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November 20, 2009

"Going Rogue": My Book Report, Which Was Written by Russ from Winterset

Several weeks ago, I put out feelers to multiple Sarah-related organizations about "Going Rogue". Suppressing any giggles that usually accompany my attempts to appear serious, I used my limited blog "celebrity" to finagle an advance copy of the book from Harper Collins (well, "advance" is a relative term, since the postman dropped it off Tuesday afternoon while I was at work), and I just finished reading it about a half hour ago. I know, I know. Not exactly timely. But what can I say? Unlike Wonkette's review in the Washington Post, I like to actually READ a book before I try to summarize its contents (however; in Ms. Cox's defense, I should point out that "Going Rogue" was utterly devoid of tawdry tales of infidelity and buttsex, so its not surprising that she gave up on the last 150 pages and "phoned it in"). I'm going to forego any verbatim passages from the book and give you my general impression of the work.

My verdict? I liked it. A good read that puts Sarah Palin's life story and experiences from Campaign '08 in a new light. This is an autobiography written in first-person format, so don't buy it expecting to find any perspective from a passive voice: This book is strictly "I, Me, We" and everything in the book, save the "A View from Alaska" viral email from Dewey Whetsell sandwiched between the meat of the book & the acknowledgements, is presented to you from Sarah's perspective.

I like this choice: One of Sarah's acknowledged mistakes from the whirlwind 2008 Presidential campaign is sitting by while others crafted the message and controlled her words, so why not set the record straight with a book that's delivered completely from her perspective?

Now, lets get down to brass tacks. The paybacks:

Schmidt and Wallace aren't spared in this account, but criticisms of their actions are limited to what Governor Palin or her close advisers actually observed. No wild conspiracy theories about their motivations, or amateur psychoanalysis of their motivation. This is a book that Joe Friday and Frank Gannon would absolutely love. Actually, I thought that she presented a balanced view of both of them; lauding them for their devotion to John McCain and professional experience while simultaneously questioning their tunnel vision and inexplicable choices. I think that both Schmidt and Wallace's statements in the press over the last few days say more about their character than anything Sarah put in this book.

John McCain comes off as a courageous man who delegated his campaign to faceless handlers, called "Headquarters" in the book. If Sarah Palin has any critical things to say about John McCain, you'll have to get them directly from her, because I couldn't find a single one in this book.

Matthew Scully, her "crunchy con" speechwriter comes off as a White Knight, as does Randy Schuenemann. She also heaps praise on "Jason, Jeannie and Bexie" three of the McCain staffers who worked with her the closest and became friends during the campaign. One of the things that I noticed about this book is that almost everyone who served under Sarah Palin is painted in a flattering light (with the lone exception of her unnamed legislative director from early in her governorship, who comes off as a disheveled Oscar Madison-esque dunce with an addiction to the "brick-breaker" game on his blackberry), while the criticism is reserved for senior staffers and associates. Personally, I like the fact that she treats the "help" better than she treats the alleged "brains" of the operation. Hell, she even treats the media who rode with her on the back of the plane better than they deserve to be treated.

Her criticism of Katie Couric seems reasonable, and I'm sure that should CBS ever release ALL the raw footage of the interviews Sarah Palin will prevail in the court of public opinion. Is it "whiny" to admit to botching answers while you still bemoan the editing of the interview & the nature of the questions? (Apparently, if your name is "Sarah Palin", the answer appears to be YES.)

You know what I liked best about the book? You remember "Ricky Hollywood"? Not. One. Single. Mention. That's cold. Other than this deliberate omission, I couldn't find a single outwardly venomous reference in this book. Its like a king-fu revenge movie starring Mr. Rogers: You know there's some ass-whoopin' going on there, but damned if you can see the bloody details.

Sarah's writing style might seem stilted compared to the flowery rhetoric of Teleprompter One, but to this denizen of "flyover country" it seemed to ring true. Sarah Palin campaigned on a "What You See Is What You Get" platform, and never claimed to be Victor Davis Hanson or William Jennings Bryan. She's a happy housewife from the Mat-Su Valley who punctuates her stories with positive anecdotes about her family & her State because she wants you to see Alaska and America through her eyes. If this is cold, calculated populist junkfood designed to falsely endear her to ham & eggers like me........then she's got the tune down pat.

There are enough references to policy and budget debates in this book to convince me that Sarah Palin didn't just fall off the turnip truck, but ultimately this book has one mission: Introduce America to the Sarah Palin who was deemed "too controversial" to step into the spotlight in September of 2008. There will be plenty of time for The Palin Plan for America, or Palin's Profiles in Courage now that she's had her unobstructed coming-out party.

My recommendation?

If you're a conservative who feels that the Republican Party needs a major rebuild & several coats of paint? Buy the book. This is red meat for you, kemosabe.

If you're a Republican Moderate (or "Conservative Pragmatist" - not to say that those are equivalent, since that's a fight for another day) who thinks that Sarah Palin might be too extreme for your tastes or that she's "damaged goods"? Buy the book. You'll get years worth of entertainment by putting it out on your coffee table at parties and watching your liberal friends literally soil themselves in indignation - plus I think you'll find yourself agreeing with Sarah more than you might think.

If you're a conservative Democrat, you should at least check this book out from the local library and read it. You might like what you find.

If you're someone who considered buying one of those "Sarah Palin is a C&*t" t-shirts marketed during the campaign (Amanda Marcotte?), you should buy this book. Buy it and highlight every sentence, scribbling all of the Olbermann/Maddow talking points in the margins. After all, if you don't buy the book, you'll never find the hidden key the deciphers the Riddle of the Purloined Baby, and that would be gobsmackingly heartbreaking. Or heartbreakingly gobsmacked? Ahhhhh.....just buy the book already. You know you want to.

If you're the Vice President of the United States of America? Don't buy this book right now. Word is that Harper Collins is considering a "Pop-Up Sarah Palin" volume targeted at the kindergarten market just in time for Christmas. Its even got stickers!

SUMMARY: A personal memoir that covers Sarah Palin's life, admits fault and tells some "inside baseball" tales from the campaign, and gives a hint of things to come. This isn't a "5,000 Year Leap" or "Carnage and Culture", but it is a good read that embraces conservative principles.


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posted by Russ from Winterset at 01:55 AM

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