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Jewish World Review
Nov. 30, 2009
/ 12 Kislev 5770
Sarah Palin: Going Rogue, Getting Even
Debra J. Saunders
"Going Rogue: An American Life" acquaints the reader with author Sarah
Palin's life and work before she was plucked from her Little House on
the Tundra to serve as John McCain's running mate and turned into a
Here you see the Alaska governor with the 90 percent approval rating,
who took on not only what became known as the GOP's "Corrupt Bastards
Club" but also Big Oil companies that were "just sitting on" their North
Slope leases when they should have been drilling.
The 2008 campaign coverage portrayed Palin as a rigid culture warrior.
Breaking with the stereotype, "Going Rogue" tells the story of a social
conservative who in 2006 vetoed a bill to ban the extension of benefits
to the same-sex partners of state employees because she thought it was
unconstitutional. Despite her aversion to tax increases, the pragmatic
Palin also championed a sales tax to fund Wasilla law enforcement.
Palin never addresses the frequent criticism thrown her way by
journalists who wondered if Palin possessed any intellectual curiosity
in light of her failure to get a passport until 2007. If she failed
to roam the Tuscan hills in her junior year abroad, at least thanks to
her teacher father, Sarah Heath grew up majoring in the exotic natural
world around her. She knew all about the state bird (ptarmigans), the
difference between glacial crevices and crevasses, as well as what
differentiates the grizzly from the brown bear. Dang.
To establish her literary credentials, Palin offers quotes from Blaise
Pascal and Pearl S. Buck. She was the reader of the Heath family.
Growing up, she recalls reading "The Pearl," "Animal Farm" and "Jonathan
Livingston Seagull" which probably had folks at the New York Review
of Books howling. And that's OK because Palin never aspires to be seen
as an intellectual not when she perkily observes, "Everything I ever
needed to know, I learned on the basketball court."
Of course, no Sarah Palin story would be complete without a media
pile-on and the virulently anti-Palin have been happy to oblige.
New York Times columnist Frank Rich whacked Palin for her "wide-eyed
infatuation with show-business celebrities" because Palin mentioned
talking to Bono and Warren Beatty on the phone. That's a choice hit,
considering how star-slobbering and celebrity-waving Democrats tend to
Rich also went after the Alaska governor for drafting a letter from G0d
to her family about Trig, the Down syndrome baby whom she was about to
deliver. Now, I understand that in some exalted circles, it is
fashionable to make fun of people's faith, even when a working mother of
four is bargaining with her God as she faces the daunting prospect of
bringing into the world a special needs child. So: Ha, ha, ha. Thanks
for the lesson in liberal compassion.
Newsweek didn't boost its credibility with its cover of Sarah Palin in
running shorts next to the headline: "How do you solve a problem like
The Associated Press assigned 11 reporters to "fact-check" the book. I
use quotes because the article ignores big issues in the book while it
selectively culls minutiae. For example, Palin writes that a Supreme
Court Exxon Valdez decision went "in favor of the people." The AP story
somehow ignores Palin's history in pushing for monetary damages for the
victims, but instead quotes Palin having once said she was
"disappointed" at the court's reduction in damages. The piece fails to
give Palin credit for taking a position that put the pro-drilling Palin
at odds with Big Oil in its trivial pursuit to bare a niggling
inconsistency. AP used a lot of people to tell readers nothing.
Much ink has been devoted to Palin's salvos against McCain campaign
gurus Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace, whom Palin blames for
over-handling her and underselling McCain. Schmidt told "Politico" that
Palin's book is "all fiction."
Palin wants readers to believe that she would have been a better running
mate if only McCain handlers had heeded a grassroots "Free Sarah"
campaign. The problem is: Palin's failure to own up to her knowledge
gaps on foreign policy she couldn't even answer a simple question
about bad Supreme Court decisions suggest that if freed to just be
herself, Palin may well have fallen flatter faster.
The book begins with an Arctic-centric map that shows "The View from the
Top of the World." It's a nice touch that shows how insignificant and
distant Washington looks from Wasilla.
While I appreciate Palin sharing the perspective, it would be nice if
she had taken on many of the perceptions some voters have developed of
her. There's no question that many in the media treated Palin and her
family poorly. That said, Palin herself blew the Katie Couric
interview, and not just because she appeared impatient. Palin herself
quit her job as Alaska governor, despite her obligation to state voters.
Palin herself seems happy to parade herself as the far right's favorite
victim, when a serious politician would be out trying to woo skeptics.
Sarah Palin has her shtick down. She's folksy and quotable. She has
delivered a book that will thrill a base that loves to shout, "They done
her wrong." Her true believers will see even measured criticism as
another assault on their gal. At the end of the book tour, she returns
to her now-familiar role of victim, a victim on the top of her world.
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