We hear that she has very radical social views: no abortion even in cases of rape; book bannings; creationism in the classroom. I can see only two options: either she separates her personal views from what she wants to implement, or she was being very deceptive in her speech.
There are some indications to suggest the former. The previous governor vetoed pro-life legislation, but she signed it. She promised that as governor she would not promote the teaching of creationism, and stuck to her promise (none of her school official appointments are creationists). She vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (arguing that it was unconstitutional). This was all while a politician in a right wing state.
I'm still feeling that she deceived us. I'm used to people who hold those views wanting to impose them on everyone else. (Try to imagine an extremist anti-choice advocate who doesn't want to make abortion illegal.) I'm used to feeling that Republicans represent a base that does not include me. In the last 16 years I have seen the Republicans as a party that holds extremist views and that wants to control and harm people who don't agree with them. Either she's different (which would be wonderful) or she is conning us with sins of omission.
The problem is not just that she appeared seemingly out of nowhere. It's also that the so-called media vetting of her is no salacious and partisan that it's not credible. Here's hoping for some balanced, in-depth analysis of who Sarah Palin really is and what she stands for.
So much of the criticism has just been junk. She's criticized for exploiting her family by bringing them on stage, but every single national politician has done that, and as far as I know they have always done that. People are claiming that she supported the bridge to nowhere before she opposed it; but so what if she did the right thing in the end? She's dismissed for using a speech writer but they all use speech writers. And on and on. There are claims that she's an Alaskan secessionist when she obviously isn't; I read an interview with her in which she said Alaska was brought into the United States for its resources and so it was her duty as governor to provide them. The big problem with the junk criticism is that it diminishes the credibility of real criticism.
A microcosm of the problem exists in the viral email by Anne Kilkenny. (Just google the name to find it.) I did some checking and it appears to be legit in that it's not a hoax, but the tone is so relentlessly negative that it's difficult to believe.
Palin's environmental record is an area where I suspect the criticism misses the mark. She is criticized for questioning the cause of global warming, but she is one of the few governors who has done something about greenhouse gas emissions, signing a pact with BC on the issue. Her support for drilling in Alaska is about whether or not to preserve the pristine nature of a park, not the environment in terms of global issues. And most northerners understand that designating polar bears as endangered is a mistake: polar bears are being hurt by global warming, which can't be affected locally, but they're also unbelievably dangerous to humans, and people have to be able to protect themselves.
Amidst all the smears of her character and record, I fear that the real problem with Sarah Palin may be getting lost: what she will do in office about issues like abortion, creationism, sex education and the separation of church and state.
Update: It now appears that some of what was said about Sarah Palin's social views was incorrect. She did not ban any books, or try to. According to CNN, all she did was write a letter (when she was mayor) to the city librarian asking about the policy on banning books.