Sarah Palin's response to Friday's Troopergate report—which found that she had violated Alaska's Executive Branch Ethics Law in firing Public Safety Commisioner Walter Monegan—has been a brilliant one-two punch of putting on the happy face and throwing down the gauntlet. Step one is to chirpily deny the obvious: "I’m 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," she told reporters on Saturday. Step two is a public challenge: "If you read the report you'll see that there was nothing unlawful or unethical about replacing a cabinet member," she told reporters on the same day. "You gotta read the report."
The report is 263 pages long, and Sarah Palin neither wants nor expects anyone to read it. Unable to get the best of Alaskan investigators, she is trying to get the best of American reading habits. For all I know this might succeed. All I can say is that I ruined my weekend and took her challenge, and I did not arrive at page 263 with the impression that Palin should be pleased—much less "very, very pleased"—about the results of the report.
Sarah Palin fired her public safety commissioner in part because the commissioner refused to sack the ex-husband of Palin's sister, following a rocky and possibly violent divorce. That's the first and central finding of the report. Palin is lying outright when she claims the report found nothing "unethical." The report states very clearly and very early that she violated Alaska's Executive Branch Ethics Act, which says that a public officer's attempt to "benefit a personal or financial interest" is a violation of the public trust. The best you can say for her is that she's only spinning when she claims that the report found nothing "unlawful," since the state Constitution says that cabinet members can be fired for any reason at all—including, presumably, insufficient enthusiasm for hockey or aerial wolf hunting. (It’s not the most flattering line of the defense.)