Consider a hypothetical: Imagine that the governor of a state, who has oversight responsibility for the state police, learns that an officer has allegedly issued death threats against his former in-laws, used a Taser weapon on a child, drank alcohol in his department vehicle, and possibly other violations of law and department policy. Would a reasonable observer (i.e. not a partisan trying to score political points) think it was inappropriate for the governor to inquire as to why this corrupt officer was still on the state payroll? Would it be unreasonable for that governor to inquire to the agency head why he hadn’t done anything about the matter? Would it be inappropriate for the governor to demand the offending trooper be dismissed?
If it would be reasonable for a governor to make such inquiries in the abstract, then why would it suddenly be unreasonable if the governor had some relationship to the offending officer.
Further, imagine if a (Republican) governor had a corrupt state employee who happened to be a relative, and upon learning of the problem did not take any action. The Democrats would be hammering our hypothetical governor for going easy on her scofflaw relative. The howls of righteous outrage would be at least as loud as those now directed at the Governor of Alaska. They’d probably bring the poor young Taser victim before the press or even a congressional committee to tearfully tell his story – “This poor boy was treated just like one of the innocent victims of the Bush Regime’s policy of torture at Guantanamo Bay!!! And the governor did NOTHING to protect this dear child!”
There may be additional facts that come out in Alaska that put Governor Palin’s alleged actions in a worse light, but so far that has not been the case. The press is reporting the allegations inaccurately (surprise, surprise!) every time they simply refer to the trooper as “the governor’s former brother-in-law” and leave out his alleged wrongdoing, implying that her actions were merely personal. A good governor ought to be concerned about a bad cop remaining on the state force. Doing the right thing doesn’t become the wrong thing just because the crook is your former brother-in-law.
UPDATE: Here is a helpful timeline of the events of Crooked-Brother-in-Law-Gate.