Today I read Sarah Palin’s book
Last weekend I stopped by a book sale in Skaneateles, NY, where I came across something I’ve been meaning to read for a while: Palin’s “Going Rogue: An American Life.” I know I’m a few years behind on the subject, but I finally read the book and now I’d like to offer/rant my humble opinion.
Those who know me can attest to my distaste for the half-term governor-turned-catchphrase-generator. I would be willing to overlook the fact that she wears her small-mindedness as a badge of honor while subscribing to the Rush Limbaugh method of political discourse, if only she weren’t so unabashedly afraid of anything she doesn’t understand.
But I bought the book anyways (it cost about 20 cents). I’d like to say I did it to give the woman a fair shake. Honestly, however, I subscribe to Sun Tzu’s rules of engagement: know thy enemy. If I’m going to vocally dislike someone, I need a good reason why. And in 413 pages, Sarah gave me plenty.
Since stumbling wide-eyed into the national political arena, Ms. Palin has been leading a crusade against a well-informed public by lamenting the mainstream media and even combating reason with her own spot on Fox News. Why? Because a well-informed public has no use for someone who speaks only in hyperbole and fact-less generalizations (“Obama’s going to take your guns and invite in the terrorists!”) But while we as a nation may be getting fatter and stupider, many of us (thanks to the Internet) are far more informed than ever before. In “Going Rogue,” Palin repeatedly blames the media for torpedoing her 2008 campaign. And she’s right. The media informs the public. And when it comes to Palin, the less a voter knows, the better her odds.
“Going Rogue” displays Palin’s incredulous lack of self-awareness. She firmly believes that if everyone just got to know her, they would love her. And if someone doesn’t, it’s because he or she is an out-of-touch, politics-as-usual, corrupt liberal who just wants to see Palin fail. Hers is a complex typically reserved for pretty prom queens surrounded by frenemies (“They’re all just jealous of me!”) Palin and Kanye would get along great.
From the book’s onset, Palin proves completely oblivious to her own flaws. Rather than embrace and address her imperfections along with her triumphs, she whitewashes all her blunders as misunderstood achievements. Instead of providing a personal context for national events and news, she wraps her story in hokey PR. She would be better served following Gerald Ford’s example in “A Time to Heal” where, rather than make excuses for the Nixon pardon, he merely explains his reasoning behind it. Ford tries to sell his reader, but he tries to sell him the pardon, not Gerald Ford. Palin has no real agenda to sell other than the “Sarah Palin is a great lady” agenda.
What’s worse, however, are Palin’s half-hearted attempts to humanize herself by recognizing her own “flaws.” Those flaws? Her refusal to play ball with entrenched politicians, her love for small town America and–my favorite–the most haunting secret from her past: “I admitted, though, to the one skeleton I’d kept hidden in my closet for the past twenty-two years. It made me nervous and sick to my stomach, but I felt obligated to confess to that D in the college course 22 years before.” Groundbreaking stuff Sarah. Thanks for such visceral honesty.
The book’s primal sin, however, is that its title is a farce. “Going Rogue” is–in Palin’s mind–the story of a woman unafraid to balk at establishment and authorities. But she spends the majority of the book assigning blame to other people for the poor decisions she made during the 2008 presidential campaign. While discussing the notorious Katie Couric interview she says repeatedly, “I should have” done X or Y–most notably that she should have cancelled the interviews–but an adviser told her to continue, so she kept quiet and did them anyways. Just like a true maverick.
The book is about assigning blame to others for the disaster that was her vice presidential campaign. She never even entertains the notion that maybe “real Americans” just didn’t want to elect a podunk hockey mom and a racist dinosaur. Palin seems to believe that if the odds hadn’t been stacked against her by the “liberal media” and her sleazy campaign aide Steve Schmidt, she would have won the election in a landslide.
This is a woman who believes she–like America–can do no wrong. This is a woman who would never admit a mistake and can, therefore, never learn anything. This is a woman who was a serious contender for one of the highest offices in our land.
This is a woman who terrifies me.