The New York Times has published a 7,800-word profile of Sarah Palin by writer Robert Draper who spent time with the Alaskan conservative during the weeks leading up to the 2010 midterm elections. It's an "excellent piece of reporting," says Matthew Continetti at the Weekly Standard, a "sympathetic" take on Palin that really "gets the governor right." The article is certainly no hit job, says Greg Mitchell at The Nation. In fact, Draper "barely presses her on key issues, and doesn't talk to a single critic." But he does dig up plenty of details about what life is like in "Palin World." Here's a rundown of 5 key talking points:
1. Palin is mulling a 2012 run
It's hardly a big surprise given the relentless speculation, but the former governor told Draper she is seriously considering a 2012 presidential run: "I'm engaged in the internal deliberations candidly, and having that discussion with my family." The need to "prove" her record, she added, is "a hurdle I would have to cross... that's the most frustrating thing for me — the warped and perverted description of my record and what I've accomplished over the last two decades."
2. Why Palin quit as governor
The Times piece sheds some additional light on Palin's decision to step down as Alaska's governor in the summer of 2009. According to former White House aide Fred Malek, Palin listed a number of reasons to quit after her unsuccessful run as a vice-presidential candidate, which Draper paraphrases as follows: "I've got a long commute from my house to my office. I don't have the funds to pay for my family to travel with me, and the state won't pay for it, either. I can't afford to have security at my home — anybody can come up to my door, and they do. Under the laws of Alaska, anybody can file suit or an ethics charge against me, and I have to defend it on my own. I'm going into debt." Later in the piece, Palin claims that McCain campaign staff reneged on a promise to cover costs for "any legal inquiry that arose during the campaign."
3. Palin makes endorsements with "calculating shrewdness"
Perhaps with an eye to 2012, Palin was extremely careful about whom to endorse during the midterms, writes Draper. She endorsed Terry Branstad for governor of Iowa, a key primary state, without having met him or having been asked for support. Similarly, in New Hampshire she chose establishment candidate Kelly Ayotte over Tea Party candidate Ovide Lamontagne who, reveals Draper, "tried to endear himself to Palin by sending her a photograph of himself alongside the carcass of a deer he had just shot." She "prudently" chose to decline an invitation to campaign for Christine "I'm not a witch" O'Donnell on Halloween in favor of watching a New York Jets football game.
4. The "inefficiency" of Palin World
Though Palin has acquired considerable authority, says Draper, her political operation is a slapdash affair. "Palin World," as Draper terms it, is "a world without hierarchy or even job descriptions." There is no chief of staff, no defined leaders and no media-relations person. Each member of the eight or nine person team simply does whatever is "in front of them that day," as determined by Palin's instincts. "There is no über-strategy," Malek tells the Times. Thanks to this "inefficiency," Palin has inadvertently snubbed overtures from "influential" Republicans, including Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and members of the National Review's editorial board.
5. What Palin's reading: John Adams, C.S. Lewis... and Glenn Beck
The conservative doyenne became "testy" when Draper asked her about her reading material, complaining that she is "still dealing" with her infamous interview with Katie Couric during the 2008 campaign. But she lists some on-message reading material after a little prodding: Biographies of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the John Adams letters, and C.S. Lewis "for inspiration." She also plans to read books by conservative pundits Mark Levin and fellow Fox News staffer Glenn Beck. "Now because I'm opening up," she says, "I'm afraid I'm going to get reporters saying, Oh, she only reads books by Glenn Beck."