A Palin-Clinton alliance?

Greta Van Susteren's husband, who's been advising the Alaska governor, reportedly approached her with the idea of helping pay Hillary Clinton's campaign debt.

Published May 19, 2009 2:15PM (EDT)

If one story could sum up the reasons for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's recent missteps, a new article by Politico's Jonathan Martin might be it.

John Coale, who's married to Fox News' Greta Van Susteren and who supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary before jumping to the McCain-Palin ticket for the general election, has been a sort of informal advisor to Palin since the election. It was Coale who came up  with the idea for her to form her own political action committee, and he has reportedly been helping run it, which may explain some of the embarrassing miscommunication between the PAC and Palin's staff in Alaska.

Starting the PAC was probably a good idea. But, Martin reports, one suggestion Coale had for Palin recently was a little off the wall: He suggested that she could use the PAC's money to help pay down the remaining debt held by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. According to Martin, Coale's goal "was to help Palin develop a relationship with the former first family that he thought could bolster the polarizing governor's standing with Democrats and independents." Martin quotes one "dumbfounded Republican privy to the discussion who advocated fiercely against the idea" as saying that Coale "thought the Clintons could rein in some of the Democratic firepower aimed at her."

There are so many problems with this idea that it's hard to know where to begin, but a few big ones: The PAC could only have donated $5,000 to the cause, the Clintons would almost certainly not have been amenable to the idea of an alliance with Palin and -- despite what remaining PUMAs like Coale think -- the former First Family doesn't control Democratic politics anymore, the natural consequence of a different Democrat being elected president.

To her credit, Palin recognized the suggestion for what it was pretty quickly, and rejected it through a surrogate. Meg Stapleton, an aide to the governor, e-mailed Coale shortly after he floated the idea and wrote, "While we appreciate your efforts and recognize that a friendship with the Clintons is appropriate, the governor believes (and I concur) that using SarahPAC to pay down Hillary's debt is not a prudent use of the money. Contributors who chose between heating their homes and sending in a contribution because they believe in Sarah would be crushed."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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