The last thing John McCain wanted to kick off his convention was a maelstrom of catastrophic dimension that would cast a pall of ruin over his anointment and make his campaign look disconnected and out-of-touch, no matter how delicately he tried to handle it. But that’s what he got–and to top it all off, he got Hurricane Gustav, too.
John McCain postponed much of the start of the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul lest the party get caught flat-footed at another end-of-summer Gulf Coast storm. McCain at least took the advice that the sight of a party hooping it up in styrofoam hats in front of bunting and balloons while a 2-million-strong diaspora snaked its way along Louisiana and Mississippi freeways, heading off to fill up emergency shelters hundreds of miles from home might be bad PR nine weeks before election day.
The weather was 90 degrees and clear in St. Paul today, but there were plenty of clouds around the McCain camp as a shrill Internet rumor yesterday that Governor Palin’s daughter was actually the birth-mother of her Down’s-afflicted son, Trig, morphed into a verified story that Palin’s 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant and will marry the baby’s father (18 year-old Levi Johnston who describes himself on his MySpace page as “a fucking redneck” and says he’s “in a relationship” but “I don’t want kids.”).
That was only the biggest Palin story of the day. She caught flak for a Quaylesque moment when she defended the Pledge of Allegiance in a 2006 questionnaire for the Alasaka’s gubernatorial race, saying that she was not offended by the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me.” Principled and well-meaning, but unfortunately the Pledge wasn’t written until 1892 and the words “under God” were not added until the 1950s.
ABC’s Jake Tapper released a story on his blog today that Palin was a member of the Alaskan Independence Party in the 1990s, widely regarded as a fringe group that, according to its platform, “seek(s) the complete repatriation of the public lands, held by the federal government, to the state and people of Alaska in conformance with Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17, of the federal constitution … To prohibit all bureaucratic regulations and judicial rulings purporting to have the effect of law, except that which shall be approved by the elected legislature … To support the privatization of government services …”
In 1990, when former Republican Walter Hickel ran for Governor as an AIP member, the Seattle Post Intelligencer described the AIP as “a fringe group advocating that the 49th state declare itself a sovereign nation.”
Palin became a Republican in 1996 during her first run for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, but she’s stayed close to the AIP, sending a video message to the group this year for their annual convention.
Add to that reports that she was nearly recalled as Mayor of Wasilla when she fired the Police Chief and Library Director after they didn’t support her 1996 mayoral bid. And that she just had a moment of comic relief this weekend when Cindy McCain defended Palin’s foreign policy bonafides in that only the Bering Strait seperated her from Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which is like selling Executive Branch qualifications by saying you’d seen Air Force One twice.
She was tapped because she is an alleged maverick like Senator McCain, and that she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere, even though she campaigned in 2006 in favor of the Gravina Island Bridge. Also, the Los Angeles Times reported that the VP pick of the anti-earmark nominee has presided over Alaska’s receipt of over $379 million in earmarks during fiscal year 2008, over $100 million more than any other state, and that her state has requested 31 earmarks worth $197.8 million for next year’s budget.
That’s a hell of a week so far, and it’s only Monday. I don’t doubt they vetted Governor Palin, but did they dig any deeper than her Wikipedia page? I’m exhausted, and it wasn’t even a workday. It should be a hoot to see what the rest of the week holds.