Todd S. Purdum in Vanity Fair:
As Palin makes her way slowly across the crowded ballroom—dressed all in black; no red Naughty Monkey Double Dare pumps tonight—she is stopped every few inches by adoring fans. She passes the press pen, where at least eight television cameras and a passel of reporters and photographers are corralled, and spots a reporter for a local community newspaper getting ready to take a happy snap with his pocket camera. For a split second she stops, pauses, turns her head and shoulders just so, and smiles. She holds the pose until she’s sure the man has his shot and then moves on. A few minutes later, the evening’s nominal keynote speaker, the Republican Party’s national chairman, Michael Steele, who has been reduced to a footnote in the proceedings, introduces the special guest speaker as “the storm that is the honorable governor of the great state of Alaska, Sarah Palin!”
Just where that storm may be heading is one of the most intriguing issues in American politics today. Palin is at once the sexiest and the riskiest brand in the Republican Party. Her appeal to people in the party (and in the country) who share her convictions and resentments is profound. The fascination is viral, and global. Bill McAllister, until recently Palin’s statehouse spokesman, says that he has fielded (and declined) interview requests from France, England, Italy, Switzerland, Israel, Germany, Bulgaria, “and probably other countries I’ve forgotten about.” (Palin, keeping her distance from most domestic media as well, also declined to talk to V.F.). Whatever her political future, the emergence of Sarah Palin raises questions that will not soon go away.