Saturday, October 25, 2008

Little-Noticed College Student to Star Politician

This NYT article about Palin's youth is quite favorable -- she comes across well.  Unlike so many other politicians, it appears that she never had any political ambitions:

“I don’t think Sarah ever wanted to lead,” said Lori Ann Perrin, a friend from college. “She wanted to be a good girl and play by the rules, but she wasn’t someone who was trying to break new ground or argue about things or voice an opinion. In a way she was almost a wallflower type. I’m not sure what happened between then and now, but something must have.”

Her route to prominence was anything but mapped. She was never president of the college class, the social butterfly who collected everyone in the room, the academic scholar who others thought stood far above the rest. But buried beneath her cheery exterior, Ms. Palin also had a potent streak of competition and grit that would emerge as she pursued modest goals — the pageant, basketball, a television job and, finally, at 28, a campaign for the Wasilla City Council — that seemed to widen her sense of possibility.

Ms. Palin declined to be interviewed for this article, but even her closest relatives said they had no early inkling of this future.

“She didn’t talk about politics or getting into politics,” said her mother, Sally Heath, adding that her daughter back then was “never one to be in the limelight.”

Heather Bruce, Ms. Palin’s older sister, said they never really talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up. “Except maybe that, of course, we’re going to have kids,” she said, noting at another point, “There was nothing really in high school that I would have thought would have directed her into politics except that she was probably a good debater at home, you know?”


The Long Run

Little-Noticed College Student to Star Politician

Published: October 23, 2008

WASILLA, Alaska — For five years, Diane Osborne, a hairdresser, helped young women in this city as they vied for crowns in pageants, but the one she was sponsoring this time, in 1984, struck her as unlikely. Sarah Heath, at 20, was so soft-spoken, so unobtrusive, so agreeable as to seem void of the urgent quest for attention that Ms. Osborne had recognized in others.

“I kind of worried about how she would do up there on stage,” Ms. Osborne said. “You have to have a certain go-get-’em to get up there and stand up for yourself, and she came across as such a shy, sweet girl.”

As it turned out, Ms. Heath — now Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee — surprised Ms. Osborne, who waited nervously backstage in an Anchorage auditorium, by confidently answering questions from judges, circling in a red bathing suit, and capturing second runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant that June.

Many who knew Ms. Palin in her formative years have been likewise confounded by her journey from this isolated city, fewer than 10,000 people nestled in an Alaskan valley, to a national political stage. To them, the Sarah Palin who, at 44, bursts onto the stage at rallies — confident, feisty, piercing in her attacks — sounds nothing like the younger woman they recall.


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