By JOEL CONNELLY
A fellow scribe lately assigned to the Sarah Palin beat up north sent down the following joke: Question: What's the best view of Wasilla, Alaska? Answer: Out the rearview mirror.
The former governor and GOP vice presidential nominee grew out of the grassroots of Wasilla's paved-over strip malls. But Palin has outgrown all that and will be spending much of her time in the "lower 48."
Look for Palin to take frequent journeys to the bank before going on the road to the White House.
The public's attention span is short, so it is in Palin's self-interest to seek the gains that come with fame.
The governor's Fairbanks farewell speech last Sunday, with its warnings about big government and attacks on the media -- even a celebration of hunting -- was tailored to tastes of America's political right.
With her views, her looks and the celebrity of her 2008 vice presidential campaign, Palin can probably earn five-figure fees on the speechmaking circuit. She is working with a ghostwriter on a book. By resigning as governor, she does not have to file Alaska public-disclosure forms revealing the advance.
Of course, 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is already holding forth with a show on Fox News. Huckabee has impeccable credentials as a culture warrior. Still, the guy has a streak of personal decency plus thoughtful views on such issues as health care and corporate welfare.
What the far right wants is red meat, served up bloody red.
We have, this week, Fox News' race-baiter Glen Beck calling President Obama "a racist" and accusing Obama of having a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."
On CNN, Lou Dobbs has fanned the Birthers, challenging Obama to "provide the long-form birth certificate," and hinting -- without evidence -- that the certificate produced in last year's campaign is not "the real document."
As this column is written, CNN's "Larry King Live" is readying a lowbrow face-off: Judge Sonia Sotomayor's qualifications for the U.S. Supreme Court will be discussed by left-wing publicity hound the Rev. Al Sharpton and right-wing attention seeker Ann Coulter.
Sarah Palin would fit cable TV "commentary" like a glove, witness her 2008 speeches about Obama "palling around with terrorists." If caught wordless, she could always wink at the camera.
Doubtless, the former governor will undergo analysis by the elite media's two ranking psychobabblers, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times and Gail Sheehy of Vanity Fair. They've sucked every possible milligram of blood out of Hillary Clinton.
But such attacks will only strengthen Palin's credentials with the right-thinking faithful.
If you read responses to seattlepi.com articles, right-thinking Soundoff contributors love to use the word hypocrisy.
The issue does come up with Palin. She has served as governor of a state that, in 2008, received $508.34 per resident in federal earmarks -- highest in the nation --compared to $18.74 per capita in John McCain's Arizona.
As mayor of Wasilla, she hired a lobbyist to seek $27 million in earmarks for a town of 8,000. Palin was for the "bridge to nowhere" before she was against it. She resisted but then retreated on Alaska taking federal stimulus money, although holding out on dollars earmarked to weatherize homes for winter.
The enthusiasm of Palin faithful will not pale at past pork.
Just look at the crowd she drew to the April right-to-life dinner in Evansville. Watch the video of Republican National Chairman Michael Steele reduced to a warm-up act. Read the reactions afterward -- "Awesome!" "Amazing!" "Absolutely beautiful!" -- on the freerepublic.com Web site.
The neoconservative intellectuals of the Republican Party can write their critical columns, but they won't create any more doubters than Dowd and (if she chooses to play) Sheehy.
The right does the nominating in the Republican Party, and two early deciding states -- Iowa, with its caucuses, and South Carolina with its primary -- are strongholds of the Christian right.
As well, Palin -- for the moment -- is an honest-to-goodness national celebrity.
Alaska lawmakers attending last week's National Council of State Legislators' meeting were spotted wearing buttons saying, "I'm from Alaska. Please don't ask me about her." A Washington, D.C., airport newsstand, displaying the Time magazine with Palin on the cover, put out a sign reading "Only two copies per customer." "Starting this afternoon, she's someone else's story," the Anchorage Daily News' irreverent "Alaskan Ear" column opined last Sunday.
They'll miss her. Until this month, I never thought any Alaska governor could match Wally Hickel's famous declaration: "We can't just let nature run wild."
But that was before Sarah Palin intoned: "Only dead fish go with the flow."
Joel Connelly can be reached at 206-448-8160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.