Sarah Barracuda

There's a fascinating piece in GQ today about strife within the McCain campaign over the handling of Sarah Palin. I knew next to nothing about Palin before I set out to write my book which was just released last week, Sarah Barracuda: The Rise of Sarah Palin.

It all started for me when I emailed my literary agent and asked him what he thought about a book on Palin. That was in early September. What I learned in the ensuing weeks of researching Palin is that she is no dummy, but a smart, tough, political operator who will turn on friends, patrons and relatives on a dime if she feels they're corrupt or disagrees with them. Fans might call that principled while enemies would likely call it opportunistic.

My favorite story along these lines was the time her mother-in-law, a Democrat, ran for Mayor of Wasilla to succeed Palin, only to find her daughter-in-law oppose her.

I think the book will be like a Rorschach Test: if you dislike Palin you'll probably find more reasons to dislike her. If you're a fan, you may grow to be more of one.

I wrote the bulk of it before the strange Couric interview which I admit to being baffled by. Although my attempts to interview her were unsuccessful, the Palin I encountered in my research seemed miles away from the woman who seemed unable to answer basic questions like which newspapers she read, or her seeming inability to answer certain questions at the debate with Biden. My only thought is that perhaps she's been overhandled and at least for a time, lost her confidence.

The GQ piece seems to confirm the overhandling part. When she was asked what publications she read my guess is, mindful of her handlers' advice, she played scenarios out in her mind: "If I say Glamour, they'll think I'm shallow. If I saw the Washington Times they'll think I'm right-wing. If I say Anchorage Daily News they'll think I'm a hick." etc. So she punted and looked foolish.

As I've written elsewhere, Palin is an unconventional politician and needs to be allowed to be herself, whatever that may be. I think she's right in dismissing the handlers and going native. She may make a fool of herself, but it can't be worse than the last two months and she owes voters the chance to see her sans the handlers.