and the grit of Bukowski. In short, it is one wacky tale.
So imagine my delight when I discovered the Anchorage Daily News had picked up the so-called “Troopergate” story from Wasilla. Oh. my. word. You thought this election couldn’t get weirder? Ha! Picture this: The party not known for standing up for women is standing up for women by choosing a woman to run for the 2nd highest office in the land. And guess what? Her personal narrative is half inspirational story and half modern romance novel. And by modern romance novel I mean the story of a woman with insanely feminist accomplishments who also has a life of roiling passion underneath. You have got to read this rather lengthy article in the Anchorage Daily News. It is a crazy piece of almost-journalism written by someone who clearly knows some of the parties involved, but which still manages to give a thorough account. That is straight out of The Shipping News, seriously. I’m not even telling you to take anything as fact, I’m just promoting it as literature. Here is just a tease:
He’s the governor’s ex-brother-in-law, and his job as an Alaska State Trooper is drawing scrutiny in a way rarely seen except in cases of killings by officers.
Legislators are seriously considering hiring an independent investigator to examine whether Gov. Sarah Palin, her aides or her husband pressured commanders to fire Trooper Mike Wooten, and whether she then fired the state’s top cop when Wooten stayed on the job. Palin denies anything like that happened.
All that aside, what kind of trooper is Mike Wooten?
The picture painted by the Palins is pretty bad. The trooper brass isn’t saying one way or another, citing personnel rules that protect his files. Union leaders defend him as a dedicated trooper who was already punished for his mistakes.
Efforts to speak with Wooten were unsuccessful. He did not return phone calls when the controversy first began two weeks ago. He now is out of the country on a long-planned vacation, said John Cyr, executive director of the Public Safety Employees Association, the union for troopers. They are not in touch. An e-mail to Wooten was answered with an out-of-the-office auto reply.
Wooten is 35, a state trooper since March 2001 and an Air Force veteran. He’s a father of young children who has been married and divorced four times.
The accusations are detailed in two thick binders, the result of a nearly yearlong investigation by troopers. When the investigation appeared to stall, Palin — more than a year before she was elected governor, and about two months before launching her campaign — pushed trooper commanders to take action against Wooten. At one point, Palin and her husband, Todd, hired a private investigator.
Then it goes on to document every sordid detail that went down, occasionally slipping out of the obvious attempt at a journalistic tone. Example:
One day — maybe a year or two before the investigation — Wooten showed his stepson his Taser. He had just been to Taser instructor school. Wooten told Sgt. Wall that the boy was fascinated and pleaded to be tased.
“So we went in our living room and I had him get down on his knees so he wouldn’t fall. And I taped the probes to him and turned the Taser on for like a second, turned it off. He thought that was the greatest thing in the world, wanted to do it again,” Wooten told the investigator. The boy flinched but nothing more, he said. The boy was about 11 at the time.
In his interview with troopers, the stepson said it hurt for about a second, according to Wall’s report. The boy said he wanted to be tased to show his cousin, Palin’s daughter Bristol, that he wasn’t a mama’s boy. The probe left a welt on his arm, he said. His mother was upstairs yelling at them not to do it, the boy said.
As Bristol remembered it, the jolt knocked the boy backward, the trooper report says. She said she was afraid.
The whole thing is worth reading, really. I know gossip is shallow, but it’s also fun, so sue me. FTR, I’m not laughing at the very serious issue of whether or not this man may be psychotic toward the women in his life, because I don’t know. I’m laughing at the way the story is being told, by the newspaper and by the so-called left. But it’s not like this story is going to change my mind on Palin. I bet I know way more about Troopergate after reading that article than any orange-faced shit-flinger on DKos. I say the jury is out. I need more details, but I’m still voting for her in the meantime.