Sarah Palin's Two Faces, Iron Fist And Growing Secrecy: Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair's Michael Joseph Gross is out with an extensive and unforgiving profile of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin that delves deeply into the untold intricacies of Alaska's biggest celebrity. With biting detail normally relegated to the pages of anti-Palin blogs, Gross paints a picture of Palin as a deeply religious, two-faced, larger-than-life figure known by many around her to be ill-tempered and perhaps even treacherous.

According to Gross's profile, which includes countless interviews with former Palin associates from those who weren't afraid to talk (many were), Palin has morphed from her public perception as a small-town hockey mom with conservative values into a ruthless media maestro who is both controlled by and controlling of those around her. An extensive network of handlers and a closely-watched digital empire dutifully work to manage her now-prominent "populist" message, while she herself attempts to be the master of potentially harmful stories that scorned associates could bring to light.

Sarah Palin appears almost consumed by her celebrity, Gross writes. She has forsaken many of her former Alaska supporters and even her confidantes and family, particularly her husband, Todd, who Gross reports has a notoriously strained relationship with the former Alaska governor and beauty queen.

Palin, whose codename is "North Star," Gross writes, often spends big. She's well-compensated for her speaking appearances, and her fees are often paid by shady and shifting organizations that pop up out of nowhere, and often disappear just as quickly.

Here are some interesting excerpts from Gross's piece, which is certainly worth checking out in full:

  • According to Gross, Palin is a notoriously poor tipper:

Of the many famous people who have stayed at the Hyatt in Wichita (Cher, Reba McEntire, Neil Young), Sarah Palin ranks as the all-time worst tipper: $5 for seven bags. But the bellhops had it good in Kansas, compared with the bellman at another midwestern hotel who waited up until past midnight for Palin and her entourage to check in--and then got no tip at all for 10 bags. He was stiffed again at checkout time. The same went for the maids who cleaned Palin's rooms in both places--no tip whatsoever.

  • Sarah Palin is known for her terrible temper, Gross writes, which has exploded into disputes with her husband and "First Dude," Todd:

One friend of the Palins' remembers an argument between Sarah and Todd: "They took all the canned goods out of the pantry, then proceeded to throw them at each other. By the time they got done, the stainless-steel fridge looked like it had got shot up with a shotgun. Todd said, 'I don't know why I even waste my time trying to get nice things for you if you're just going to ruin them.' " This friend adds, "As soon as she enters her property and the door closes, even the insects in that house cringe. She has a horrible temper, but she has gotten away with it because she is a pretty woman."

  • The uncooperative nature of Sarah Palin's vice presidential campaign team often bred enmity between her and running mate John McCain, Gross reports:

When John McCain decided to pull out of Michigan, a decision Palin disagreed with, Recher and Palin hatched a plan one day to make an early-morning drive to Michigan anyway. The Secret Service, becoming aware of the plan, asked the McCain campaign what it should do. The answer came: "Shoot out the tires."

  • The whole media fracas caused by Palin's image as a rough-and-tumble moose-hunting frontierswoman was largely fabricated, an acquaintance told Gross:

"This whole hunter thing, for Sarah? That is the biggest fallacy," says one longtime friend of the family. "That woman has never hunted. The picture of her with the caribou she says she shot? She got out of the R.V. to pose for a picture. She never helps with the fishing either. It's all a joke." The friend goes on to recall that when Greta Van Susteren came to the house to interview Palin "[Sarah] cooked moose chili and whatnot. Todd was calling everyone he knew the day before--'Do you got any moose?' Desperate."