First dude

The Washington Posts leads its front page with a story on Sarah Palin's hubby.

Published September 22, 2008 1:18PM (EDT)

The Washington Post has a front-page profile of Todd Palin today. He is, as we all know, the "first dude" of American politics. It's so refreshing to have "real" people involved in politics, who do "real" things with other "real" Americans. (If you're reading this, of course, chances are you are not a real American because you read Salon and do other "unreal" things like drink fancy coffee, eat hummus and listen to public radio.)

But it seems Todd Palin is more than the snowmobile-racing little hubby trailing after the kiddies, cleaning the hockey uniforms and shopping for mom's new lipstick as Sarah goes off to do grown-up work in Juneau:

Todd Palin took an interest in vocational education and job creation, and he went with Labor Commissioner Click Bishop to tour the Red Dog and Donlin Creek mines, courtesy of the mine owners. Hard-rock mining is a booming industry in Alaska, but it is controversial because of concerns that tailings from the mining could pollute local waters.

Although Stapleton said she is not aware of Todd Palin's informal lobbying on state fisheries issues, lawmakers say he has talked with them about the contentious issue of how to apportion dwindling salmon stocks. His family fishing operation, which last year earned him $47,000 through salmon sales to Peter Pan, a large fish operation, gave him a special perspective. Gov. Palin also appointed one of her husband's fellow Bristol Bay setnetters to the state Fisheries Board.

Todd Palin also has taken interest in issues that affect friends in the Mat-Su Valley, where the Palins live, notably the fight to save the state's half-dozen dairy farms. The overseers of the state-owned dairy that bought milk from valley farmers announced in June 2007 that they would shut it down because it was losing money ...

The extent of Todd Palin's involvement in issues is partly obscured by the refusal of the governor's office to release documents detailing internal communications with him. In a recent response to a citizen's public records request, the office refused to turn over 1,100 e-mails but released a log showing that 44 of those held back were sent to "T. Palin." The log showed him copied on e-mails regarding, among other issues, the union that represents state troopers and a parental-consent abortion bill ...

Todd Palin's communications with Walter Monegan, a former public safety commissioner, have entangled him in a legislative investigation into whether he and his wife, along with several top officials, pressured unsuccessfully for the firing of state trooper Mike Wooten. The first couple had accused Wooten, who was in a child-custody battle with Sarah Palin's sister, of threatening behavior. Monegan did not fire Wooten, and the governor removed Monegan from office in July.

Sounds like a lot of parochial, self-interested politics covered with a thick layer of nondisclosure and secrecy -- just the sort of thing John McCain hates about politics!

By Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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