By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Jeremiah Wright’s running mate?

Jake Tapper reports that Sarah and Todd Palin are former members of the Alaskan Independence Party, whose motto is “Alaska First — Alaska Always.” The controversy, Tapper says, is over how hard the party has pushed for independence from the United States. But it gets a whole lot better than that.

According to Lynette Clark, a top party official with whom Tapper spoke, the Palins were members in 1994, and attended the party’s statewide convention, in Wasilla, that year. Sarah Palin quit the party in 1996 in order to run for mayor of Wasilla; there is no indication of when she first joined.

Why are these dates important? Because party founder Joe Vogler, who was chairman right up until his death in 1993, was a “sulphurous” presence known for his “‘America be damned’ rhetoric delivered at D-9-cat decibels,” according to an Anchorage Daily News editorial published in 1998.

America be damned? Gee, who does that remind you of? And could the Palins have been ignorant of Vogler’s views in 1994?

To this day, the Alaskan Independence Party’s Web site proudly carries the following quote from Vogler: “I’m an Alaskan, not an American. I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.” And Tapper found that Palin had sent a video message to the party’s annual convention just last year.

I’m leery of relying on Wikipedia, but, given what we already know about Vogler, this seems safe: he was murdered, and, as he had previously made it clear that he wished not to be buried under the American flag, he was buried instead in the Yukon.

Country first, eh, Sen. McCain?

Let me jump ahead to the defense we can anticipate: the Alaskan Independence Party is part of the cultural milieu of Alaska, it doesn’t mean the same thing to Alaskans as it would to us, Palin is really a patriotic American, blah blah blah. And you know what? I have no trouble believing any of that.*

Just as I had no trouble believing that Barack and Michelle Obama are patriotic Americans despite their long membership in the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church.

*But you know what? On reflection, I wouldn’t be surprised if Palin thought Alaskan independence was kind of a neat idea. That would have been the whole point to joining the party, right?

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  1. liamstliam

    Dan: You are usually the voice of reason.The connection to the reverend was something that surprised me coming from you.How was the amusement park?

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Liam: Huh? You see no connection between “God damn America” and “America be damned”? Well, good luck with that.Canobie Lake was great, thank you.

  3. Joel Monka

    If you have no trouble believeing it, why bring the subject up? Simple vengeance? Angry at some talkshow host, so you take it out on Governor Palin?

  4. Gerard

    It is amazing just how little of nothing you are able to scrape up.At this rate, becoming even a smidgen of Romanesko will always elude you.

  5. Nial Liszt

    “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Independence Party?”

  6. Peter Porcupine

    DK – your logic would hold together better if the Obamas had joined the church after Wright had died…

  7. liamstliam

    The quotes yes.The people no.I just don’t see it, and I think it’s racist.I don’t think *you* are racist, but it’s a tenuous connection in my mind, and anything involving Rev. Wright is racist.But again, I think she was a terrible choice, and I think she will hurt him more than help him.I am sorry, Dan. I am all wound up over her. I do not know why. She scares the hell out of me.

  8. Doug Shugarts

    What I can’t understand is why McCain would create doubt about his judgment by choosing Palin for his VP. Why was he so careless in vetting a running mate who will replace him if his health takes another turn for the worse? And does the party really wish to embarrass itself by backing a VP whose ‘story’ is, most generously said, uncertain?I don’t think that even the God stuff will sell Palin to the GOP.Doug Shugarts

  9. Dan Kennedy

    PP: We don’t know when the Palins joined the Alaskan Independence Party. All we know is that they were members in 1994 — it might have been well before that.And, clearly, Vogler may have died, but his hatred for America lives on within the party.

  10. Nial Liszt

    I don’t see a direct quote “America be damned” anywhere in your sourcing and that is the entire hook here.The last monk that will will see run for P Or VP will have been The Duke.

  11. Aaron Read

    Oh my, how delicious. Something the left can legitimately attack Palin on just like the right attacked Obama.Here’s the $64,000 question: Where does religion fall into the overall schema of the Alaskan Independence Party? If it’s hardcore right-wing, pro-life, conservative Protestant, then this issue will have legs but weak ones.If it’s anything BUT that, then Palin could well be toast. I put her VP survival chances at 50-50. And if Palin goes, McCain is likely toast, too.I did five minutes of Googling and didn’t come up with much that spoke to this. I did find this link with an interview two weeks with Bob Bird, AIP’s candidate for the US Senate. It says, among other things…He’s a long-time pro-life activist who vehemently opposes a national abortion ban and a gun activist who condemns the Heller decision. He lists Grover Cleveland among his favorite presidents and Lincoln among the worst.This one’s tricky…in my experience, most right-wing religious righters are more about them telling you what you can and cannot do with your life, than they are about standing for a particular cause. So, for example, if Bird is emblematic of the AIP, even saying you’re “vehemently” pro-life isn’t enough if you’re not also in “vehemently” fighting for repealing Roe v. Wade.Man, is it just me or this RNC rapidly becoming the biggest Charlie-Fox of a convention for the Republicans in the last fifty years? Especially compared to the clockwork mechanism that was the DNC last week?

  12. Aaron Read

    Oh my, how delicious. Something the left can legitimately attack Palin on just like the right attacked Obama.Sorry, I should’ve put “legitimately” in quotes, there. I mean it’s total BS, but it’s still something that can and will be used against Palin, just like it was against Obama.

  13. Dan Kennedy

    Nial: The entire hook? Are you kidding? The quote is “I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.”The Anchorage Daily News has either quoted Vogler as saying “America be damned” or has used that construction to characterize his views — accurately, given the preceding quote. But I’m not sure which, and that’s why I didn’t put it in quotation marks.

  14. Nial Liszt

    Dan, you put it in quotes here, apparently trying to make a direct comparison:Liam: Huh? You see no connection between “God damn America” and “America be damned”? Well, good luck with that.

  15. Dan Kennedy

    Nial: That was a bit of sloppiness in the comments, not in my original post. But surely you don’t think that was the entire hook. Not compared to “I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.”

  16. O-FISH-L

    Do the media, already perceived as in the tank for Obama, really want to get Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s personal anti-American pastor until a few months ago, back into the mix with a comparison to some guy in Alaska who died in the early 90’s? Manna from heaven for Republicans. Dan, I’m still waiting for the Marie St. Fleur moment but so far its been all Clara Peller, as in “Where’s the beef?” If there are no bombshells and it remains all ankle-biting by what appears to be a vengeful media, Palin need only survive the one VP debate and her job will be done. Anything better than that [and her 80% AK approval rating tells me she’s likable] is a homerun. In no way, shape or form am I validating your Dan Quayle comparison, I only invoke his name because as bad as he was perceived to be, he still became VP. Why? Because nobody votes for VP, they vote for President. This will still come down to McCain and Obama.I also can’t help but think that there are some great TV or at least internet ads in the making here for McCain / Palin. Like (voice-over) “Joe Biden and some in the media don’t want Sarah Palin to make it to Washington, but why? Maybe it’s the same reason corrupt politicians in Alaska didn’t want her at the State House [roll newspaper headlines of corrupt Alaskan officials resigning, paying fines etc.] “Sarah Palin, not part of the old boy network.”ps – Dan, was Obama at Harvard Law when those crackpots in Roxbury and Dorchester tried to secede from Boston to form the City of “Mandela?” You’ve got to figure all of the survivors of that movement are supporting Obama, I’m just curious if he supported them at the time. Other than his Somerville parking tickets I’ve heard nothing about Obama’s time here.

  17. Rick

    Media Nation is becoming The Daily Kos lite.

  18. Gerard

    Nope. As I said above it is just Romanesko without the dedication, insight, sources, and balance. Too bad. It used to have some use and potential.Palin Derangement Syndrome, the new strain of BDS.

  19. Dot Lane

    Seceding from Boston is entirely different than seceding from the United States, o-f-l. Even a simple red herring fisherman such as yourself should know that. Furthermore, since Palin’s resume goes blank for a few years after losing a race for Lt. Gov. in 2002, your argument supporting Sarah Palin, crusader against corruption, would look a lot better if she hadn’t been a director of Ted Stevens’ PAC for those three years. Hard to be all mavericky when you’re carrying the water for a dirty pol. I’m sure you’ll find some way to spin this inconvenient bit of news into another reason Sarah Palin is a brilliant choice. I promise not to say rumpelstiltskin around you.

  20. Aaron Read

    Rick and Gerard, methinks you doth protest too much! Even Bill Kristol, that reliable right-wing shill, is on the record in the NY Times as saying: If Palin turns out not be up to the challenge for which McCain has selected her, McCain will pay a heavy price. His judgment about the most important choice he’s had to make this year will have been proved wanting. He won’t be able to plead that being right about the surge in Iraq should be judged as more important than being right about his vice-presidential pick.McCain has gambled boldly on Palin. If she flops, McCain could lose by a landslide.That was published on September 1st, which probably means it was written no later than August 31st; which means that even though he says he “spent an afternoon” with Palin and thinks she’s up to the VP job, he wrote this before all these, say we say, “interesting facts” about Palin started coming out.This is why Palin could be so make or break…if she goes down in flames and McCain is forced to dump her from the ticket, he is almost certainly toast come November. NOBODY, not even Republicans, will respect his judgment anymore. Especially not after he’s been beating the drum for months that he’s the more “experienced” candidate who “knows how to make hard decisions”. (quotes for paraphrasing, not attribution)

  21. mike_b1

    Hehehehehe. Old Man McCain, showing some pretty wise judgment here. I’m sure he’ll make a fine Senator. Someday.50:50 he withdraws the VP offer.

  22. Ryan

    O-FISH-L said…In no way, shape or form am I validating your Dan Quayle comparison, I only invoke his name because as bad as he was perceived to be, he still became VP. Why? Because nobody votes for VP, they vote for President. This will still come down to McCain and Obama.See here’s the thing, when your candidate is 72 years old, and he’ll reach the life expectancy of the average American while in office, the VP choice is much more relevant and at the forefront of voters minds.

  23. Jasonk

    Strange that only ABC news seems to be following up on this.

  24. Jim

    Palin's youthful indiscretion with the AIP in her 30's carries on to today. Here is a video of her sending a goodwill message to the AIP in 2008. guess her idea of foreign policy is joining OPEC.

  25. Rick

    I just read that she has been a registered Republican since 1982. She also said that she didn’t attend the AIP convention in 1994,but visited the convention in 2000as a courtesy since she was mayor of Wasilla. here is here voter registration information

  26. Dan Kennedy

    Rick:1. I don’t see that document as saying she’s been registered as a Republican since 1982. To me, it says she’s been registered as a voter since ’82, and is a Republican. If I pulled my own voter information, I don’t think it would show my enrollment switches.2. She says she didn’t attend in 1994? Link?

  27. Nuffsaid

    Alaska is the biggest welfare state in the Union. Without the pork money they recieve from Washington they would go bankrupt in a month. Palin is the biggest Welfare Mother. She also recieved more than ten percent of her money for her election for governer from the same oil company that got Ted Stevens indited. So much for fighting corruption. She is a Republican, what do you expect.

  28. Rick

    It’s on Jake Tappers blog.It’s also on

  29. Rick

    I’m not familiar with Alsakan voter registration documents but my understanding is that any party changes would be noted.

  30. Dan Kennedy

    OK, Jake Tapper has followed up with information that Palin denies having attended the 1994 Alaskan Independence Party convention. But another witness, Mark Chryson, has stepped forward to say that he saw her there. And yes, Palin is denying that she was ever a member, too.Interesting that some of the commenters here think this is no big deal. Obviously the McCain campaign thinks it’s a very big deal.Lynette Clark, who says Palin was both there in ’94 and a member, says, “This is like a cat covering up crap in its litter box.” Nice!It may prove difficult to show whether Palin was a member, as the party’s records apparently don’t go back that far. But rather than looking at her current voter-registration record, as the McCain camp wants us to do, I’d rather see what’s in those old file cabinets.

  31. Rick

    Well it would be nice if Tapper found out what is in those old file cabinets first.

  32. Dan Kennedy

    Rick: Agreed.

  33. Rick

    All of this just proves to me that the MSM is in the tank for Sen. Obama.They could prove me wrong when they start digging into Sen.Bidenbut I won’t hold my breath.

  34. Neil

    Re: “…the MSM is in the tank for [the candidate you don’t like]“……as if the MSM is a monolithic entity.Soon we’ll have to cultivate clones in underground hideaways (cf: The Island) to keep them free from the taint of assocation with other distasteful humans and therefore be suitable political candidates. Of course, then they’d lack “experience”. Perhaps experience can be injected in a manner similar to the technique used in The Matrix, in which Keanu Reeves gets to say, “I know Kung Fu!”.Life isn’t enough like the movies. Other solutions to the problem of requiring both a.) experience and b.) purity are welcome.

  35. Dan Kennedy

    Rick: Ideally, Tapper would have done all of his checking ahead of time, but his failure to do so is not evidence of bias.Today Lynette Clark sounds pissed. But when she first talked with Tapper, it was clearly no big deal to her — she was being friendly and helpful.Three witnesses (so far) say they saw Palin at the ’94 convention; Palin says she wasn’t.Palin also says she was never a member of the party. Do we see a trend developing here?

  36. Rick

    Yes I see a trend.The tend is that the media is digging and digging hard on one candidate.

  37. mike_b1

    rick, we agree with that. The media beat the crap out of the Rev Wright non-story. And it’s largely ignored McCain’s lifelong poor judgment, from his off-the-charts bad performance in school, to his Keating Five days, to his near-total alienation of his colleagues, to his recent choice for VP candidate.Why does the GOP consider academic success a sign of weakness, anyway?

  38. Steve

    Rick: “They could prove me wrong when they start digging into Sen. Biden but I won’t hold my breath.“You don’t think the reason for the relative scrutiny between Biden and Palin is that Biden has been running for President off-and-on for 20 years, but Palin has been running for VP for 20 minutes?BTW, the *real* parallel to Rev. Wright would be Pastor Kalnins of the Wasilla Assembly of God, who questioned whether people who voted for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 would be accepted to heaven; charged that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and war in Iraq were part of a war “contending for your faith;” and said that Jesus “operated from that position of war mode.”.

  39. Dot Lane

    Rick: is Rush Limbaugh part of the mainstream media? is Fox News part of the mainstream media? Is the Wall Street Journal editorial page part of the mainstream media? Bill Kristol? Jonah Goldberg? Charles Krauthammer? Ann Coulter? Michelle Malkin? Or has every poll, survey, and study in the last ten years proven that they’re not part of the mainstream media because, you know, the mainstream media is all overwhelmingly liberal? Your blanket assertions may cut it in wingnut town, but it is hard to take seriously a form of argument that five year olds use. Five year old: “You never let me do anything fun!” Responsible adult: “What about the time I took you to the beach and bought you ice cream and you said it was the most fun you ever had?” Five year old: “You never let me do anything fun!”And digging hard? You mean the media should just uncritically accept the McCain campaign’s assertion that Palin has important executive and military command experience? The vast majority of Americans knew nothing about her, nor did the GOP talking heads in the media, so of course there is going to be some research done. In this case the information they’re finding out about Palin takes a couple of hours and internet access. Since John McCain doesn’t use the internet, he wasn’t able to do this research himself.One would think your conservative buddies who draw vast audiences for their nationwide shows that aren’t part of the mainstream media would have come up with something about Biden by now, don’t you?

  40. Amused

    Wow. ofishal has outdone himself by comparing a call to break up the Union by having a sovereign state secede with efforts to use the process of law to create a new municipality out of an existing municipality (something that has been done hundreds of times throughout Massachusetts history.) Municipalities are creatures of the state, which can institute them, abolish them or combine them at will — just ask anyone who called Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, or Prescott home.States are part of the United States; and were offered and accepted acmission to the Union; there is no constitutional or legal procedure for secession. When the right wing nutbags play GOTCHA! with a Democrat, their findings are to be venerated; when the silliness of Republicans is exposed, it’s some sort of media conspiracy. Your hoped-for commercial, of course, will never see the light of the tube, since it would bring the rebuttal that this champion of ethics is under investigation for the unethical attempt to cashier a state trooper. Maybe we can get into a :60 sec spot questions about how she managed to stick her town of 9,000 with enormous debt to build a sports complex on land conveniently sold off to a developer before the city suddenly needed it, raising the cost of the land ten-fold.

  41. Howard

    OBAMA = BETRAYALObama supporters are foolish to think that he will never betray them.Obama was a close friend of Pastor Wright for TWENTY YEARS.Obama threw Wright under the bus for personal ambition.McCain would not betray his country even after 5 years of torture.You can put lipstick on a traitor, but he’s still a traitor.

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