RFK Jr. Cozies Up to Alaskan Party He Called a ‘Treasonous Cabal’

rfk alaska

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was appalled — appalled! — to learn in 2008 that Sarah Palin, then-GOP nominee John McCain’s running mate, once had ties to the Alaskan Independence Party. 

In a HuffPost op-ed titled, “Alaskan Independence Party: The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel,” Kennedy excoriated Palin for continuing to “‘pal around’ with a man — her husband, actually — who only recently terminated his seven-year membership” with AIP. (Recently was a bit of a stretch: Todd Palin ended his affiliation with the party six years before Kennedy’s editorial was published.)

In the piece, Kennedy described the Alaskan Independence Party as a “treasonous cabal” whose members “aim to break our country into pieces and walk away with Alaska’s rich federal oil fields and one-fifth of America’s land base — an area three-fourths the size of the Civil War Confederacy.”

Today, the Kennedy campaign is seeking the party’s backing to appear on the Alaska ballot.

In his 2008 piece, Kennedy noted the party was founded by a man named Joe Vogler, who renounced his allegiance to the United States, declaring before his death: “The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government.” (Palin, Kennedy wrote at the time, “has never denounced Vogler or his detestable anti-Americanism.”) 

Kennedy also noted that AIP has advocated for seceding from the U.S., which the party charter calls “the colonial bureaucracy in Washington,” and that AIP characterized Alaska’s 1959 induction as a state “as illegal and in violation of the United Nations charter and international law.” 

According to the party’s current chair, Bob Bird, who hosted the candidate on his radio program last week, Kennedy now wants to run on the Alaskan Independence Party’s ballot line.

Kennedy is only officially on the ballot in one state — Utah — but according to his campaign, as of Tuesday, he has collected the necessary signatures to appear on six others: New Hampshire, Nevada, Hawaii, North Carolina, Idaho, and Nebraska.

Bird told Rolling Stone that AIP’s negotiations with the Kennedy campaign about the possibility of his appearing on AIP’s ballot line went on for six weeks. “We were sympathetic to him because of what we consider to be a very courageous stand about COVID, and also about the weaponization of the Justice Department at the southern border,” Bird said. “The AIP is not in favor of American overseas adventurism with the military, either.”

AIP’s talks with the Kennedy campaign culminated with Kennedy’s recent appearance on Bird’s radio show, The Talk of the Kenai, and an interview that Bird hoped would help inform party members’ views of Kennedy ahead of their nominating convention this weekend. 

During the radio spot, Bird questioned Kennedy about Alaska’s induction as a state, and AIP’s claim that the induction violated the U.N. Charter — a claim Kennedy highlighted with apparent alarm in his 2008 op-ed. On the radio, Kennedy said he was “not familiar” with the claim, adding “the federal government should keep its word… If there’s a commitment the federal government made that it didn’t live up to, I’d want to know about it and figure out how to make it right.”

Bird also asked Kennedy whether, as president, he would address the “economic crisis tied to the lockup of our state’s natural resources,” and work to “unthaw” federal control of Alaskan land. 

“I want to work with you on it, and hear your concerns,” Kennedy answered. He added, “You might not want to hear this, but I’ve been active about preserving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil development… I’ve spent a lot of time hunting up there, fishing up there, hiking. It’s extraordinary wilderness. I believe there are parts of our country — like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, Yosemite — that we shouldn’t develop unless there is some existential need to do so.”

Bird told Rolling Stone he was not aware of Kennedy’s op-ed before hosting him on his program. He disputed Kennedy’s 2008 assertion that AIP advocated for secession. “The Alaskan Independence Party is not guilty of treason. We’re just simply wanting to get our treaty options recognized,” Bird said. (One of those options is the possibility of becoming an independent country, though he stressed it is not the only option.)

Bird said he wouldn’t fault Kennedy if he didn’t recall writing the editorial. ”I write hundreds of columns a year,” he said. “I’ve had something like 2,000 radio shows now. I can’t remember everything I’ve said or written.”

But, the AIP chair added, he was skeptical Kennedy would receive the party’s support after all. “The bottom line is his interview probably put a dose of cold water on those who were hoping to see him placed on the ballot here,” Bird said. “The nicest thing he said was that he had been to Alaska frequently, he had even hunted and fished. Most Alaskans can’t do that, and that’s because most Alaskans aren’t rich enough to get into the wilderness. To many of us, we’re a playground for the elite.”

A representative for the Kennedy campaign said that his interview with “the most popular radio host in Alaska, who also happens to be the chair of the Alaskan Independence Party” should not be confused with an endorsement of the party’s platform.

“Mr. Kennedy’s interview was consistent with his efforts, since the start of this campaign, to reach across the divide that separates Americans and try to end the polarization and the rancor,” campaign press secretary Stefanie Spear said.

Spear did not respond to questions about whether Kennedy’s opinion of the AIP had changed since 2008, or if the candidate cared to “denounce the detestable anti-Americanism” of AIP’s founder, as he faulted Palin for failing to in 2008. 


The Kennedy campaign, she added, “is working to collect the needed signatures to get Mr. Kennedy on the ballot as an independent candidate not affiliated with any party.”

The AIP convention is set to take place on Saturday at the Roundup Steakhouse & Saloon in Fairbanks.

Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/rfk-kennedy-alaskan-independence-party-1235002060/

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