At Salon, Mike Madden's reporting on Todd Palin's role within his wife's Alaska administration is a must-read.
In the Palin administration, Todd appears to have had an unusually strong role, the extent of which remains unclear. He is not on the state payroll and was never elected — but the First Dude has crossed over from the standard-issue supportive political spouse to something far more influential, weighing in on policy and political matters in ways that few observers seem to understand. His apparent influence in his wife's administration — some in Alaska have referred to him as the "shadow governor" — has raised questions about whether a Sarah Palin vice-presidency would hand the same type of backstage power to Todd, and what that might mean in the running of the U.S. government.
No one has accused Todd Palin of interfering in state business for his own personal benefit — instead, the situation has remained somewhat inscrutable, if not odd. According to local politicos and observers, he lurks around the capitol if he doesn't have anything better to do, which, since he works seasonal jobs in oil and fishing, is fairly often.
Madden calls Palin's role "odd." I'd characterize is as similar to that of many political wives down through the ages — except that when women are influential in their husband's work, whether they are Mary Todd Lincoln or Hillary Rodham Clinton, they are usually called meddling ball-busters. Sarah and Todd's relationship certainly seems to be one of the most attractive things about them. Here's a guy with a seasonal job who spends vast parts of the year as the primary caregiver to his five children. He actively supports his wife's career! He intimidates public safety commissioners on her behalf!
Of course, Sarah and Todd's modus operandi of vengeance and ignorance of policy and management details certainly seems terrifyingly unprofessional. But they're doing it together. Nothing too strange or unprecedented about that.
cross-posted at TAPPED