Friday, November 20, 2009

I Go Roguish

It was only a matter of time before I would write something about Going Rogue, I suppose. Something about wanting to give equal attention to an interesting (if not compelling) figure on the right to complement Dreams from my Father, which I read just after the inauguration. (And which I thought was one of the most compelling books I've ever read--the only one that made me cry.)

So I ordered Sarah Palin's book not because I wanted or expected deep insight into her political philosophy--or because I cared to read her articulate her political philosophy--but because I wanted some knowledge of her character. (Also because I needed to spend four more dollars to get free shipping from Amazon.)

She seems to get more mileage out of being "cute" than most people above the age of five. (The Anamaniacs are insightful on the perils of this type of appeal.) She has a personality as big as the state she calls home -- which may be an enviable quality in a talk-show host or a blogger but isn't necessarily what one looks for in the Leader of the Free World. And she's a distance runner.

I won't be convinced that she's presidential material. But I do have one question that I hope would be answered by this book: Why? What would make a bubbly, athletic woman helping her husband with their business (with three kids) embark all of a sudden on the political journey of Sarah Palin? She presents it as something that unfolded for her, with somewhat divine inspiration, but I don't get the sense of her motivation. Or of her fears. Or her goals. Honestly, I think she's cut from a cloth we've seen before. "Someone we'd like to have a drink with, or to date." But someone who is incapable of the least bit of introspection. Why did she run for governor? And why did she quit with eighteen months left in her term?

There are pictures of her family--mostly of her sons and her younger daughters, and very few of her daughter Bristol who gave her her grandson. It makes one wonder what kind of emotional baggage she's carrying from being on a presidential ticket while her family was challenged in the way it was. And there are moose. And lots of beautiful Alaska scenery.

Much has been made of the factual innacuracies in the book, particularly about her role in the McCain campaign (the clothes, her appearance on Saturday Night Live, etc). Other writers at the Huffington Post and elsewhere have addressed it much better than I can. But from what I've read in Going Rogue, I'm left feeling... not much of anything. I don't disagree with her any less than I did before. I find her strikingly intolerant and inflexible, with a bit of a persecution complex and a fundamental lack of understanding about any worldview except hers. I'm surprised that the first vignette she includes in the book, of her at the Alaska State Fair with her daughter Piper, focuses on the pro-life ad that featured her daughter Piper. So many is painted in political tones. She does see the world in reds and blues--not colors.

So, in the end, I'm left feeling kind of numb. I don't know anything about her that I didn't before.

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