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Is Sarah Palin A Closet John Bircher?

palin2.thumbnail.jpgMichael Shaw at BAGNewsNotes found this 1995 image of Sarah Palin at her Wasilla City Council desk. It appears to be her official portrait, and a mundane one at that.

What’s striking, as Michael points out, is the article in front of her: It’s a piece about the "Con Con Call" — one of those hysterical non-issues that conspiracy theorists of the far right in 1995 were shrieking about, involving an attempt by a handful of governors to organize a convention aimed at fighting what they saw as states’ subordinate status. (Yes, the shrieking shut it down.)

One of the organizers of that particular torch-bearing mob was the John Birch Society. And sure enough, the article that Palin is proudly displaying in this portrait is a copy of the March 1995 edition of New American, the house organ of the Birch Society.

The article in question was written by Don Fotheringham. (It’s no longer in the NA’s archives, but you can read the text of it at this site.)

The Birchers are best known for their ardent McCarthyism and their long career in promoting cockamamie conspiracy theories about supposed Communist infiltration of government — not just in the ’50s and ’60s, but well into the late ’80s, until the fall of the Soviet Union. At that point, they simply picked up the same act and transferred it to promoting similar theories about the "New World Order" under Bill Clinton in the 1990s. (Chip Berlet has one of the best disquisitions on the Birch Society’s long career.)

These same theories were the raison d’etre of the militia movement — and indeed, the Birch Society ardently promoted the militias and related "Patriot" activity. I used to see their material on sale at militia gatherings regularly.

So it’s probably not a coincidence that Sarah Palin was proudly reading Bircher magazines at the same time she and her husband were attending Alaskan Independence Party gatherings and making friends with its leaders, and the same year her husband signed up as a member. Because the AIP, as we’ve detailed, has a long history of being part of this same "Patriot" movement contingent.

It might be no wonder that an AIP follower like Todd Palin doesn’t believe he has respond to official subpoenas. After all, "sovereign citizenship" — fancy words for "I’m exempt from your laws" (based on the notion that the government was "illegitimate") — was a staple of the Patriots, too.

That’s quite the VP nominee John McCain picked there.

UPDATE: Ben Smith at Politico has the story too.

[Thanks to Marcy and Blue Texan for their legwork on this.]

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David Neiwert

David Neiwert

David Neiwert is the managing editor of Firedoglake. He's a freelance journalist based in Seattle and the author/editor of the blog Orcinus. He also is the author of Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community (Palgrave/St. Martin's Press, June 2005), as well as Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America (Palgrave/St. Martin's, 2004), and In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (1999, WSU Press). His reportage for on domestic terrorism won the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in 2000.