From Her Race for Mayor to the 'Troopergate' Controversy: An In-Depth Look at the Governor, Hockey Mom, Hunter, Reformer, Pro-Life, 'Regular Red State Gal' Palin Didn't Always Regard Former Brother-In-Law as Bad Guy; Penned 2000 Reference Letter Calling Him 'A FINE ROLE MODEL'
Last update: 1:02 p.m. EDT Sept. 7, 2008
NEW YORK, Sept 07, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is a self-described hockey Mom who hunts moose, juggles BlackBerrys and kids. She is also riven with contradictions and complexities. Palin is a reformer, but faces allegations of exerting improper influence in city and state government. A self-styled regular Red State gal, she is relentlessly driven, a politician of epic ambition who is running against a Washington establishment that, if elected, she will inevitably join, and even rule over.
In the September 15 Newsweek cover package, "Palin-tol-ogy," (on newsstands Monday, September 8), San Francisco Bureau Chief Karen Breslau and Washington Bureau Chief Jeffrey Bartholet plumb Palin's record for a better understanding of how she sees the world and where she stands on issues.
In the wake of her nomination, so many dirt-diggers were clamoring to get into the city hall of Wasilla, Palin's hometown, that the mayor, Dianne Keller, started a number system for out-of-towners to take turns. But the media's need for details about Palin mirrors a national hunger to know more about the 44-year-old governor who has improbably shaken up an already tumultuous race for the White House. The country was introduced to her and her family over the Labor Day weekend and through the Republican National Convention. Now, however, it's time to figure out not only who she is but what she's done and what she believes. Palin's personal story taps one of the great American myths -- the hardy woman of the frontier, God-fearing and determined to succeed against the odds. But as with most political biographies, the rougher edges have been burnished. To her critics, she's also shallow, opportunistic and even corrupt herself.
Palin's sense of personal mission may be rooted in her religious upbringing. She was raised a devout Christian, attending an Assembly of God church from the age of 4 until she was 38, and baptized in the cold waters of Alaska's Little Beaver Lake when she was 12. Formed in such a milieu, it is not surprising that someone like Palin would have a heightened sense of self, and of the possibilities of self, for she was taught from her earliest days that she could be directly moved by God. Friends say the Ten Commandments imbued her with a strong sense of right and wrong. Even now, when she talks about complex political matters, she sometimes speaks in religious terms. To a church gathering, she described a $30 billion natural-gas pipeline project, backed by state tax money, as "God's will." Similarly, she said the war in Iraq was "a task that is from God ... That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for -- that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."
Palin won her first election as Wasilla mayor with help and financial support from conservative groups. Some of her positions are clear: she's pro-life, opposing abortion in all cases except when the mother's life is in danger. She opposes same-sex marriage and favors teaching creationism alongside evolution in schools. But she hasn't pushed for legislative changes in any of those areas. Her reputation is built largely on standing up to corruption. But she's also regarded by political opponents as vindictive and petty, and has been known to mix personal interests in her own political life, leading to charges of hypocrisy. The issue likely to get the most press in the coming months is "Troopergate." This concerns Palin's former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, and her alleged attempts to get him kicked off the state police force. Critics say she abused her power. Defenders say she was trying to protect her family against someone who posed a danger.
Palin, however, didn't always regard Wooten as a bad guy. Newsweek has obtained a reference letter she wrote for Wooten in January 2000. She described his good works as a volunteer in local police and youth auxiliary programs: "I have witnessed Mike's gift of calm and kindness toward many young kids here in Wasilla. I have never seen him raise his voice, nor lose patience, nor become aggitated [sic] in the presence of any child." She called him a "fine role model." The following year, he married Palin's sister Molly. But the couple broke up in April 2005 and fought a bitter custody battle. Governor Palin, her husband, Todd, and close aides are now embroiled in what has become a public controversy: they're the subject of an official investigation, ordered by the Alaska State Legislature, into allegations that they may have made improper or possibly illegal efforts to get Wooten disciplined, and even fired. (Palin says she is innocent of any wrongdoing.)
Also in the cover package:
Chief Political Correspondent Howard Fineman writes that although Palin is a tough opponent, the Democrats will need to tread carefully when coming after her. Democrats are determined to attack her credibility, and "the first -- and for Democrats, the most obvious -- way to do so is on abortion. Palin doesn't believe in abortion even in cases of rape or incest," he writes. Still, the real task of hunting Palin belongs to Biden, who "is as deeply informed on the issues as any member of the Senate, but he has a tendency to want to prove it at length." A friend of Biden's told Newsweek, "He has to be careful not to come off as heavy-handed."
Special Correspondent Jacob Weisberg writes that "pragmatic Republicans have been trying to figure out how the party can become a 'big tent,' making room for a pro-choice as well as a pro-life faction. Until recently, the modernizers included John McCain," he writes. "But renewed evangelical dominance of the Republican Party in the George W. Bush years has pushed McCain in just the opposite direction ... It explains how McCain ended up with a wildly underqualified running mate in Sarah Palin, instead of his preferred pro-choice veep picks, Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge."
Assistant Managing Editor Kathy Deveny writes an essay on why she likes Sarah Palin. "If I'm really honest with myself, I'm mostly just happy that there's another woman on the national political stage. I think it's good for my 8-year-old daughter, who has called Hillary Clinton her idol. She doesn't love Hillary because of her health-care policy or pro-choice stance: she loves Hillary because she thinks girls rule. The more powerful women there are on the national stage, the better it is for all women, because this is a game of numbers," she writes. (Read the cover package at http://www.newsweek.com/ )
Cover: An Apostle of Alaska
What Happened to Family Values?
Beware the Barracuda
Confessions of a Secret Sarah Admirer
SOURCE Newsweek http://www.newsweek.msnbc.com/
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