Courtesy of, often, unnamed “McCain aides,” “McCain friends,” and “persons familiar with,” Todd Purdum explores at length “the Sarah Palin phenomenon” for Vanity Fair. (And just about a year after Purdum’s lengthy exploration, courtesy of unnamed “former Clinton aides” and an unnamed “Clinton-watcher,” of, “What’s the matter with [Bill] Clinton?”)

Some samples from Purdum’s Palin piece:

Some top aides worried about [Palin’s] mental state: was it possible that she was experiencing postpartum depression? (Palin’s youngest son was less than six months old).

And:

Another aspect of the Palin phenomenon bears examination, even if the mere act of raising it invites intimations of sexism: she is by far the best-looking woman ever to rise to such heights in national politics, the first indisputably fertile female to dare to dance with the big dogs. This pheromonal reality has been a blessing and a curse. It has captivated people who would never have given someone with Palin’s record a second glance if Palin had looked like Susan Boyle. And it has made others reluctant to give her a second chance because she looks like a beauty queen.
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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.