The words of founder Joe Vogler are proudly displayed on the Alaska Independence Party's website (at least as of this writing): "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America and her damned institutions."
Given that one of America's "damned institutions" is the Department of Defense, this raises a few questions about Gov. Palin's strength on national security issues.
In covering Sarah Palin's reported membership in this extremist party (see update), Jake Tapper quotes its current leader as saying that Sarah Palin is "a fine individual. She's forthright and she puts Alaska first."
She puts Alaska first. There's an endorsement to remember. And in case we think her past association in this party was just some youthful indiscretion, she addressed them by video hookup earlier this year. In the video shown above Palin says she is "delighted" to be addressing the group, that the party "plays an important role," and wishes them "good luck on a successful and inspiring convention."
The Alaska Independence Party wants to open all Federal lands (like state parks) to private ownership - presumably by the people who live nearby. It also wants to abolish all property taxes. It has a few other pretty extreme views, too.
"Her damned institutions." Imagine if those out-of-context remarks of Obama's preacher had been codified into a political organization - and that he had joined it. Then imagine he had come back and given a speech there a few months ago.
Joe Vogler asked that he not be buried underneath the American flag. He did, however, deny that he ever said he wanted to "nuke the glaciers."
Vogler's unsourced Wikipedia entry says cryptically that he "had an antipathy towards aspens." Yes, the trees. If true, this would be the second time a Republican VP was linked to someone with strange feelings toward that fir. (Remember Scooter Libby's note to Judy Miller, with its mysterious reference to "aspens turning in clusters"?)
I find myself struggling, Hamlet-like, with an aversion to writing pieces about the Vice Presidential candidate's wacky past. Instead of an inner child, I have an inner civics teacher that keeps saying "Why can't we talk about the issues?"
Well, this is the issue: Not just the viability of Sarah Palin as a possible President of the United States, but the judgment of John McCain. In his first and only Presidential decision so far, McCain has shown himself to be reckless, careless, and unconcerned about the effective functioning of government. Whether Palin stays or not (which has become a legitimate question) is only half the issue.
The problem with the GOP ticket is the candidate at the top.
UPDATE: The McCain campaign is denying that Palin was a member of the AIP and denying she attended the 1994 convention. Another AIP leader has come forward, however, to say that Palin was there. And the authenticity of the video above is not in question.
RJ Eskow blogs at: