Anchorage after Palin

by Dave Weigel

ANCHORAGE - In the words of one of the great mid-1990s indie movie characters: I wasn't even supposed to be here today. Alaska Airlines gave me what I thought was an obscenely good deal to visit the Aleutian Islands -- a plane left Washington, D.C. at 8 a.m. Sunday, and a third plane would get me to Dutch Harbor, AK by 10:30 p.m. eastern time. Important information was not known to me when I booked this. Dutch Harbor flights are canceled all the time. The landing strip down there is described by locals as some cross between the Isle of Sirens and Endor, and it's so dangerous that low fog, like the kind they had yesterday, spurs airlines to consider the mortality of its passengers and cancel its flights.

So I accidentally wound up in Alaska's metropolis; happily, some local journalists decided to show me around and dull the disappointment. The ringleader was Shannyn Moore, a left-leaning radio host (Sorry, Republicans. You should have tweeted me.) who regaled me with stories of her car being splattered with red paint and damaged around the windows after Sarah Palin stopped being an easy-to-approach local politician and started being a global celebrity whose supporters responded... proactively to criticism.

I see why local pundits and reporters reacted the way they did to Palin's turn. In a very short amount of time, jet-lagged, I visited one local restaurant -- the Bear Tooth Grill -- and ran into State Sen. Hollis French, reporters for local TV and the Anchorage Daily News, and the main blogger behind Mudflats. This was a left-leaning crowd, and I didn't talk politics on the record with French, but there was plenty of confusion and amusement about how the media in the lower 48 covers Palin. (One documentary filmmaker at the restaurant downloaded Ken Vogel's scoop about Palin's new PAC and wondered what to make of the $2500 and $5000 donations to candidates versus the money spent on other promotion of Palin.) This was Anchorage, not her home base in the Wasilla, but there's no Palin merchandise on sale on gift shops, and little discussion of Palin's role in Alaska politics. As far as the left-leaning Alaska media's concerned, the political press corps is being snowed by someone who disappointed the state. But that is the view of the left, and if I can make it back here -- or get stuck here -- I want to see what the other half thinks.