Eight months later

EIGHT MONTHS LATER…. CBS News published an item late yesterday, pointing to a series of internal emails sent within the McCain-Palin campaign three weeks before Election Day. Their source is probably more interesting than their content.

At the time, the issue was reports in October about Sarah Palin’s husband’s membership in an Alaskan political party that supports secession from the United States. The governor was working a ropeline when someone said something about this, prompting the VP nominee to demand that the campaign address the questions.

Leading campaign officials balked, choosing instead to focus their attention on the final Obama-McCain debate, and hoping to blow off questions regarding Palin’s husband’s patriotism. The more her demands went unmet, the angrier Palin became, prompting one email in which she tried to fudge some details to the campaign’s own staff. This didn’t go over well.

Clearly irritated by what he saw as Palin’s attempt to mislead her own campaign and apparently determined to demonstrate that the ultimate authority rested with him, Schmidt put the matter to rest once and for all with a longer response to everyone in the e-mail chain.

“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 [sic]. The innaccuracy [sic] would bring greater media attention to this matter and be a distraction. According to your staff there have been no media inquiries into this and you received no questions about it during your interviews. If you are asked about it you should smile and say many alaskans who love their country join the party because it speeks [sic] to a tradition of political independence. Todd loves his country

We will not put out a statement and inflame this and create a situation where john has to adress this.”

Schmidt’s rebuttal to Palin’s suggestion that reporters had asked her about the issue was particularly blunt in that it implicitly questioned her truthfulness. Furthermore, his unwillingness to budge an inch on the matter was a remarkable assertion of his power to pull rank over the candidate herself.

OK, so the McCain-Palin campaign was something of a train wreck. This is further evidence, but it’s hardly shocking.

The more interesting point, though, especially in light of this week’s other drama/backbiting, is that eight months later, these folks are still fighting amongst themselves. After all, someone had to leak these emails to CBS News, and that someone no doubt realized the messages would make Palin look bad.

It’s tempting to think this food fight would have ended quite a while ago. And yet, here we are.