Earlier this fall, Vanity Fair published an error-ridden and badly sourced hatchet job on Sarah Palin. It was par for the course. But it was disappointing nonetheless for anyone who hoped that, one day, the mainstream media would actually take Palin seriously and cover her in a responsible manner.

Well, I'm pleased to report that that day has finally arrived. Anyone interested in Sarah Palin's future, or in the 2012 Republican presidential race, ought to read Robert Draper's New York Times Magazine cover story this week. Draper did the unthinkable--he conducted on-the-record interviews with Palin and her team, rather than rely on anonymous quotes from Palin's enemies. The result is an excellent piece of reporting that treats Palin in a relatively sympathetic manner. The article delves into her decision to resign the governorship of Alaska in July 2009. It provides the best (though still incomplete) glimpse into Palin's team to appear in a mainstream publication since the 2008 campaign. It testifies to Palin's political cunning. It hints at Palin's future as a possible presidential candidate. Read it. You won't be disappointed.

Will Palin run for president? No one knows for sure—including, in all probability, Sarah and Todd Palin. What Draper's piece reveals is that, if Palin does run, she will campaign not only against the Obama Democrats but also against a Republican establishment that betrayed its principles and let down the country in the first decade of the 21st century. Fortunately for Palin, her sentiments jibe with widespread perceptions of the GOP. Quote:

I explained to Palin that in my view, at least, this line of inquiry wasn’t gratuitous — that questions did in fact linger about her “gravitas gap.” Didn’t she think, for example, that the Republican kingmakers who were now supposedly scheming to kneecap her were mainly just concerned about how voters viewed her? “If that were the case, then they need to be courageous enough to put their names behind their criticisms,” she said, referring to anonymous quotations attacking her. “As I replied to Politico, these fellows want to be trusted to tend to our nation’s economic woes? They want to be trusted to take on the likes of Ahmadinejad, but they won’t take on a hockey mom from Wasilla? Until they do that, I dismiss them.”

But, I reiterated, didn’t she believe that the Republican establishment’s predominant worry was that she would lose to Obama? “Then perhaps they should vent some of their paranoia toward all of the potential G.O.P. candidates,” she said. “Because obviously there’s no guarantee that any one of us would win. But I do believe that much of this is a threat to their hierarchy, because I’ve never shied away from a battle and because I’ll put principle before politics.”

In a sense, Palin views Beltway Republicans as she does the Obama administration: aloof, self-interested and vulnerable to the populist power that she believes she wields. “They’re in an isolated bubble — Barack Obama mentioned that in his press conference, and I agree with him, he is isolated from what average Americans are talking about,” she said, referring to the president’s words after the midterm elections. “But what he was meaning, of course, was that he’s not in touch with average Americans. I am — because that’s who I am. That’s who surrounds me, common-sense Americans who just want government on their side, not riding their backs. And I tweet to reach out to them.”

Palin sounds like a candidate in the Draper profile. Question is, do the other possible candidates know how to handle her? Does anyone?

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