Center for American Progress Action

WONK ROOM: The First Dude, Snowmobilin’ Mainers, And The Divisive Politics Of Karl Rove
Press Release

WONK ROOM: The First Dude, Snowmobilin’ Mainers, And The Divisive Politics Of Karl Rove

Todd Darling is the director of the documentary “A Snow Mobile for George,” a tour of deregulation in America

The First Dude, Snowmobilin’ Mainers, And The Divisive Politics Of Karl Rove

As Politico’s Jonathan Martin tells us, “Iron Dog champ Todd Palin makes his direct mail debut in a piece aimed straight at the gut of a rural Mainers.” The letter warns snowmobiling Mainers, “Obama’s Extreme Environmental Policies” could make this “The Last Winter To Ride In Our National Parks?” The Maine Republican Party flier includes this edited quote from a Sierra Club blogger Pat Joseph:

In the end, the point that snowmobiles are loud and obnoxious and polluting seems obvious to everyone save perhaps the person actually astraddle the beast. . . . They just don’t have any business in our national parks.

Todd Palin’s flier dives straight into a barrel of red herrings.

In this flier, Palin is attempting to stoke a culture war between freedom-loving snowmobilers and tree-hugging environmentalists. But snowmobilers care about pollution and preserving the outdoors. And environmentalists love having fun. See how the flier edits the Sierra Club quote? Here’s what that dot-dot-dot eliminated from Pat Joseph’s criticism of snowmobiles in national parks:

They are also fun. No doubt about it, they’re an absolute blast.

Mr. Palin says his wife and Senator McCain will protect snowmobile access with “practical standards.” But they don’t believe in regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, even though global warming has meant the Iron Dog competitors have raced in the rain—and in 2003, the race was even totally cancelled because of the extreme heat. It’s sure hard to protect the fun of snowmobiling if your “standards” mean the end to snow.

The practical matter at hand is that Palin is shilling for the manufacturers. The last thing the manufacturers want is for snowmobilers to sit down with the Sierra Club and hash it out. Why? Because fear serves as their unifying theme—in 2000 and 2004 the snowmobile industry gave Karl Rove and the Bush White House their product warranty list with the addresses of their customers. The industry then received lopsided regulations that favored keeping alive the more polluting two-stroke engines, and the totemic access to national parks. It is the essence of deregulation—practical has nothing to do with it.

Palin is attacking an environmentalist as an extremist, trying to put neighbors and outdoors-loving families on different sides of the culture divide. It’s time to put an end to the politics of division. As Pat Joseph wrote in response to a snowmobiler in that same blog post, "If I came off as ‘you’re either with us or against us,’ then my bad. To the contrary, we’re all in this together."