Earlier today, First Lady Laura Bush urged us to remember Gov. Sarah Palin's record as mayor of her hometown from 1996-2002 when assessing her experience. I agree.
Driving around this city today, I decided it looks more or less like a string of strip malls, 45 minutes northeast of Anchorage. I couldn't help but think that being mayor of a place like this would be something akin to running a large neighborhood watch.
The main highway that runs through town is lined with new big-box stores, including a Target and a Wal-Mart. A handful of fast-food chains as well as some local restaurants also sprinkle the main drag. Breathtaking mountains, the peaks still lightly dusted with snow, create a striking backdrop. Despite the chain stores, this small city feels distant from the rest of the world. I'd have guessed Palin would have run the city with a "we're in this together" theme.
It turns out she had a somewhat different approach. If a small-town mayor ever ruled with an iron fist -- it was Palin. Eleven days after taking office in 1996, she mailed letters to each of the city's top managers requesting that they resign as a test of loyalty.