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For the longest time, Sarah Palin was leery of Facebook. Some of the comments left on her page during the 2008 vice-presidential campaign were so withering and unpleasant that it took months of coaxing by her staff and her daughters Bristol and Willow to convince Palin that she should give it another try. So she waded back into the digital fray just after she resigned the Alaska governorship and as her aides were compiling a new press list. Her first Facebook post, in August 2009, accused the Obama White House of creating "death panels" as part of health care reform.
That offhand remark, as inaccurate as it was incendiary  (It was 100% dead-on correct), helped incite weeks of embarrassing town-hall meetings for Democrats, which in turn nearly brought down the Administration's top priority. Palin, working at the time in San Diego on her first book, was surprised by her post's galvanizing power. With just a few keystrokes, she discovered, she could ruin White House press secretary Robert Gibbs' day, or as she puts it, "I find it a great way to communicate with people directly without the media filter." […]
Inside Sarahland
The golfing dig at Obama is exactly the kind of barb that has delighted Palin's fans and infuriated her detractors from her first moments on the national stage more than two years ago. She has a sixth sense for her opponents' weak spots — a useful tool in politics but perhaps an even more valuable one when considering life as a permanent pundit. She doesn't act like a candidate: she hasn't kissed the rings of GOP leaders in Washington, hasn't hired pollsters and Svengalis or made a habit of spending her weekends in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. GOP veterans say she may be the first Republican hopeful in a generation who doesn't need to bother with these prerequisites. She does have a growing staff with roots in the conservative wing of the party. But one clue to the Mystery of Sarah is that her circle of aides looks less like a campaign in the making than a quirky family business in which Palin is the chief product.
At the center of the enterprise is her husband Todd, 46 — part Mr. Mom, part manager, part consort. As she writes in America by Heart, "He has been a partner to me in every conceivable way — in life, in love, and in doing battle with the New York Times." (When asked about divorce rumors in the summer of 2009, Palin gasped, "Have you seen Todd?") In the past few years, Todd quit his job on Alaska's North Slope as a production operator for BP, began handing the family's modest commercial-fishing business to the couple's 21-year-old son Track and became CEO of Sarah Inc., functioning as chief of staff, top adviser, lead scheduler and family enforcer. The Palins still drop everything, though, for his annual participation in the Iron Dog snow-machine race.  […]
But Palin thinks Obama is vulnerable, and she implies that she is the one to take him on. "In battleground states, he's polling at 40% or below," she notes. "The country is rejecting his agenda ... My vision of America is diametrically opposed to his. He sees America as the problem. I see America as the solution." Asked what she makes of Obama's presidency thus far, Palin quipped, "Two words: Jimmy Carter." Asked who can beat him, she needed seven more: "Someone who can draw a sharp contrast."
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