Sarah Palin talks about Wasilla, Alaska, as if her hometown were an all-American idyll painted by Norman Rockwell, pulsing with “honesty and sincerity and dignity.” In reality, “it's an unexceptional, gritty town, bisected by a four-lane highway,” Amanda Coyne writes in Newsweek. “Along the road, used-car lots sit next to car-repair shops next to fast-food joints next to pawn shops.”
“There’s no center here,” agrees the city’s planner. “There’s no sense of identity.” It does have high property and violent-crime rates, and bars that stay open until 5 am. Its patrons would be openly carrying guns if Palin had her way as mayor. One Republican who fought losing battles to keep the town's historical sites lays some blame at Palin's feet, but most others revere her as a star: "She's one of us," they say, "she understands us."