The Most Unflattering Parts of Vanity Fair’s Sarah Palin Profile

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This photo: also unflattering. Photo: Getty Images

If you're a fan of Alaska governor Sarah Palin, there's not a lot for you to love in Todd Purdum's new 9,800-word Vanity Fair profile — starting with the monster-movie title "It Came From Wasilla" — which explores not just the failed presidential campaign, not just her tenure as Alaska's governor, but the entire essence of Palin. But if you are one of the many Americans who love to hate Palin (or simply hate her), this is basically Christmas morning. And because nobody should have to exert themselves on Christmas, we've pulled out the ten most unflattering ways that Palin was depicted in the article for your convenient perusal.

10. Palin Doesn't Have Alaska's Best Interests at Heart: Palin's initial refusal to accept a third of the federal stimulus money offered to Alaska during a budget deficit "seemed calculated to burnish her national conservative credentials." After a "bipartisan outcry," Palin decided to take "all but about 3 percent of the $900 million available to Alaska. The consensus even among the Republicans I spoke to was that she rejected the last $28 million — for energy assistance — mostly to save face."

9. Palin Makes Questionable Personnel Decisions: Being an old friend of Palin's paid off once she became governor, because she'd probably give you a job on the basis of that friendship. One "became director of the state Division of Agriculture, citing a childhood love of cows as one qualification." Palin also has the distinction of nominating the only Cabinet nominee in Alaska's history to be rejected — would-be attorney general Wayne Anthony Ross, who referred to gays as "degenerates" and "drives a big red Hummer with the vanity license plate WAR."

8. Palin Is Not a Good Studier: We never did find out why exactly Palin switched colleges six times in six years, but perhaps her difficulty preparing for interviews and debates holds a clue. During a preparatory session before the run-up to the vice-presidential debate, Palin "just stared down, disengaged, non-participatory." Back during the prep for an Alaskan gubernatorial debate, Palin aide Curtis Smith reportedly told his business partner, "The debate prep’s going horribly. Every time we try to help her with an answer, she just gets mad."

7. Palin Is Not a Team Player: After she expressed concern about her standing back in Alaska, McCain's chief strategist Steve Schmidt "agreed to conduct a onetime poll of 300 Alaska voters. It would prove to Palin, Schmidt thought, that everything was all right." But after the collapse of the national economy and McCain's "suspension," Schmidt "scrapped the Alaska poll and urgently set out to survey voters’ views of the economy (and of McCain’s response to it) in competitive states. Palin was furious. She was convinced that Schmidt had lied to her, a belief she conveyed to anyone who would listen." In another instance, near the end of the campaign, "Todd was calling around to Republicans in South Carolina, urging them to keep his wife in mind for 2012 — the implication being that the Palins believed McCain was about to lose."

6. Palin Uses People: During her campaign for governor, Palin "won the crucial support" of two-time former Alaska governor Walter Hickel "in part by supporting one of his longtime hobbyhorses, an 'all-Alaska' natural-gas pipeline that would pump gas to the port of Valdez for export worldwide. As the campaign wore on, Palin backed away from that idea. 'I helped her out, she got elected,' Hickel says now. 'She never called me once in her life after that.'"

5. Palin Writes Creepy E-mails: "When Trig was born, Palin wrote an e-mail letter to friends and relatives, describing the belated news of her pregnancy and detailing Trig’s condition; she wrote the e-mail not in her own name but in God’s, and signed it 'Trig’s Creator, Your Heavenly Father.'"

4. Palin Has Mentally Scarred McCain Campaign Aides: Eight months after the election, some members of Team McCain are still haunted by their experience with Palin.

"[T]he senior members of McCain’s campaign team have undergone a painful odyssey of their own. In recent rounds of long conversations, most made it clear that they suffer a kind of survivor’s guilt: they can’t quite believe that for two frantic months last fall, caught in a Bermuda Triangle of a campaign, they worked their tails off to try to elect as vice president of the United States someone who, by mid-October, they believed for certain was nowhere near ready for the job, and might never be. They quietly ponder the nightmare they lived through."


3. Palin Is Vindictive: As governor, she fired her legislative liaison John Bitney after he fell in love with the wife of her best friend. In the infamous Troopergate scandal, she fired Walt Monegan, the head the state’s Department of Public Safety, after he refused to fire "a state trooper who had been involved in a messy divorce from Palin’s sister Molly."

2. Palin Is Full of Herself: Almost unbelievably, Purdum writes that several Alaskans told him, "independently of one another, that they had consulted the definition of 'narcissistic personality disorder' in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — 'a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy' — and thought it fit her perfectly."

1. Palin Is a Compulsive Liar: During the campaign, Andrew Sullivan painstakingly chronicled Palin's tendency to tell "odd lies." Here's another example:

"At one point, trying out a debating point that she believed showed she could empathize with uninsured Americans, Palin told McCain aides that she and Todd in the early years of their marriage had been unable to afford health insurance of any kind .... Checking with Todd Palin himself revealed that, no, they had had catastrophic coverage all along. She insisted that catastrophic insurance didn’t really count and need not be revealed."


And another from Lydia Green, president of the State Senate:

"And she comes on TV and says, ‘I want to once again confirm that neither I nor my staff ever holds closed-door meetings.’ Well, we had just been in a closed-door meeting for an hour and a half!”


And another:

"Palin’s old nemesis, the Alaska Republican Party chair Randy Ruedrich, called on Stevens’s Democratic successor, Mark Begich, who had defeated Stevens just days after the original conviction last fall, to step down and allow a new election. Palin told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in an e-mail, “I absolutely agree.” Days later, at a news conference, Palin insisted she had never called on Begich to step down."


On the other hand, Purdum does concede that Palin is "by far the best-looking woman ever to rise to such heights in national politics." So, she's got that going for her.

It Came from Wasilla [VF]