Sunday, May 23, 2010

For the Palins, Alaska is Still Home

Article in the New York Times. Yes, the NY Times, so take it with a shake of salt:

WASILLA, Alaska — Stepping quickly toward his big black Dodge Ram truck, Todd Palin offered a few highlights of the weekend ahead.

His youngest daughter, Piper, had a dance rehearsal. His oldest son, Track, would be helping out on the sprawling new addition to the family property on Lucile Lake. The toddlers, his son Trig and his grandson Tripp, would keep everyone on their feet. And his wife would be home for the weekend.

“Everybody,” said Mr. Palin, smiling, the late Alaska light washing over him. “All together.”

Sarah Palin’s big new life is remarkable for its smallness. She is as remote as she is overexposed. Even as she travels the country stirring up Tea Party apostles, poking at opponents and building a robust bank account through speaking fees, book royalties and television contracts, she comes home to one of the more unlikely launching pads in politics — and she apparently will not be pulling up stakes anytime soon.

“Where else would we go?” Mr. Palin said. “Alaska is our home.”

Things have changed, of course. Ms. Palin is often away, sometimes joined by her husband and some combination of their five children. Her father, Chuck Heath, who lives in town, said in a recent interview that he had not seen her in a month. While people say that Piper might turn up at Wasilla Bible Church with a cousin and that her parents attend community basketball games, sightings are far less frequent than they were when Ms. Palin was governor and friends from high school bumped into her at the Wal-Mart Supercenter.

But few people press.

“We don’t want her to feel like we want something from her,” said Adele Morgan, a longtime friend who said she had not seen Ms. Palin since public picnics the governor hosted as she left office last July...

“The world came to Wasilla,” said Janet Kincaid, a friend of Ms. Palin’s parents, “but Wasilla didn’t change. We’re still what we were.”

Not everyone sees it that way.

“Normal isn’t the same now as it was,” said Craig Pell, who works at Chimo. “Wasilla kind of lost its innocence.”

People who once shared intimate details about the Palins have long since learned to be quiet. Some grumble privately about how the governor they voted for resigned and appears to have become a multimillionaire in short order.

Lyda Green, a former State Senate president from Wasilla and a reliable Palin critic, said: “I don’t hear a lot of favorable comment. I don’t usually bring it up.”

[Ha! That's a laugh. FYI, Lyda and Sarah have been foes practically since they were born.]

Ms. Palin’s inner circle has contracted in recent months, with some of her closest longtime Alaska aides — including Meghan Stapleton, a spokeswoman, and Ivy Frye, who helped research her book, “Going Rogue” — departing. Rumors of family discord still rumble across the Internet. Reports have tried to pin down Ms. Palin’s accumulation of wealth ($12 million?) since she resigned as governor. Yet virtually no one who might know the truth appears willing to talk publicly. Family members are certainly wary.

“Are you the guy who’s been writing all that crap about us?” Mr. Palin barked at an approaching reporter.

A few moments later, less testy, he seemed amused at the soap opera of it all, grinning, eyes wide, as he feigned curiosity. “Have you talked to Levi?” He lingered on the long vowels in the first name of Levi Johnston, his grandson’s father, whose relations with the family have been strained.

Even the most concrete new development in the Palin family, an enormous structure rising beside their existing 3,400-square-foot house on Lucile Lake, is something of a mystery. Based on the limited evidence in the planning department at Wasilla City Hall (the city does not require building permits), the building’s footprint alone is 6,000 square feet, but much of it is two stories. Various sources have said the project includes a television studio (Fox News, Mr. Heath said), apartments for Mr. Palin or the Palins’ older children (Bristol Palin, 19, has said, however, that she is living on her own with Tripp and paying her own bills with the help of handsome speaking fees) and a well-appointed office for Ms. Palin.

Bloggers have speculated that the big double garage doors will allow clearance for Mr. Palin’s Piper Cub airplane and maybe his snowmobiles. Mr. Palin said the space was a “big shop for Trig and Tripp to play in, and for Piper.”

The project is all but done, he said, “just got the trim and the siding to do.”

The family footprint is also expanding in politics. Just after his wife had been on Facebook explaining to unhappy Tea Party supporters why she endorsed Carly Fiorina in her race for United States senator from California, Mr. Palin attended a fund-raiser in Wasilla for Joe Miller, an obscure but ardent conservative who is making a long-shot bid for the seat held by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a Republican with whom Ms. Palin has had differences.

“Joe’s got a fire in his belly to serve,” Mr. Palin said. “It’s all about competition and giving Alaskans a choice...”

Mr. Palin, leaving the fund-raiser for Mr. Miller, said as much. “These midterm elections are very important to her,” he said of his wife. “That’s what she’s focused on right now. Life’s about opportunities and experiences, and what you do with those.”

He got in his truck, dusty on the outside, tidy on the inside. The engine roared. He had just been out in Dillingham, on Bristol Bay, for his aunt’s funeral. He was looking forward to going back soon, to fish for salmon at his family site. He no longer works in oil production on the North Slope.

“We’ll be up here most of the summer,” he said. “That’s important to her, for the kids to be here. Track’s looking forward to going fishing.”

Camera crews will also be up, filming Ms. Palin for a series about Alaska.

Mr. Palin started to pull away, then he stopped and leaned toward the window. He emphasized that he did not want to be misrepresented by a reporter.

“What goes around comes around,” he said, still smiling.

Soon he would head down the 900-foot gravel drive to the property on Lucile Lake. He would pass the “No Trespassing” signs nailed into the birches and evergreens and then he would pass a new automatic metal gate, unoperational for now.

“It’ll be powered up soon,” he said.


hrh said...

"She is as remote as she is overexposed." ??? No bias there.

"Lucile Lake."

I thought it was Lake Lucille?

Anonymous said...

NYT just cannot let go of it's hate filled jihad against Gov. Palin.

Palin was balancing budgets, taking on the corrupt bastards club and cleaning up the back room deals b/w politics and big oil in Alaska long before you learned how to spell Wasilla...

So now, you're going to begrude finanical success...seems to me you could use a couple of bucks in your own account.

What lazy journalism - seeking out the 'seething with jealousy' Alaskan State Senator chick for her nasty comment of the week against Gov. Palin.

You guys just can't get over the fact that Palin's message resonates with the REAL Americans...

I hope Palin builds herself one helluva state of the art media room so that she can spend more time with her family.

What is it about Freedom that the NYT detests so much? ... or is the real question - how is it that NYT doesn't cherish the very Liberty that allows them to spew their biased B.S.?

Go Sarah Go!