JUNEAU, Alaska In the three years since Sarah Palin stormed the national political stage, her brief tenure as governor of Alaska has often been reduced to caricature. Critics cast her as petty, preoccupied and disengaged. Supporters say she was a maverick reformer, a salt-of-the-earth true believer who bucked the establishment elite Yet what is clear in the 24,000 pages of her e-mails released Friday completing Ms. Palins transformation from one of the most obscure politicians in America to one of the most scrutinized is that her governing style was not necessarily an either-or proposition. Sometimes she seemed to be everything all at once.
She sought to be an encouraging leader one moment, lauding her team for a breakthrough on oil production: You guys are doing awesome. She could be distrustful and accusatory the next: I cant handle staffer leaks. She would focus on the progress of substantive legislation, including supporting a major increase in oil taxes, but then become distracted by un-flippin believable criticism directed at her by a popular radio host.
Winning the governorship here as a what-you-see-is-what-you-get hockey mom from Wasilla, she won fans for her promises to break with politics as usual. But, the e-mails show, she nonetheless went on to rely on standard statehouse fare like ghost-written Op-Eds and supportive letters to the editor, even prodding staff to flood online opinion polls to influence results. She was also, in the years before her national emergence, more open to compromise and political dealing than her more recent image suggests.
The release of Ms. Palins e-mails add nuance and depth to the portrait of a major political figure and possible Republican presidential candidate who is almost frozen in the perceptions of many of her supporters and her critics.
The e-mails contain some embarrassing exchanges that would make any working person reliant on the technology wince, but her aides could also point to what they said were examples of an active chief executive.
This surreal colonoscopy by the cartoonish mainstream media is backfiring, said the supportive Conservatives4Palin Web site, co-founded by a close aide. The e-mails, it said, show a serious and highly effective executive who was in full control of her administration.
Still, nearly 8,000 pages were either withheld or redacted, sometimes heavily, in a process that began 10 months before Ms. Palin left office when the news media first began requesting them and continued under the direction of two former close aides who now work for her successor, including her chief of staff, Mike Nizich.
And in some cases, the documents show Ms. Palin defending herself vigorously against attacks something she has said her handlers on the McCain campaign kept her from doing.
Perhaps the biggest scar on the governors tenure was the scandal known as Troopergate, which involved accusations that her administration improperly pressured the states top law enforcement official at the time, Walt Monegan, to fire a trooper, Mike Wooten, who had been in an ugly divorce with Ms. Palins sister. The governor later fired Mr. Monegan.
Even as one investigation found fault with Ms. Palins action in the case, she repeatedly insisted publicly that she had done nothing wrong. The e-mails show that she was even more emphatic in private exchanges with her closest staff.
He can try to deflect from the reasons he was let go by blaming it on the Wooten issue, but he knows its not true and perhaps he doesnt want a public discussion about his administrative skills being made public, Ms. Palin wrote in July 2008 to several staff members from her Yahoo account.
In another note, she added, Help me get the truth out about Walts stirred-up controversy.
In still another e-mail, to her deputy press secretary, Ms. Palin attacked a string of what she said were false claims her former brother-in-law had made about her misusing a moose-hunting permit to deflect from her familys accusations that he had illegally killed a moose. Wooten has NEVER hunted with me, Ms. Palin wrote, and except for his illegal moose hunt in question he has never hunted moose or caribou with my family.While e-mails like these might fuel critics who question her policy acumen, others show Ms. Palin clearly engaged in lawmaking. She paid close attention to the legislative progress of what had been the top item on her 2006 campaign agenda, a plan for developing a natural gas pipeline.
Even CP has admitted locking up tax rates for 30 years as Glenn suggests is unacceptable to the legislature, the Alaskan public, this administration and the Constitution, she wrote, referring to the oil company Conoco Phillips. They dont even ask for a 30 year lock-up. He said that the campaign didnt have a problem with that fiscal certainty Huh And that he was the gas line consultant to the campaign Huh
Ms. Palins regular combativeness could come across as pointless or noble. When she learned that Ben Stevens, the son of former Senator Ted Stevens and a former state Senate president, was still the states national Republican committeeman, Ms. Palin decided to call for his resignation. Ben Stevens was embroiled in a corruption investigation and Ms. Palin had built her statewide reputation, and her successful campaign for governor, on challenging Republican leaders she said were corrupt.
It is time to call for Bens ouster from that position, Ms. Palin wrote to Frank Bailey, a former close aide with whom she has since split. A short comment on this is long overdue, and now that Bens been named as one who was bribed its irresponsible of me NOT to call for him to step down. (Ben Stevens was not indicted.)
Her fights could take her to odd places that even she sometimes found humorous.
In March 2008, Ms. Palin seemed to enjoy telling Sharon Leighow, a press aide, that her office had received a Security Report Reprimand after her daughter Willow had sneaked their dog into the Capitol building.
It came from Cowdery! Ms. Palin wrote, referring to Senator John Cowdery, a Republican from Anchorage who had been caught up in the same scandal as Ben Stevens. She used an abbreviation for the Corrupt Bastards Club, the nickname some lawmakers had given themselves.
Cowdery telling a kid whats acceptable and what isnt inside these four walls Puleeeze. A three-pound puppy vs. all the CBC crap that he helped dump around here
Ms. Palin considered trying to use the episode to her political advantage by passing it on to an Anchorage gossip columnist, but she decided against doing so.
I dont want to request the official report because according to it, Willow had a flippant response like So
Thats my girl! she said, before adding, Nah ... but I dont want that part advertised.