Toby Harnden is the Daily Telegraph's US Editor, based in Washington DC. Click here for Toby's website. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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American Way: Sarah Palin email frenzy backfires on her media antagonists
By Toby Harnden World Last updated: June 11th, 2011
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Reporters load boxes of Sarah Palin's emails
The trove of more than 13,000 emails detailing almost every aspect of Sarah Palin’s governorship of Alaska, released late on Friday, paints a picture of her as an idealistic, conscientious, humorous and humane woman slightly bemused by the world of politics.
One can only assume that the Left-leaning editors who dispatched teams of reporters to remote Juneau, the Alaskan capital, to pore over the emails in the hope of digging up a scandal are now viewing the result as a rather poor return on their considerable investment.
If anything, Mrs Palin seems likely to emerge from the scrutiny of the 24,000 pages, contained in six boxes and weighing 275 pounds, with her reputation considerably enhanced. As a blogger at Powerline noted, the whole saga might come to be viewed as “an embarrassment for legacy media”.
Mrs Palin, who suddenly resigned as Alaska governor in July 2009, is no longer a public official. She holds no position in the Republican party. Despite the media hubbub that surrounds her every move, she is unlikely to be a candidate for the White House in 2012.
She is, however, viewed with a kind of horrified fascination by many in the media, who faithfully records everything she says and does while at the same time decrying her as ignorant and even evil.
Whether or not she runs for the White House – and the solid consensus among Republican leaders is that she won’t – the scramble over the Palin emails confirms her status as a pivotal figure in the race to challenge President Barack Obama next year.
It comes at a moment when the battle for the Republican nomination appears set to be transformed by the late entry of Governor Rick Perry of Texas, a social conservative and Palin ally who could almost immediately leap to the front of a currently lacklustre field.
Sources close to Mr Perry have confirmed that he is “highly likely” to announce a presidential run in the coming days. Intriguingly, they have also hinted at a something they believe would increase immeasurably Mr Perry’s chances of winning the White House – an endorsement from Mrs Palin.
On policy, Mrs Palin and Mr Perry, who succeeded George W Bush in 2000 and has since become the longest-serving governor in Texas history, are in almost perfect alignment. In addition, they are both beloved of the Tea Party, highly suspicious of Washington and physically attractive (Mr Perry is often likened to the Marlboro Man), charismatic figures.
Mrs Palin has repeatedly said that she believes Mr Obama can be defeated and that she will do everything to achieve that. With her popularity among independent voters very low, despite the intensity of her core support, throwing her weight behind a stronger candidate would be a better way of preserving her political capital and earning power than