I’m only about halfway through Blind Allegiance. This is not normally the kind of book I read, but Jeanne Devon, who writes the Mudflats blog, co-wrote it, so of course I had to get it. It broke in the top 100 on Amazon, hitting the lower 40s at its peak.
Since the full title is Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin, I did expect the book to be somewhat about Palin, and it is. It is more about the main author though, Frank Bailey, who managed her gubernatorial campaign and worked for her when she was governor, and his loss of his soul (and the subsequent, we hope, regaining of it).
What makes Frank Bailey’s book different from other boring campaign tell-alls is that he brings e-mails sent by Palin. Lots of e-mails: between 50,000-60,000. Not all of them are in the book, of course. It is the e-mails, which are irrefutable, that make the Palin camp dislike Bailey so much, and probably what spawns the epithet “disloyal” instead of the more common “disgruntled.” While Palin was governor, she and her “inner circle” conducted state business through private e-mail accounts like Yahoo and G-mail. An Alaskan citizen actually filed an ethics complaint about this, demanding that the e-mails be made available to the public since the public’s business was conducted there. The finding was that, while it is a bad practice to conduct state business on a non-secure private e-mail account, the accounts were private and do not have to be opened to the public. Using that same logic, Bailey is making the e-mails sent to his own personal account available in his book. And now, that’s the subject of an ethics investigation. All very circular.
What stands out, and I’ve only finished Chapter Eleven, is how quickly Frank Bailey and the “Rag Tag,” as Palin’s inner circle of campaign volunteers called themselves, relaxed their ethics in their zeal to get her elected.
The first startling example was the letters to the editor. Palin was in a three-way race in the primary, and the Republican candidate picked up some of her ideas and sound bites and began using them. He also designed a website that had some of the same elements as Palin’s. Palin was furious about this. I guess she believed that she had some kind of intellectual property right to these elements, (the color red, Abraham Lincoln), and was incensed that her opponent could get away with using them. One day, Frank got an e-mail from Palin that read, “Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would write a letter to the editor of the Alaska Daily News, and just say something like this?” Then, in three paragraphs, she writes the letter: 1) Sarah Palin is fresh, feisty and a reformer; 2) Can’t help noticing that the other Republican candidate is stealing her ideas; 3) Wow, her opponent’s website looks just like Sarah’s! Isn’t that cheating?
Frank e-mails back that, yes, it would be nice if someone wrote a letter like that. Then they decide that since someone (Palin) already has, they’ll just get a neighbor or friend of a campaigner to send it in to the ADN. They do, and it gets published. This sends them off on a flurry of letter writing. They are careful to make sure that the people they give the finished letters to, to sign and mail from their addresses, are never directly involved with the campaign. Later, when the campaign’s lawyer e-mails Frank that the campaign should not get caught proofing (editing) letters, Frank thinks how upset the guy would be if he knew the campaign was writing the letters.
Is this so bad, really? I mean, every time any local non-profit is applying for a grant and needs a letter of support, they send me a ‘sample.’ I frequently draft “talking points” for our allies in funding fights or initiatives. Is there a difference? Yes, I think there is; and more importantly, so did Frank Bailey. Unfortunately for Frank Bailey, he thought there was a line that had been crossed only as he saw that line dwindling in his moral rear-view mirror.
This was the first example, the pinch to the gut that Bailey ignored. What comes through in so many words, so far at least, was the idea that these things were okay because God wanted Palin to get elected.
Historically, the chosen of God don’t usually fare so well. The Jews, Jesus Christ and Joan d’Arc come to mind as examples. If you are really chosen by God, it seems that a short life and early death are probably what you should expect. If you are going to live, you should do it with an attitude of complete humility. Contrast this with the beliefs of self-styled “Christians” like Palin and her crew, who act on the assumption that once you are chosen by God, the usual rules don’t apply to you. Lying, cheating? Those are terrible things for those other people to do. For us, though? It’s okay. God wants us to win. Spying on others, suborning people who are contractually obligated to work for the opponent? Despicable! For us, though? It’s okay. God wants us to win.
I was startled by the letters. It seemed so obviously wrong and kind of childish, besides. I didn’t know what was coming. I hadn’t read up to the part, yet, about Andrew Halcro.