I have been a bit exhausted by most of this post-post-postmortem of the McCain campaign, relitigating old divisions that only really matter now on the off-off-off chance that Sarah Palin is the Republican standard bearer in three years. But I do find these old emails, published by CBS News, rather riveting. The whole thing starts when Palin, fresh on the campaign trail, gets upset about the discussion over her husband Todd’s past membership of a political party that advocates Alaskan secession. She writes an email to top staff:
“Pls get in front of that ridiculous issue that’s cropped up all day today – two reporters, a protestor’s sign, and many shout-outs all claiming Todd’s involvement in an anti-American political party,” Palin wrote. “It’s bull, and I don’t want to have to keep reacting to it … Pls have statement given on this so it’s put to bed.”
Schmidt writes back within five minutes.
“Ignore it,” he wrote. “He was a member of the aip? My understanding is yes. That is part of their platform. Do not engage the protestors. If a reporter asks say it is ridiculous. Todd loves america.”
Palin won’t take no for an answer, responding.
“That’s not part of their platform and he was only a ‘member’ bc independent alaskans too often check that ‘Alaska Independent’ box on voter registrations thinking it just means non partisan,” Palin wrote. “He caught his error when changing our address and checked the right box. I still want it fixed.”
Finally Schmidt lays down the law.
“Secession,” he wrote. “It is their entire reason for existence. A cursory examination of the website shows that the party exists for the purpose of seceding from the union. That is the stated goal on the front page of the web site. Our records indicate that todd was a member for seven years. If this is incorrect then we need to understand the discrepancy. The statement you are suggesting be released would be innaccurate. The innaccuracy would bring greater media attention to this matter and be a distraction. According to your staff there have been no media inquiries into this and you received no questions about it during your interviews. If you are asked about it you should smile and say many alaskans who love their country join the party because it speeks to a tradition of political independence. Todd loves his country We will not put out a statement and inflame this and create a situation where john has to adress this.”
Read the entire CBS, with far more context, report here.