Update: I changed my headline from “New Palin Emails Suggest She Tried to Get McCain Campaign to Lie” to “New Palin Emails Show She Tried to Get McCain Campaign to Lie” because so many people challenged the original headline. The emails do more than suggest she was trying to get the campaign to lie. She clearly was. My mistake.
So the facts are: Gov. Palin was not a member of this third-party (“Alaska First — Alaska Always”) that wants Alaskans to get a vote on whether or not the state can secede from the U.S. But her husband was a long-time member, and at least two AIP officials recall her attending the 1994 convention, though she says she did not attend.
A new set of Sarah Palin emails has been leaked that could do serious damage to her long-term political prospects. CBS News has obtained a string of communications, between Palin and McCain chief strategist Steve Schmidt, that suggests that the Alaska Governor tried to quash the story of her husband’s involvement with the secessionist Alaska Independence Party with an incredible assertion:
“(Secession)’s not part of their platform and (Todd) 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.”
Schmidt’s reply was unequivocal:
“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.
Palin has weathered political firestorms greater than this, but the suggestion that she tried to lie so nakedly is damaging in a way that wardrobe malfunctions and fumbled interviews are not. The artlessness of the excuse, too, fits the narrative of Palin as less-than-brilliant.
The real story here, however, is the question of who leaked these emails, and why now? The timing coincides closely with another Palin email story and with a scathing Vanity Fair article about her. It sure seems like a campaign is underway to finish Palin’s political career off, once and for all.
The list of suspects is long, especially since Palin copied so many people on her responses to Schmidt, but the specific identity of the leaker isn’t that important. This is just the latest volley in what I see as an ongoing effort by the GOP to wrest influence from Sarah Palin. The catalyst here may have been all of the attention Palin received, much of it sympathetic, during her recent feud with David Letterman.