Well, it looks like the inner sanctum just got a little less populated.
There aren't many of the old gang from Alaska left. Politico reports this morning that Sarah Palin's most visible henchperson Meghan Stapleton has inflated a life boat and leapt over the side of the S.S. Palin "to spend more time with her family."
It's here that we should invite our sad violinist to come and play some background music while we in Alaska remember Meg "Stapletongue" with all the reverence and heartfelt whatever that she so richly deserves. Get your hankies ready Lower 48ers. It's a sad tale.
Meg Stapleton... She came to Alaska from the east coast to seek her fortune. A Georgetown grad who had worked in DC with the likes of famous former Nixonian jew counter and current GOP fundraiser Fred Malek, she sought her destiny in the Last Frontier.
Meg quickly became one of Alaska's most trusted and beloved anchorwoman on the local NBC affiliate, KTUU Channel 2 News. She did manage to literally get "run over by a reindeer" while wearing a Santa suit on live TV one year at Christmas, but other than that, her life was filled with all the good things you might expect from being a local beloved talking head in one of the country's smallest but most interesting media markets.
The team led by O'Callaghan took over the Alaska Department of Law like parasites in suits, doling out legal advice despite their lack of legal authority to practice law in Alaska, and provoking the ire of the state and its residents. And always, Stapleton was out front leading the parade, waving the Palin flag, and being the "familiar and trusted face" that was supposed to convince us that the brown stuff smeared on top of the campaign cupcakes was really frosting. Stapleton, unrelenting when confronted with her bad behavior was even caught on camera in an impromptu showdown,unrepentant and hostile to one of the very Democratic legislators who helped usher Palin's programs through the legislature and tried to defend the reputation of the dismissed commissioner. Rallies were held in Anchorage, in which protesters held signs showing their disdain and contempt for the once-beloved talking head who had now been reduced to just the tongue part - "Stapletongue," "Staplegun," "Meg the Mouth," and (if said with enough loathing in the voice), just plain "Meg" was enough to raise the arm hair of Alaskans who had once respected, and even liked her at one time.
The largest protest was held in mid-September of 2008 when the presidential campaign was in full swing. "Clearly, this is an Obama rally and nothing else," Stapleton spun like a top, oblivious to the real and genuine outrage, or just not caring. O'Callaghan and his legal goons were eventually driven out of the state, but Meg remained and Alaskans never forgot or forgave.
The next year brought a series of press releases, official statements, and emotional screeds penned in Stapleton's proprietary blend of bile, venom and the blood of the innocent. Levi Johnston "honed his acting skills" by lying, photoshoppers engaged in desecration of sacred "iconic" photographs of Palin, and any citizen who dared to file an ethics complaint against the governor was a hating hater who found themselves called out by name and condemned by the office of the governor. The haters just seemed to keep coming out of the woodwork, and Meg was always ready with a giant can of verbal Raid.
But always, she was by the governor's side. She renewed old ties with Fred Malek in D.C. and got Sarah invited to the prestigious Alfalfa Club Dinner, she organized Palin's visit to her home town of Auburn New York to lead the Seward's Day parade, she winged her way to the undisclosed location in San Diego and hung out with the ex-governor while ghost writer Lynn Vincent tried to take dictation for her memoir Going Rogue. She was the proverbial sidekick, the loyal rabid lapdog, Palin's #2.
But, it's always just a matter of time with Palin's inner sanctum. One by one, they fall by the wayside, either frozen out, ignored until they quit, thrown overboard in the night, or publicly chucked under the bus like human speed bumps. Campaign supporters, loyal friends, her former chief of staff, her former legislative director, her trusted inner-sanctum go-to guy, commissioners of various stripes, the Democrats who helped her pass the only memorable legislation she ever had - all gone and forgotten; all relegated to the dustbin of Palin history, sucked dry, used up and traded in.
Stapleton said she resigned to spend more time with her husband and 2-year-old daughter, Isabella.
"While it has been an honor to help Governor Palin and her family over the last few years, I am also honored to have this incredible opportunity to stay home with my precious miracle, Isabella," Stapleton told POLITICO. "At two years old, I have missed significant moments in her life but I look forward with great happiness to celebrating milestones as well as mundane moments with her as I refocus my priorities. I also look forward to seeing my saint-of-a-husband again, too!"
Anyone who closely follows Palin will undoubtedly recognize the voice.
Since the end of the presidential campaign, Stapleton has been one of only a handful of aides and trusted contacts maintained by Palin through her transition from governor, to national political figure, to author, to Fox News contributor and one of the unofficial leaders of the tea party movement.
In that time, Stapleton was a key strategic adviser and the pipeline for anyone seeking Palin's attention, including Republican officials and reporters.
"Meg has been deeply involved in all things Palin and instrumental in Sarah's many successes," Fred Malek, a prominent Republican fundraiser and Palin friend, told POLITICO. "It's hard to replace anyone so loyal, tireless, and effective, but the Palin phenomenon will continue. Meg has surely earned the privilege to devote more time to her 2-year-old daughter, but I expect she will continue to render advice to her good friend on key issues."
In a telling e-mail announcement to staff, Stapleton explained her reasoning for quitting. If you listen very carefully you'll be able to detect a couple pretty good parting shots at the almost-one-term-ex-governor.
"Earlier this week I handed Governor Palin my resignation, effective the end of this month. While I had hoped to work together on so many more projects, time with my precious two-year-old has been further minimized with the whirlwind commitments of all things Palin," she told the SarahPAC staff. "I have done my best to scale back but Isabella is now resorting to hiding my BlackBerry and she shouldn't grow up begging for a mother to start acting like a mother."
"All things Palin?" "Start acting like a mother?" Stapleton is saying you can't be an effective mother from your Blackberry? A child shouldn't grow up begging for a mother's attention? Perhaps some day we'll learn the full story. In the mean time, we can't help but wonder what Sarah Palin will actually sound like now. Farewell, Meg. Don't let the bus hit you on the way out of Dodge.
[Meg Stapleton chihuahua photo credit Dennis Zaki]