How much do you really know about former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin? The revelations in Matthew Zencey’s account of her tenure will surprise you. Although Palin is widely seen as a conservative social ideologue, her political career in Alaska was marked by a progressive fiscal approach that is at odds with her current right-wing Republican identity. A self-described red-meat conservative, the partisan “pit bull with lipstick” had been a bipartisan, pragmatic, and surprisingly progressive governor who raised taxes on Big Oil and distributed oil revenue to every Alaskan. She also rankled her social-conservative supporters by vetoing an anti–gay rights measure and placing a pro-choice woman on the Alaskan Supreme Court. But her mishandling of accusations of ethics violations made her politically vulnerable at home, and her foray into the partisan brawling of national politics broke apart her bipartisan governing coalition in Alaska’s capital. After her failed 2008 bid for the vice presidency, Palin spent one more legislative session trying to run a big government state while maintaining her national stature as a small-government conservative, but it was politically untenable. With no hope of achieving any major political accomplishments, plus a growing strain on her family life, huge legal bills, and a large book advance in hand, she resigned. Zencey, an editor at the Anchorage Daily News during her tenure, shows how the Sarah Palin who was so popular in Alaska is starkly different from the Sarah Palin who is now so popular with the Tea Party.
Matthew Zencey is the former editorial page editor for the Anchorage Daily News, where he covered Alaska politics for twenty-one years and wrote numerous editorials on Sarah Palin’s performance as governor. He lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
“Matthew Zencey’s book is a balanced, carefully reported, and engaging look at Sarah Palin’s actions while governor of Alaska. Zencey comes to some surprising but well-substantiated conclusions. As one chapter asks, ‘This is the record of a Tea Party favorite?’”—Loretta Tofani, Pulitzer Prize–winning former reporter, Washington Post and Philadelphia Inquirer
“Veteran Alaska journalist Matthew Zencey explores Sarah Palin’s career as governor in the years before she rose to the national stage. Zencey is fair and judicious in describing Palin’s political values, how she governed, and the friends and enemies she created while in Juneau.”—Michael Carey, former editorial page editor, Anchorage Daily News
“Forget everything you think you know about Sarah Palin and start fresh. Matthew Zencey, a veteran Alaskan journalist, knew the real Palin before she was unleashed on America, and his breakthrough book chronicles the tragic trajectory of an admirably antiestablishment populist who succumbed to the simplistic allure of celebrity. Zencey has unearthed the nuanced truth behind the caricature.”—Dick Polman, national political columnist, Philadelphia Inquirer