Good Day World!
Every year there’s a bumper-crop of weird political stories. 2014 was no exception.
Trying to decide the weirdest was no easy task with all the competition the characters offer.
I’ve selected the following two stories for your consideration, but I can’t decide which one should be rated #1 for the year.
I leave that up to you gentle readers. What do you think?
The Palin Family Got Swept up in an Epic Brawl
It started out as nothing more than a well-attended birthday party for a competitive snowmobiler on a cool Saturday night last September in Anchorage.
But by the end, it was a scene straight out of “Roadhouse,” a drunken, bare-knuckled brawl involving 20 people backed by the soundtrack of a live band that, according to witnesses, never missed a beat amid the surrounding melee.
Police were called, but no charges were filed. And the fight likely would have gone unnoticed had it not been for the people involved: Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate turned reality TV star, and members of her family.
Suddenly, the political world salivated over every detail of the fracas, from the gleaming white stretch Hummer that delivered the Palin clan to the festivities to the red, white and blue high-tops the woman who was almost elected to the nation’s second-highest office wore as she stood screaming on the sidelines of the fight.
Everybody had a different account of what happened. Palin’s oldest son, Track, told police he got into a fight with men who were insulting one of his sisters. His father, Todd, who also happened to be celebrating his 50th birthday that night, jumped in, ending up with a bloody nose.
But other partygoers blamed the Palins — including the former governor’s 24-year-old daughter, Bristol, who allegedly punched a man six or seven times in the face before she was shoved to the ground — for starting the brawl.
Bristol, who was visibly drunk, according to the cops, denied the claim and said she was attacked while trying to defend her younger sister, Willow, from rude guests.
After weeks of silence, Sarah Palin finally addressed the scandal in a Facebook post, calling the experience “humiliating and frightening.” “My kids aren’t proud of what happened,” she wrote. But she also slammed the media, accusing them of mocking her daughter after she had “been assaulted by a man.” — Holly Bailey
Chickens Became a Major Issue in a U.S. Senate Race
Leave it to Iowa, a major agricultural state, to turn a dispute over chickens in a lakeside residential community into a full-fledged campaign issue garnering national attention and affecting the course of a U.S. Senate race.
Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley never quite knew how to recover from the controversy Republican operatives helped create over Braley’s dispute with his Holiday Lake neighbor over four therapy chickens she kept on her property near Braley’s vacation home.
The Braleys had said they could smell neighbor Pauline Hampton’s free-range chickens, which she used for “animal-assisted therapy” with children, and that birds violated the local homeowners' association guidelines about the keeping of non-pet animals.
Hampton eventually penned her hens, but word of the dispute — and a Braley phone call to the homeowners’ association raising the specter of legal action — leaked.
Republicans used the anecdote to help paint Braley as out of touch with the culture and values of the farm state and unsympathetic to the concerns of average Iowans.
Nor were the chickens the only famous animals in the race. Braley’s opponent, Republican Joni Ernst, launched her campaign with an advertisement touting her farm state bona fides by announcing, "I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm."
It worked for her: She’s going to be sworn in as the state’s first female congressperson in January. — Garance Franke-Ruta
Time for me to walk on down the road…