Saturday, January 2, 2010

Book Review: Going Rogue by Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin. Many people like her immensely. Many people can't stand her. Many people think she would make a better president than any other major-party candidate in 2012. Many people think Curious George would do better.


If you delineate the border between Palin-lovers and Palin-haters, you understand much about American politics. They love her here in Middle America. To blue-collar Republicans, she talks sense in a way they don't often hear from politicians. But to educated east-coast Democrats, she is the anti-christ. She is everything wrong with populist politics. They look at Sarah Palin and see a menace to society.

Why is she so polarizing? Much of it, I believe, is due to the media. The media has done much to tarnish Sarah Palin's reputation. This could be good and it could be bad. If Palin were Rod Blagojevich, we certainly would want her tarnished so that she would never show her face in the public square again. If, however, she were Ronald Reagan, we would not want her tarnished.

So which is she? Sarah Palin's 2.5 year stint as Governor of Alaska was, in the beginning, wildly successful. As Alaskan Dewey Whetsell explains, everything she did worked and she did everything with high approval ratings and bipartisan support. (This is included at the end of Palin's book.)

But then, at the Alaska State Fair, in August 2008, Palin got a call from a man named John McCain, who was running for president. Would Sarah like to be a vice-presidential candidate? Yes, Sarah would. Depending on Palin's political future, she may one day rue that decision.

Suddenly, this cute, folksy mother of five catapulted onto the national stage. The Media, who had already crowned King Barack, were stunned. How dare this bumpkin stick her nose in? "Concerns" and "questions" arose. When frivolous ethics charges surfaced against Palin (like wearing an Arctic Cat jacket and talking to reporters in a hallway--apparently taboo on the Loony Left), these were trumpeted for all to hear.

Fast forward almost a year. The campaign is over, McCain-Palin soundly defeated. Palin calls a press conference and resigns the governorship. Once again, the country is stunned. Was it an admission of guilt? Was there another shoe about to drop? Had the pressure gotten to her? Was she dropping out to plan her presidential run? Or was she, as she said, unable to afford the legal bill for those ethics charges and left the public sector to make some money? No other shoe dropped and she appears sane, so it must have been the latter two.

I'm not talking about the book, am I? Well, that's because to understand Sarah Palin's book, one must understand Sarah Palin. And that's something that many people fail to do.

The writing is average. Palin charms sometimes, but at other times I wish she would stick with grammatical and verbal convention. Every cutesy word she makes up detracts from the seriousness of the work. Her life certainly has been busy, and fulfilling.

It's interesting that, until she reached the national stage, everyone liked her. Sarah could do no wrong on the Wasilla City Council, as mayor, on the various commissions she served on, and finally as governor. So she was a good pick for John McCain.

Her political beliefs are very, very right-wing. She is hardcore, man. But she makes it work. Without animosity, and without bias, she perfectly rode the line between big business and big government as governor.

God is on every page of Going Rogue. She invokes Him and His plan constantly. This could be real or it could be artificial--who am I to judge? But it's nice to see it in a book written by a popular politician.

Her family life is concerning. She has five kids and a largely absentee husband (work). But she still found time to govern the largest state of the union. That raises questions about her priorities. Would a truly devoted mother take on this more-than-full-time job? Part of me wonders how well her kids have been brought up. Bristol Palin's teenage pregnancy makes me wonder as well. Palin does not, in the book, chastise Bristol at all, nor does she admit any failings as a parent, or any failings at all.

Her TV appearances during the campaign were awful. Frankly, just terrible. This only increased the Media's dislike, and Tina Fey's SNL parody skewed many people's views still further. It was so accurate and so devastating.

After the campaign, though, she cleaned up her act. In Going Rogue she raises serious questions about her handling by the McCain camp, and indeed, as she tells it, it was wildly mismanaged. But the campaign itself was basically imploding before the election, and aides were fighting over the pieces.

Now, Sarah Palin lost to Hilary Clinton by one percentage point in a poll of Most Admired Women, beating such notables as the Queen and Oprah. For a politician whom I had never heard of in June 2008, that's quite an accomplishment.

Sarah Palin remains an enigma. My own view of her has skewed wildly, from love to serious distaste and back to cautious optimism. Go for it, Sarah, but just prove that you are who you say you are. Whatever else Sarah Palin does, she is not going to die quietly. Her book has already past up Barack Obama's and Bill Clinton's bestsellers. Maybe she will do the same for the American electorate.



13 Comments:

cow said...

Hey Mos,

I greatly enjoyed your post. I have been wondering about "Going Rogue." It sounds interesting. I also liked how you told us a little about her life.

Nice job,

~Liz

lizz said...

Hooray, I was able to change my screen name!

Susan said...

I was actually thinking of reading the book too. At the moment I don't really know what to think of Sarah Palin. I don't really like the idea of female politicians.

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