To many, Sarah Palin’s sister’s divorce is a private family matter, best left there. To others, it is a potential window into Sarah Palin’s character and a launching pad for a broader discussion on family policy. Reports of allegations, maybe false, maybe not, set-up a traditional he-said, she-said allowing anyone to take a side. Another more politically loaded question has been raised. Did Sarah Palin abuse her position as Governor to get involved in the dispute?
Newsweek added fuel to the fire this week with an article claiming court records reveal that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œA judge repeatedly told Palin and family not to badmouth her sister’s ex.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â According to Newsweek, ‘An Anchorage judge three years ago warned Sarah Palin and members of her family to stop “disparaging” the reputation of Alaska State Trooper Michael Wooten, who at the time was undergoing a bitter separation and divorce from Palin’s sister Molly.’
The juicy Newsweek soap opera can leave one with the image of a judge shaking his finger directly at Sarah Palin and other family members, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œrepeatedlyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â admonishing them for bad behavior. But the quotes given are general comments regarding ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œdisparagementÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â of parents by family members. The context ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ in sharp contrast to unflattering images of an uncivilized ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œfamily feudÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ was preservation of the Wooten couple’s joint custody arrangement; another testament to the family’s ability to work through difficult situations, achieving strong and positive results.
In the world of he-said, she-said side-taking in family issues, something positive must be seen in both Michael and Molly Wooten. They must have done something right, as parents. And while we’re at it, let’s applaud the judge for preserving parental relationships instead of legally destroying them.
The judge’s comments were not set off by Sarah Palin’s or family members’ involvement in the divorce and custody proceedings, nor were there necessarily any false allegations involved. The judge reacted to testimony from an Alaska State Troopers’ union representative who said family members had lodged complaints in the past (and before Sarah Palin first held public office) about Trooper Wooten’s behavior. The representative took the position that the complaints were not job related.
In relation to early coverage of the abuse of power allegation, Internet discussion boards immediately became clogged with questions about the circumstances under which Trooper Wooten was fired. He wasn’t, and newer reports began revealing a more indirect and complex set of speculations built on the dismissal of a commissioner who had the power to fire Wooten. Were Governor Palin’s aides pressuring the commissioner to fire Wooten?
MensNewsDaily.com has obtained audio demonstrating that aides had the objective of keeping the Governor out of the dispute and that Sarah Palin and husband Todd instructed them to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œStay away, there’s nothing we can do.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Meanwhile, there is evidence that the people interested in keeping Troopergate alive are Sarah Palin’s political enemies, from those who made initial allegations to those carrying out the investigation in Alaska. (Republican response.) Election campaigns have been known to include some dirty tricks. But Troopergate is being conducted using public funds. In the end, this is where the appearance of, if not illegal, then patently unethical conduct may come to rest.