August 30, 2008


McCain’s Mrs. Right : Gov. Sarah Palin came out of nowhere to win the John McCain veep sweepstakes. Well, not quite nowhere. (Evan Thomas and Karen Breslau, Aug 30, 2008, Newsweek)

Sarah Palin posed for a photo spread in Vogue, but that's about as far as the glamour goes. She piles her hair up in a librarian's bun and wears what she calls "schoolmarm" glasses (one blogger compared her to "Tina Fey's sexier sister"). She was at one time a beauty queen, Miss Wasilla 1984, in her hometown, population: 7,000 or so. "We were really surprised when she wanted to do it," her father, Chuck, told the Vogue reporter. "That wasn't her thing." Basketball and hunting were more like it. Palin regretted the whole beauty pageant experience. "They made us line up in bathing suits and turn our backs so the male judges could look at our butts. I couldn't believe it!" she told Vogue.

She tried being a sportscaster for a while, but ended up as a politician, or rather an anti-politician. She seemed to love to take on the good ole boys, to get in the face of the state's Republican political establishment and Big Oil, the two dominant forces in Alaska, at least until Palin came along. She smiles a lot and has a thick skin, laughing off reporters who write about her black go-go boots or leering bloggers, like the Washington, D.C.-based Wonkette, which dubbed her "the hottest governor in all 50 states." She is fearless and natural, and it's no wonder she charmed a fierce contrarian like John McCain. "He saw a lot of himself in her," says campaign manager Rick Davis. Whether she can help or hurt his candidacy is another question. She is not just the first Republican woman to run for vice president. She is about as far from conventional notions of a safe, reassuring No. 2 type as can be imagined.

Palin is an American original. She calls herself a "hockey mom" and manages to juggle the lives of her five children (the last, born with Down syndrome, is less than 5 months old) while running the state of Alaska and routinely antagonizing the powers that be. Last fall a NEWSWEEK reporter visited her office in Anchorage. The governor's office overlooks the sparkling Cook Inlet, ringed by mountains, except right smack in the view is a skyscraper adorned with the name CONOCO PHILLIPS in giant letters, a reminder of the prominence of Big Oil in the state capital. The throw rug on her couch is the skin of a grizzly bear shot by her father, a retired teacher turned "nuisance-control specialist" (varmint hunter for hire) whose pickup truck bears the sticker VEGETARIAN—OLD INDIAN WORD FOR "BAD HUNTER." (Palin herself is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association; for years, she or her husband caught all the fish or shot all the meat that her family eats.) As she spoke to the reporter, she juggled two BlackBerrys and a cell phone, with one always buzzing. She seemed unfazed, indeed to be having fun. As strands of hair fell from her librarian's bun she deftly executed an intricate "don't drop the BlackBerry while fixing the bobby pin" maneuver, several times.

One of Palin's first acts as governor was to sell the governor's jet on eBay.

Campaigns Shift as McCain Choice Alters the Race (ADAM NAGOURNEY, JIM RUTENBERG and JEFF ZELENY, 8/30/08, NY Times)
A day after Mr. McCain announced his decision, catching almost everyone but his inner circle by surprise, both sides were trying to gauge the risks and opportunities of having a young, relatively inexperienced, socially conservative woman on the Republican ticket.

The Obama campaign and the Democratic Party had prepared advertisements and lines of attack directed at the two men who had been most prominently mentioned as vice-presidential possibilities for Mr. McCain — former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota — but had not considered Ms. Palin a likely enough choice to do the same for her. A new advertisement linking President Bush to Mr. McCain was quickly put together, but it contained only a fleeting mention of Ms. Palin.

That tentativeness reflected what Mr. Obama’s advisers said was their struggle to figure out how to challenge the credentials and the ideology of a woman whose candidacy could be embraced by many women as a historic milestone. Once formally nominated at the Republican convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul this week, Ms. Palin, who was elected governor two years ago, will be the second woman chosen by a major party as a vice-presidential candidate.

Mr. Obama’s campaign does not plan to go directly after Ms. Palin in the days ahead. Instead, it is planning to increase its attacks on Mr. McCain for his opposition to pay equity legislation and abortion rights — two issues of paramount concern to many women — as it tries to head off his effort to use Ms. Palin to draw Democratic and independent women who had supported Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. [...]

James C. Dobson, the influential conservative Christian leader who said in the primaries that he could never vote for Mr. McCain, said the selection of Ms. Palin had won him over. If he went into the voting booth today, Mr. Dobson told the talk radio host Dennis Prager on Friday, “I would pull that lever.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 30, 2008 7:15 PM

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