There's a long look at Gov. Palin and inside her inner circle in the New York Times Magazine by Robert Draper. Consider the source: more attention is paid to those candidates the governor endorsed who lost than won, for example. But it doesn't sink to the level of the sort of anti-Palin agitprop we've come to expect from the Times either. At least it isn't an overt hit piece in the sense of something that would appear in Vanity Fair or on a gutter website like Gawker. Gov. Palin apparently consented to allow Draper to interview her and also to talk to her key aides, so it's worth the read, with the usual caveats about the lamestream media's warped view of all things beyond New York City and Washington, DC. Here are a few excerpts:
“I am,” Sarah Palin told me... when I asked her if she was already weighing a run for president. “I’m engaged in the internal deliberations candidly, and having that discussion with my family, because my family is the most important consideration here.” Palin went on to say that there weren’t meaningful differences in policy among the field of G.O.P. hopefuls “but that in fact there’s more to the presidency than that” and that her decision would involve evaluating whether she could bring unique qualities to the table.Update: At TWS Blog, Matthew Continetti judges Draper's NY Times cover story to be "an excellent piece of reporting that treats Palin in a relatively sympathetic manner." The key word there is "relatively."
“Yes, the organization would have to change,” Palin said during an hourlong phone conversation. “I’d have to bring in more people — more people who are trustworthy,” she clarified. Palin said that her experience as John McCain’s running mate was for the most part “amazing, wonderful, do it again in a heartbeat.” But she added, “What Todd and I learned was that the view inside the bus was much better than underneath it, and we knew we got thrown under it by certain aides who weren’t principled” and that “the experience taught us, yes, to be on guard and be very discerning about who we can and can’t trust in the political arena.”
It’s a curious feature of Palin World that none of its charter members knew her before 2008. (Her two longtime Alaska aides, Kris Perry and Meghan Stapleton, left amicably but wearied by the demands involved with working for an overnight celebrity.) Van Flein met Palin in the summer of 2008, recruited by Todd Palin to give legal advice on the Troopergate controversy. He now divides his time between his Anchorage legal practice and his position as one of Palin’s four lieutenants. The others are Andrew Davis, the political director who resides in Sacramento; Tim Crawford, the group’s elder statesman at 58, whose political experience extends back to Goldwater and who in early 2009 was forced out as the R.N.C.’s interim finance director, by which time John Coale had already recruited him to be the treasurer of SarahPAC; and Palin’s 36-year-old Los Angeles-based cybermessenger, Rebecca Mansour. Palin’s broader circle also includes Jason Recher and Doug McMarlin, who handle her travel logistics from, respectively, New Orleans and Columbus, Ohio; Pam Pryor, who works with Crawford at SarahPAC as the liaison to the evangelical and Christian community; and Randy Scheunemann, a prominent neoconservative and former McCain foreign-policy adviser. Crawford, Pryor, Scheunemann and two occasional speechwriters, Chriss Winston and Lindsay Hayes, all live in or around Washington. Among the D.C. consultants, however, only Crawford interacts with Palin on a regular basis. More than once in our discussions, Van Flein referred to “those people who are of the Beltway and those who aren’t” — a binary worldview to which Palin obviously adheres. (Press reports variously name Fred Malek; Bill Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard; and Kim Daniels, a conservative lawyer, as key advisers, when in fact Daniels has not worked for Palin for several months and Malek and Kristol are seldom in contact with her. “It’s nearly every single day we learn a lesson about a person who claims to speak for us or work for us,” Palin told me. “Seems 9 times out of 10, Todd and I look at each other and say, ‘Who is this speaking for us?’ ”)
There are few spouses in politics as hard-working as 46-year-old Todd Mitchell Palin — a native of Dillingham, Alaska, who married his Wasilla High School sweetheart and dropped out of college and eventually found work in the North Slope oil fields. He handles her travel. He is at times her sole accompaniment to events. He is — with apologies to the mama grizzly — the family’s chief protector, who has been known to nix interview requests from publications that have previously, in his view, made fun of his children. It has fallen to Todd to mollify alienated aides, interview potential speechwriters and help prep his wife for an interview by Googling subject matter on his BlackBerry. Referring to the ongoing communications in Palin World, Thomas Van Flein told me, “Todd is always part of the information chain.” In the external world it is widely understood that when sending Sarah Palin an e-mail “the best idea is to copy Todd on it,” according to Malek.
Palin became testy when I asked her about the books I heard she had been reading. “I’ve been reading since I was a little girl,” she snapped. “And my mom is standing 15 feet away from me, and I should put her on the phone with you right now so she can tell you. That’s what happens when you grow up in a house full of teachers — you read; and I always have. Just because — and,” she continued, though in a less blistering tone, “I don’t want to come across sounding caustic or annoyed by this issue: because of one roll-of-the-eye answer to a question I gave, I’m still dealing with this,” she said, referring to her interview with Katie Couric. “There’s nothing different today than there was in the last 43 years of my life since I first started reading. I continue to read all that I can get my hands on — and reading biographies of, yes, Thatcher for instance, and of course Reagan and the John Adams letters, and I’m just thinking of a couple that are on my bedside, I go back to C.S. Lewis for inspiration, there’s such a variety, because books have always been important in my life.” She went on: “I’m reading [the conservative radio host] Mark Levin’s book; I’ll get ahold of Glenn Beck’s new book — and now because I’m opening up,” she finished warily, “I’m afraid I’m going to get reporters saying, Oh, she only reads books by Glenn Beck.”