The state of Alaska has released 24,199 printed pages of emails from Sarah Palin’s tenure as governor, ranging from her 2006 inauguration to the 2008 presidential campaign.And for the most part, the media and the public have found themselves shocked–to learn how pedestrian the trove turns out to be.
Indeed, a large portion of the emails seems to confirm already-well-known Palin lore: her feuds with the Alaska state senate president, her association with a controversial pastor.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the emails was submitted by news organisations way back in 2008, leaving some political journalists to question whether they have any news relevance now.
“Sincere question. Sarah Palin is not a candidate, not an elected official, not a party official. Why do we care about her emails again?” tweeted the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent.
The answer, of course, is because she’s Sarah Palin, and buried deep in the otherwise bland correspondence, some fascinating nuggets can be found, like her stances on climate change and gay rights (not as firm as some Tea Partiers might prefer). From her praise for President Obama to her jokes with George W. Bush, read about the juiciest emails.
1. Kind Words for Obama
In an email dated Aug. 4, 2008, from her Yahoo account—just three weeks before joining Sen. John McCain’s ticket—Palin wrote that Obama had given a “great speech” in Michigan, and praised his mention of Alaska. “We need to take advantage of this a[nd] write a statement saying he’s right on,” she wrote. In a follow-up email, Palin added that Obama “did say ‘yay’ to our pipeline. Pretty cool. Wrong candidate.”
2. Climate Change a ‘Top’ Issue
Although she would later dismiss climate change as “junk science,” Palin didn’t always feel that way. In an email dated Sept. 15, 2008, she wrote that “climate change is the top issue for our state.” Later in her political career, Palin distanced herself from such a stance, at one point calling climate science “junk.”
3. Her Own Controversial Pastor
Obama has Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Palin has Pastor John Hagee. McCain rejected an endorsement from Hagee, an avowedly anti-Semitic zealot, in 2008, citing his hate speech as the reason. But in a May 3, 2007 email, Palin asked her scheduler to see if she could attend one of Hagee’s events at the Juneau Christian centre in June. When Palin learned she couldn’t make it, she wrote back, “I should try to get back to juno for this one.”
4. Hesitant on Social Issues
Palin is well known for her social conservative bona fides, so it’s fairly shocking to see that in an email dated March 16, 2007, she wrote that she was “torn” about endorsing a ballot question outlawing benefits for same-sex couples, supported by the Alaska Family Coalition. “My belief is administration should NOT attempt to sway the outcome of ballot props … my belief that we weren’t supposed to try to sway the vote once it’s in the hands of the people,” she wrote.
5. Denying Bristol’s Pregnancy…While Bristol Is Pregnant
When rumours began circulating that her 18-year-old daughter Bristol was pregnant in April 2008, the hands-on Mama Grizzly scoffed at the news, writing that the rumours are “pretty pathetic.” (PDF) What’s more, she blamed Alaska state senate president Lyda Green and her staff for brewing lies: “Flippin’ Unbelievable. Wouldn’t you think they’d be afraid of being proved wrong when they rumour around the building like that?…hopefully it’ll be another reason why reporters and the public can’t trust that odd group of strange people.” The media has found no email records of Palin rescinding her accusations after learning that Bristol would indeed give birth to her son in December 2008—eight months after the “rumours” began circulating.
6. VP Buzz and Dubya
Palin’s time as governor reveals she had a habit of forwarding messages to her staff from people supportive of her vice-presidential bid. One such message came from George W. Bush. “The [president] and I spoke about military, [including] Track’s deployment and how Iraq is a different place than it was a year ago,” Palin wrote to her chief of staff Mike Mizich, referring to an encounter she had with the then-president in early August. “He also spoke about (and we joked about) VP buzz.”
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