by January 20, Tue Sep 02, 2008 at 11:45:13 PM EDT
There have been countless diaries in the past few days on our VP opponent. I apologize if I've missed coverage of this aspect of her past here.
The Times' William Yardley has a fascinating look at Palin's rocky start in local politics http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/03/us/pol itics/03wasilla.html?hp The piece details some of the well-diaried issues such as her questionable economic policies and her consideration of book banning. But the focus of this piece is how she dived into the local election with a campaign of hard-core Christian dogma. It also shows that even in 1996, just two years after Newt's Contract With America, she was a tough campaigner who had already mastered the art of exploiting wedge issues - particularly religion.
For 2008, McCain has chosen a ticketmate with the very skills he deplored in 2000.
WASILLA, Alaska -- The world arrived here more than a century ago with the gold rush and later the railroad. Yet one aspect of American life did not come to town until 1996, the year Sarah Palin ran for mayor and Wasilla got its first local lesson in wedge politics.
The traditional turning points that had decided municipal elections in this town of less than 7,000 people -- Should we pave the dirt roads? Put in sewers? Which candidate is your hunting buddy? -- seemed all but obsolete the year Ms. Palin, then 32, challenged the three-term incumbent, John C. Stein.
Anti-abortion fliers circulated. Ms. Palin played up her church work and her membership in the National Rifle Association. The state Republican Party, never involved before because city elections are nonpartisan, ran advertisements on Ms. Palin's behalf.
Ms. Palin and her passion for Republican ideology and religious faith overtook a town known for a wide libertarian streak and for helping start the Iditarod dog sled race.
"Sarah comes in with all this ideological stuff, and I was like, `Whoa,' " said Mr. Stein, who lost the election. "But that got her elected: abortion, gun rights, term limits and the religious born-again thing. I'm not a churchgoing guy, and that was another issue: `We will have our first Christian mayor.' "
"I thought: `Holy cow, what's happening here? Does that mean she thinks I'm Jewish or Islamic?'" recalled Mr. Stein, who was raised Lutheran, and later went to work as the administrator for the city of Sitka in southeast Alaska. "The point was that she was a born-again Christian."
More ugliness after the bump