Sarah Palin is a unique politician. There are many reasons for this, but I want to focus for now on her background in local politics.
1. She's had to actually enforce policy that other politicians only write about.
Take the current energy code debate, for instance. Sarah Palin comes from an office where she would have had to play a role in implementing those policies. She understands the kind of time and money it takes to support that kind of red tape. She's been on the receiving end of alot of the rules, therefore she understands the implications of those rules when they are written. This gives her a unique perspective.
2. Her off-guard statements about the opposition.
I continue to be surprised when Sarah does not slam her opposition, and at times seems to even admire some pretty far-left liberals (Hillary Clinton). For someone who is obviously conservative, her not being overly partisan surprised me at first, but then I thought about where she came from.
Local politics is not so much bi-partisan, as it is non-partisan. There are idealogical differences, to be sure, but Sarah entered politics at a level where it's not so much about the red and the blue, but more about the good and the bad. Therefore she has the ability to chew the meat and spit out the bones in everybody, even Hillary Clinton.
3. She's had to be practical and pragmatic.
As a local politician, if the roads weren't paved, her constituents lived next door and they would let her know. She had to work with others to get things done, she couldn't just grandstand for media attention. In the process, she also learned when to compromise and when not to. She knows how to pick her battles.
4. Local gov is open and transparent government (unless you're from Chicago).
The open meetings, the town halls, and being face to face with her constituents taught her a politics that stemmed directly from the people and not from special interests. She's not used to back room dealing. She doesn't like back room dealing. She will do her best to stomp on back room dealing.
So, while Barack Obama may have scoffed about "tiny" Wasilla, a small-town Mayor stepping into the White House sounds like a pretty good idea to me.