COVER STORY The media scrum over the release of Sarah Palin's emails is satisfying both her supporters and her opponents, says Guy Adams
She has a temper. She hates the "lamestream media". When formulating policy, she likes to consult her husband and "first dude", Todd. She'll also talk important decisions over with God. And every now and then, you can expect her to issue folksy pronouncements such as "heck!" "you betcha!" or the newly-minted: "unflippinbelievable!"
It doesn't take much of a trawl through the 24,000 pages of Sarah Palin's emails, published on Friday, to get a sense of what makes America's foremost Mamma Grizzly tick. The former Governor of Alaska is ebullient, energetic, and occasionally hypocritical. She continually frets about her public image. When attacked, she asks staff to: "Pray for a mama's strength!"
The Palin Files, as they are already known, were turned over to a ravenous media pack in the State capital of Juneau at 9am on Friday (6pm GMT). Over the ensuing 24 hours, the six heavy boxes of A4 sheets were slowly uploaded to various internet databases. This morning, they are still being picked over by a mixture of professional reporters and interested members of the public, all of them hoping to stumble upon a bombshell revelation.
Supporters of Palin aren't quite sure what to think about this feeding frenzy. Some say the glee with which news organisations are sifting through reams of dull correspondence lays bare their hidden left-wing agenda. They are pouring disproportionate time into what amounts to a fishing trip. So far, they reckon this exercise in "gotcha" journalism is coming up pretty empty.
Other Palinophiles are more relaxed. In fact, they believe that the decision to release her communications, under Alaskan freedom of information laws, will improve her public image and add to the momentum growing behind her widely mooted (but still undeclared) presidential campaign.
"The emails detail a governor hard at work," said Tim Crawford, the treasurer of Palin's federal political action committee. "Everyone should read them."
In truth, plenty of useful nuggets of information have emerged during what Fox News has described as Palin's "media colonoscopy". Despite the heights to which she has risen up America's political ladder, important aspects of Palin's political identity have previously been kept under wraps. It now remains to be seen whether their emergence will be enough to change people's pre-conceived opinions of her
Until now, for example, we did not know the high regard in which Palin once privately held Barack Obama. Neither did we know that she has flip-flopped on climate change (a few years back, she accepted mainstream science on the issue). Or that, despite her public calls for cuts to government spending, she fought vigorously against reductions to her personal budget while in office.
Palin has recently criticised Obama's use of an autocue. She may have to stop doing that now. In one of the released emails, her aide, Meg Stapleton, tells Palin how she will "provide the answers" to questions being asked in a TV interview and display them on a teleprompter. "It needs to be very conversationally written," she said.
Palin, who is 47, replied by calling Stapleton "awesome", which appears to be her favourite term of endearment for staff. She often uses smiley faces in private correspondence, and her emails contain spelling and grammatical errors, some of which can be explained as the natural result of vigorous use of a BlackBerry.
We also have fresh insight into Palin's personality. She has in recent years made precious few unscripted public appearances (and many of them have ended in disaster). As a result, the public has been spoon-fed a carefully managed persona, which may not be entirely realistic.
The emails detail the strange, Nixon-esque obsession which Palin has had from the start of her career with her media profile. …