The Campaign Spot

Empathizing, But Not Condoning, The Palins

Over on the homepage, I have a piece on the “TrooperGate” report about Sarah Palin. My liberal readers will probably take a moment to salute my willingness to criticize my preferred candidates when they err, then return to their regularly scheduled ritual denunciation of me as a hack. My conservative readers are probably going to grind their teeth some. But after reading the 268-page report, I come to two conclusions:

1) Palin’s ex-brother-in-law, Mike Wooten,  probably should not be a cop, because just the proven allegations of Tasering his 11-year-old stepson, making death threat against his father-in-law, drinking in his patrol car and violating a hunting law are supremely troubling, and the State Police’s conclusion that he only deserved suspension for two weeks suggests that his superiors were not taking the misbehavior seriously.

2) As outrageous as Wooten’s behavior and the State Police’s disinterest was, the Palins crossed a line by going to Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan repeatedly about the matter, and more importantly, by either urging or permitting various other state officials to contact Monegan as well. She is their (and his) boss; she had to know how it would appear. The actions of Todd and Sarah Palin are extremely understandable, but they still cross an ethical line by putting state employees in a tough situation: tell their boss, or their boss’ spouse, what they don’t want to hear and risk dismissal.

The special counsel’s report to the legislature makes clear that Palin was entirely within her rights to dismiss Monegon, and if she, Todd, and other state officials had not repeatedly inquired about reopening the investigation of Wooten, this probably would not have been a controversy.

Having said that, the history of the state trooper in question does make him sound, in Palin’s words, “a time bomb.” If this pattern of behavior continues, and results in injury or worse to some Alaskan, the Palins’ persistence may very well appear to be a prescient warning.

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