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Sarah Palin: the 'sexiest and riskiest' GOP brand

By Dave Cook / June 30, 2009



Sarah Palin’s political past and potential future get an in-depth examination in the August issue of Vanity Fair. The report, by VF national editor Todd S. Purdum, calls Palin, “at once the sexiest and the riskiest brand in the Republican Party,” citing her deep appeal to those who share her convictions and resentments.

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Senior members of Senator John McCain's campaign team talked extensively with Purdum for the article.

“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,” Purdum writes.

Obama: not enough time for Palin to prepare

Candidate Barack Obama told aides he did not think Palin would have time after she was selected as McCain's running mate to get up to speed as a national candidate. “I don’t care how talented she is, this is really a leap,” Vanity Fair quotes Obama as saying.

After spending time reporting in Alaska, Purdum writes that “the brutal reality is that many people who have worked closely with Palin have found themselves disillusioned.” Former Governor Walter Hickel, who was co-chair of her 2006 gubernatorial campaign, said “I helped her out, she got elected… She never called me once in her life after that.”

Can't count her out

The lengthy report on Governor Palin offers a heavy dose of criticism for alleged political missteps from a variety of sources. But Purdum does not count Palin out of the political game, regardless of whether she runs for re-election.

“Palin has shown herself to have remarkable gut instincts about raw politics, and she has seen openings where others did not,” Purdum writes. “And she has the good fortune to have traction within a political party that is bereft of strong leadership, and whose rank and file often demands qualities other than knowledge, experience, and an understanding that facts are, as John Adams said, stubborn things.... She may decide that she does not need office in order to have great influence—any more than Rush Limbaugh does.”