Sarah Palin: Just Call Her "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Vanity Fair has a big feature on Sarah Palin in its new issue...and it just went up online! We'll do some analysis later, but first, some interesting tidbits from VF national editor Todd Purdum's somewhat juicy story, after the jump.

On Governor Palin's "slippery" sense of the truth:

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, and had gone without it until he got his union card and went to work for British Petroleum on the North Slope of Alaska. 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.

On the concession speech she tried to shoehorn in on election night, despite the fact that there was no precedent for a losing VP candidate delivering such a speech.

When aides went to load McCain's concession speech into the teleprompter, they found a concession speech for Palin-written by Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully, who had also been the principal drafter of her convention speech-already on the system. Schmidt and Salter told Palin that there was no tradition of Election Night speeches by running mates, and that she wouldn't be giving one. Palin was insistent. "Are those John's wishes?" she asked. They were, she was told. But Palin took the issue to McCain himself, raising it on the walk from his suite to the outdoor rally. Again the answer was no.

A snapshot of Palin's approach to preparing for debates, courtesy of her 2006 campaign for the governorship of Alaska:

But Palin's lack of knowledge turned out not to hurt her. Andrew Halcro later remembered that he and Palin once compared notes about their many encounters, and she said, "Andrew, I watch you at these debates with no notes, no papers, and yet when asked questions, you spout off facts, figures, and policies, and I'm amazed. But then I look out into the audience and I ask myself, Does any of this really matter?"

Her personality:

More than once in my travels in Alaska, people brought up, without prompting, the question of Palin's extravagant self-regard. Several told me, 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. 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."

A statement by an anonymous former McCain staffer:

Another key McCain aide summed up his attitude this way: "I guess it's sort of shifted," he said. "I always wanted to tell myself the best-case story about her." Even now, he said, "I don't want to get too negative." Then he added, "I think, as I've evaluated it, I think some of my worst fears … the after-election events have confirmed that her more negative aspects may have been there … " His voice trailed off. "I saw her as a raw talent. Raw, but a talent. I hoped she could become better."

Her childhood friend (and onetime consultant for governor), John Bitney, whom she later fired as a legislative liaison once she got into office:

When I ask Bitney what he makes of the whole Palin phenomenon, he sighs. "What do I take away from this?" he asks. "Oh, I don't know. I don't know. It's just a lot of emotions and stuff. I find it's frustrating dealing with Sarah, because it seems we're always dealing with emotional crap and we never seem to be able to focus on the business at hand that needs to be done. I don't know whether to blame her or pity her for all this emotional upheaval that we're always going through with her. Now we all get to listen to Levi and Bristol. Check my feet for horseshoes if I have to sit there and listen to another talk show. I got involved in helping her become governor because we needed to change some policy directions. Teen abstinence is not why I waved signs for her."

And my personal favorite:

Palin maintained only the barest level of civil discourse with Tucker Eskew, the veteran G.O.P. operative who had been made her chief minder. A third party had to shuttle between them to convey even the most rudimentary messages. "She started to hedge her bets," the same McCain friend says. "Frequently, she would be concerned about how something would play in Alaska. What? You're worried about your backside in Alaska when there are hundreds of millions of dollars being spent?" One longtime McCain friend and frequent companion on the trail was heard to refer to Palin as "Little Shop of Horrors."

It Came From Wasilla [Vanity Fair]