After so many mainstream media reporters rushed to Alaska to dig for dirt on Sarah Palin, my colleague Charlotte Allen apparently figured she’d take a look for herself—and the result of her trip is a smashing story in the Weekly Standard.
Charlotte found that the people in Alaska are self-reliant—and that they like Sarah Palin. Quoting Camille Paglia’s famous encomium to the our modern Annie Oakley, Charlotte writes:
“Paglia’s comparison of Alaska to the frontier West is apt. Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Colorado, whose terrain resembles that of Alaska, were the first to enfranchise women. So is the comparison of Palin to Annie Oakley, the legendary female sharpshooter who could slice a playing card at the thin edge from 30 paces. Oakley, like Palin, was deeply religious and read the Bible daily. The self-confident, genially contemptuous song lyrics that Irving Berlin put into Oakley’s mouth–”Anything you can do, I can do better / I can do anything better than you”–as she went up against her male sharpshooter competitors in Annie Get Your Gun, the 1946 musical based on her life, might well apply to Palin’s bold forays into territories usually ruled by men, such as the Alaskan oil and gas commission.”
I loved Charlotte’s evocation of Wasilla (where Charlotte consumed moose stew, washed down with red wine):
“Typical news coverage of Wasilla, a 45-minute drive from Anchorage along the George Parks Highway, focused almost solely on what could be seen of the town while cruising at warp speed: gas stations, boarded-up strip malls from the 1970s, and the big-box stores that have clustered along the highway over the past decade thanks to property-tax reductions and infrastructure-investment during Palin’s two terms as mayor. Besides the Fred Meyer, there is a Wal-Mart superstore, which in East Coast journalistic eyes is the American equivalent for tastelessness of the gold-plated 300-acre palace the Emperor Nero built for himself after he burned down Rome, and the Mug-Shot Saloon, a gray-painted wood-frame roadhouse that appeared in almost every Wasilla story in media outlets ranging from New York magazine to the Guardian to Le Figaro. The Mug-Shot features a ‘Go, Sarah, We Love You!’ sign outside and barflies drinking their lunch inside. The news stories, slide shows, and video-clip voiceovers all seemed to express astonishment at the very existence of the Mug-Shot, as at Wasilla’s firearms vendors, its four-wheelers, and the copious quantities of gravel (the town sits on a terminal moraine where an Ice Age glacier came to rest after pushing its way between the Talkeetna Mountains northeast of Wasilla and the Chugach range to the southeast, leaving behind numerous lakes and thousands of tons of rocks of every size).”