Saturday, May 8, 2010

"Going Rogue" by Sarah Palin

Just finished reading all 412 pages of Sarah Palin's memoir, "Going Rogue". Palin's dedicated nearly 1/2 off the book to her campaign as Vice-President and resignation as Governor of Alaska, and so clearly it is a response to these much hyped about events. Additionally, she spends a good deal of the book discussing her personal life and political strategy and perspectives.

In "Going Rogue", Palin developed and communicated her political persona of "folksy, wholesome, common-sense Alaskan" to the point of exaggeration. My fave quote comes from an anecdote during her teenage years; "Just because dad steered me away from an early crush doesn't mean that he couldn't appreciate I had a softer side. Early one morning when I was a teenager he and I went hunting before school." She has also included many family photos; one of her salmon fishing with her husband, Todd, on Bristol Bay and another where she is hunting with a Native Alaskan; she's wearing a red bandanna and has one foot atop a caribou she's just shot.

Her successful campaign for Governor of Alaska in 2006 was 'highly grassroots' and the media campaign the 'essence of simplicity'. She is pro-Reagen throughout the book, and says that the GOP has "gambled away the progress of the Reagen years." She ends the book with her own political philosophies..."imagine how much stronger our economy would be if all those billions of dollars we spend overseas (on oil) were spent in the US", and "after decades of failed social policies and weak national security position, the (Democratic) party doesn't have a strong base from which to win political arguments".

I found that some of SP's political ideologies are so influenced by Alaskan culture that they sound almost insular when applied to the lower 48. For example, Palin dismisses gun control as "asinine" on the grounds that Alaskans need guns to control predators and to hunt for food. However, in cities like L.A. or Washington DC people won't purchase guns so that they can protect themselves from bears or to kill caribou, and so gun ownership in a metropolitan setting has entirely different implications. It is unclear from reading the book if she recognizes this disparity.

At the same time, she seems principled, or in any event doesn't pay lip service to the causes she supports. For example, her decisions to give birth to a down-syndrome baby while Governor and to support her pregnant teenage daughter demonstrate a radical personal commitment to the pro-life movement she so often professes. Aborting her son would have greatly simplified her busy schedule as Governor--and Palin herself points out that over 90% of down-syndrome babies are aborted. Her daughter's pregnancy clearly has provided fodder to tabloids and may have damaged her campaign for VP.

I was surprised, in reading about her bid as VP, that member's of McCain's campaign actually turned on her toward the end; Steve Schmidt, the senior campaign strategist, told another staff member that "if there were any more leaks (to press) critical of anybody in the handling of Sarah Palin, then a lot more negative stuff would be said (by McCain's campaign) about SP." And at one moment of desperation, Schmidt actually wanted to fly in a nutritionist as a means to bring her approval up in the polls! Bizairro.

Since she is pro-Reagan, Palin may be utilizing his strategy that "all press is good press"--since clearly the blood bath she receives daily from the likes of Howard Stern and "The New Yorker" writers--as well as the fodder her ex-almost-son-in-law has provided to tabloids and trash TV--has garnered her widespread name recognition at no financial cost to herself. And I think that even though Katie Couric decimated Sarah Palin in the short-term, this dismissal by media elite may have helped to entrench Palin's appeal to working class conservatives.

It was unclear whether her resignation as governor was a political strategy, but it was clear that she was essentially saying "this is bullshit" to many frivolous ethical complaints that were being filed against her. Clearly, then, this woman isn't messing around, and she possess a kind of rash fearlessness.

She makes political attacks in the book, calling John Kerry an "elitist loon" and says that she still can't believe the comment Michelle Obama made about 'finally being proud of her country', and so I think that it is fair-game to say she sees her book as a means to further her political career. And, given her mass appeal--drawing fans of 50-60K during her campaign as VP--and twenty-some years of executive experience in public service it seems conceivable that this career may be successful.

Since she is SOOOOO pro-Alaska, perhaps she will in time run for Senate and work to harness the many natural resources this state provides. Although many speculate that she will run for President in 2012, she never says anything of the sort in her book. It seems unlikely as well that she could successfully obtain the GOP Nomination for President since she is currently out-of-office, and all VP and Presidential candidates in recent history have been in office at the time of their nomination.

But who knows what she will ultimately do. We're dealing with a rash and unpredictable woman here. And fortunately for us, the viewers, the role we get to play as the Sarah Palin drama unfolds is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Since Palin, like we have come to expect from anyone pursuing careers in the entertainment/political industry, has constantly kept us captivated. Consider it: in just over a year she has written a bestselling book, ran as vice-president, resigned as governor, hosted her own television show, and provided ample material for the tabloids! Incredible; a drama-fueled resume that is on par with the likes of Paris Hilton, Larry Flynt, and even Bill Clinton himself!

Personally, I think that it is high time for Sarah Palin to start her own make-up and clothing line. You know, something to help average women achieve that "I-go-hunting-before-breakfast-and-wear-Carhartts-to-bill-signing-ceremonies-and-ran-a-sub-four-hour-marathon-after-having-four-children-and-made-it-onto-the-cover-of-Vogue" look which she sports with so much expertise. Surely she would have a significant market share in the cosmetics industry. Come to think of it, maybe that IS her intent, and this is why she decided to name her book "Going Rogue"! (Hot damn, this woman is shrewd.)

But no, really, this is so much silliness, and so I want to close on a more serious note here: can anyone tell from this photo whether Biden has received Botox surgery?

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