A Bush-Style Whitewash
Palin can’t admit the truth about Troopergate report
For anyone who followed the story of how and why Sarah Palin fired her stateâs public safety commissioner, last weekâs release of a legislative investigation which found that she had violated state ethics statutes was anticlimactic. After all, everyone knows that she and her husband, Todd, tried to push Walt Monegan, then Alaskaâs public safety commissioner, to fire a state trooper named Mike Wooten, who was involved in a bitter divorce from Ms. Palinâs sisterâand that after Mr. Monegan refused, he lost his job.
But while the state probeâs conclusions were unsurprising, there is still something to be learned from its findings and the McCain-Palin campaignâs response. From beginning to end, this episode demonstrates a disregard for the rule of law and a contemptuous attitude toward truth that are all too familiar by now.
Here, too, the election of the Republican ticket will mean more
of what we have already experienced for the past eight years.
is a pattern that can be traced back through the years of the Bush
administration whenever a whiff of scandal arises: Promise a thorough
investigation and full cooperation with the lawful authorities. Then
stonewall and withhold evidence and testimony so that the investigation
can never quite be completed. Insist that the partial investigation is
actually a full and complete exoneration, even if official reports and
prosecutors clearly indicate otherwise. Create a ârealityâ
that will be mirrored and echoed by friendly media and the partisan
base, while denigrating any effort to discuss actual facts as a
conspiracy by the âliberalâ media.
Whitewash, rinse and repeat.
Palin Was Not Cleared of Wrongdoing
The same seedy pattern can be traced in the White House response to the Valerie Plame scandal and more recently in the probe of the firing of U.S. attorneys, both of which implicated the former deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove. And it can be seen just as clearly in the way that Palin and her campaign handlers have dealt with the problems of âTroopergateââwhich culminated in her strange statement over the weekend claiming that the scorching report on her firing of Monegan had âclearedâ her.
âIâm very, very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing, any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that,â she told reporters. âIf you read the report, youâll see that there was nothing unlawful or unethical about replacing a cabinet member.â Or as McCain campaign manager and lobbyist Rick Davis assured the credulous audience of Fox News Channel: âThe reality is there was absolutely no wrongdoing found in the report âŠ [and] no violations of any kinds of laws or ethics rules.â
Reading the 263-page report, however, it is obvious that Palin was no more cleared of unethical activity than she blocked the âbridge to nowhere.â In fact, precisely the reverse is true. The legislative report, filed by one of Alaskaâs most respected and nonpartisan prosecutors, states with absolute clarity that, as governor, Palin violated the Executive Branch Ethics Act, which prohibits any official from seeking to âbenefit a personal interest.â She, her husband and her aides tried on nearly 20 separate occasions to induce Mr. Monegan to fire her former brother-in-law. The wording of the reportâs conclusion could not be plainerâ namely that âimpermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda, to wit: to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired.â
But she didnât violate state lawâas far as the investigation could determineâbecause that law permitted her to fire Mr. Monegan for any reason whatsoever. The ethics violations occurred before the firing.
The other bad habit that Palin seems to share with Rove and the Republicans currently in power is her allergy to disclosure, even when required by law. The 263-page report notes acidly that the Palin probe suffered from stonewalling by members of her administration, with at least 10 top officials refusing to testify or ignoring subpoenas, presumably on the advice of the New York lawyer hired by the McCain campaign. Some of those same individuals later âagreedâ to provide responses to written questionsânot the same as sworn testimonyâlong after their answers would have been useful to the investigators. Moreover, the Palin administration refused to provide e-mails and other documentation that the investigators required. Executive privilege, they cried, parroting the perennial Bush line.
John McCain enhanced his reputation over the past eight years by his occasional demurrals from the worst abuses of the Bush administration, including torture. Aware of the presidentâs bottoming poll numbers, he said the other day that âwe cannot spend the next four years as we have spent much of the last eight.â But that is precisely what we will do if he and his unethical pit bull enter the White House.© 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc. Whatâs your take? Write: email@example.com or comment on this story online at www.expressmilwaukee.com.