Sunday, September 14, 2008

Todd Palin's active role in Sarah Palin's governorship in Alaska

The New York Times has this interesting story about Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin's husband Todd, and his role in the Alaskan government:

ANCHORAGE — In voting to issue a subpoena to Todd Palin in an investigation of the firing of the Alaska public safety commissioner, state lawmakers on Friday signaled that Mr. Palin, the husband of Gov. Sarah Palin, might have played a central role in one of the most contentious episodes of her governorship.

While that suggestion goes beyond the image presented of Mr. Palin during the Republican convention as a blue-collar family man and sportsman, it echoes a widely held understanding among lawmakers, state employees and lobbyists about Mr. Palin’s heavy engagement in state government.

In the small circle of advisers close to the governor, these people say, Mr. Palin is among the closest, and he plays an unpaid but central role in many aspects of the administration of Ms. Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president.

Mr. Palin’s involvement in the governor’s office has prompted an irreverent quip by some capital staff members when decisions are to be made that might affect the governor: “What would Todd do?”

Mr. Palin has encouraged lawmakers to support his wife’s agenda, helped her review budget items and polish speeches, surprised some lawmakers by sitting in on meetings and received copies of top administration staff e-mail messages.

Mr. Palin also has stepped into personnel issues that have personal relevance, most notably his contact with Walt Monegan, then the public safety commissioner, to express concern about the continued employment of a state trooper who had gone through a bitter divorce and custody battle with the governor’s sister. Mr. Monegan was later fired, and it is that firing that prompted the vote Friday on the subpoena.

Mr. Palin was not made available for comment, but he has denied doing anything improper in the firing of Mr. Monegan.

It is not necessarily clear whether Mr. Palin is helping shape his wife’s agenda or simply advocating for it, nor whether he ever put pressure on lawmakers, but his role has not been the customary one of a governor’s spouse in Alaska.

That has made many people in government uncomfortable and often confused over how to react.

“My colleagues told me he was lobbying for the governor’s position on oil taxes,” State Representative Jay Ramras, a Republican who is chairman of the House judiciary committee, said of one instance last year when he saw Mr. Palin outside the legislative chamber before a key vote. “I think that when the spouse of an elected governor steps away from safe issues that are nonpartisan in nature, that it is bad for the legislative and executive branches, and Todd Palin would not be an exception to that.”

When Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, there was enough flack going around about his wife Hillary becoming a co-president. And yes, Hillary Clinton was probably the most powerful adviser in Bill Clinton's presidency. But Hillary Clinton received a bachelors in political science from Wellesley College, and a law degree from Yale. So even if she did advise Bill on the day-to-day issues and political topics during his presidency, she was certainly well educated and smart enough to understand the complex issues during the Clinton administration. Now look at Todd Palin. Todd Palin's education is that he attended Wasilla High School, where the high point is that he met his sweetheart Sarah Palin. I'm not even sure if Todd Palin graduated from Wasilla High School (I will assume that he did). Todd Palin does not have any college degree. And yet he is going to be the closest adviser to a potential Sarah Palin vice presidency, and an even more potential Sarah Palin presidency. And looking at how Todd Palin has taken an active role in Gov. Sarah Palin's administration, do you really want Todd Palin to continue such an active role in a President Sarah Palin's administration?

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