September 18th, 2008 17:30 EST
Alaska's "First Dude" Front and Center
Much is being said about the family of potential Vice President Sarah Palin. From criticizing her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, for conceiving out of wedlock to honoring her 19-year-old son, Track, for enlisting in the U.S. Army and deploying to Iraq on September 11 of this year, it seems that the media is paying just as much attention to Palin`s family as they do to her.
Why is this? Is it because typical social gender roles tie women closer to their families than men? Hillary Clinton`s family did not receive this kind of attention, most likely because America was already rather familiar with the three-piece Clinton clan.
One member of the Palin clan who has received little exposure in the media is her husband, Todd Palin. That is, until very recently. On Tuesday, Fox News aired Greta Van Susteren`s interview with the self-described "First Dude" of Alaska on the topics of working the oil fields of the North Slope, snowmachine racing, and the early romance between he and his wife.
"I knew that she was destined for higher positions,"he told Susteren, and followed with "maybe not as soon but that`s just the way she is." Unfortunately, Susteren did not press Palin on what he meant by "maybe not as soon," and ended the questions on his wife`s candidacy there.
Palin is a soft-spoken man, appearing laid-back with an easy-going attitude. He`s the kind of guy who would have no masculine issues that his wife very well might be the next Vice President. In fact, Palin is the kind of guy who likes to step away from the spotlight almost altogether. When he competes in the Iron Dog, the 2,000 mile snowmachine race in which he has won on four separate occasions, he usually allows his partner, Scott Davis, to cross the finish line first.
Some, however, claim that the "First Dude" has more of a hand in his wife`s public position than he leads on. On his website, www.andrewhalcro.com, Anchorage journalist Andrew Halcro describes a story in which Alaska Representative Ralph Samuels entered a meeting with Governor Palin which was supposed to be private, only to discover that the "First Dude" was there also and proceeded to sit through the entire meeting. Other lawmakers have told similar stories of Mr. Palin`s inappropriate interactions as the husband of the Governor.
Other than the alleged hand he has in his wife`s position, Palin has worked the oil fields of Alaska`s North Slope for mega oil company, British Petroleum (BP) for 18 years. He is also a commercial salmon fisherman and a member of the United Steelworkers Union.
As November 4 creeps closer and closer, America will most definitely see and hear more and more from the "First Dude" of Alaska.