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How the Army solved a problem like Sarah

Fort Bragg reversed its no-media policy for Sarah Palin's book signing event on Monday, confirming that the best-selling Alaska author is a ‘politician,’ but not an ‘elected official’

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Sarah Palin on her "Going Rogue" book tour in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Rex Larsen/AP

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Military regulations are strict: Respect the commander-in-chief.

But given that some popularity polls have former vice presidential candidate -- and ardent Obama critic -- Sarah Palin nearly parallel with President Obama’s approval ratings, the Army faced a real conundrum when deciding how to deal with Ms. Palin’s on-base book signing scheduled for Monday at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The book, “Going Rogue,” describes Palin’s rise from hockey mom to governor of Alaska, to widely attacked (but also hugely popular) vice presidential candidate, whose independent streak caused the John McCain presidential campaign to opine that she was “going rogue.”

Fearful of a grandstanding political event -- and citing military regulations that prohibit public criticism of the commander-in-chief on base -- Fort Bragg brass first banned the media from an otherwise public event.

Facing pushback from the Associated Press and the Fayetteville Observer, the Army eventually pulled back, saying it would allow “limited” media access. Friday night, the Army threw up its beret in exasperation and decided to allow the whole dad gum national press gaggle to come down if they want to.

But Fort Bragg’s head-scratching over how to treat -- and define -- Ms. Palin goes to the heart of Newsweek’s cover story question: “How do you solve a problem like Sarah?” To solve a problem, you have to first define it. And as the Army found out, Palin, at least for now, is a political enigma.

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