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Sarah Palin's Ego

The best anecdote from Todd Purdum's long Vanity Fair story on Sarah Palin is also the one that best captures the Alaska governor's solipsism.

In the run-up to the Couric interview, Palin had become preoccupied with a far more parochial concern: answering a humdrum written questionnaire from her hometown newspaper, the Frontiersman. McCain aides saw it as easy stuff, the usual boilerplate, the work of 20 minutes or so, but Palin worried intently. At the same time, she grew concerned that her approval ratings back home in Alaska were sagging as she embraced the role of McCain’s bad cop. To keep her happy, the chief McCain 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.

Then came the near-total meltdown of the financial system and McCain’s much-derided decision to briefly “suspend” his campaign. Under the circumstances, and with severely limited resources, Schmidt and the McCain-campaign chairman, Rick Davis, 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.

Throughout the piece, Purdum explicitly addresses Palin's self-centeredness--rather than merely hinting at it. Although the article is a fun read, the most interesting aspect of the Palin saga--i.e. what on earth was John McCain thinking--may never be known. Purdum notes:

McCain’s daughter Meghan, who has continued the blog she began on the campaign last year, has said that Palin is the one topic on which she will have no public comment.

Still, Purdum spoke to plenty of McCain aides, and his reporting makes clear that the Palin choice brought to the surface uncomfortable, internal questions about the man in charge. 

--Isaac Chotiner