There's Something about Sarah

Sarah Palin’s book Going Rogue: An American Life is available today in book stores nationwide. Although very few copies were released prior to the publication date — and the ones that were seem more to have been leaked than strategically placed — the excerpts available online have both whetted the appetite of Palin’s fans and fanned the flames of her critics.

Palin has a lot of supporters or, at least, fans. Going Rogue is ranked number one in book sales on (and has been in the top 100 for the past 49 days, beating new books by Stephen King and Dan Brown). According to a new Rasmussen report, fifty-nine percent of Republican voters say Sarah Palin shares their values. By contrast, 74 percent of Republicans say their party’s representatives in Congress have lost touch with GOP voters nationwide over the past several years, said the report.

Palin’s detractors are not hard to find, either. The Associated Press concluded that “Palin’s book goes rogue on some facts” after assigning 11 writers who came up with six major errors in the book, ranging from Palin’s frugality to the Exxon Valdez settlement. (As Mark Steyn pointed out on National Review Online, “That’s 1.8333333 writers for each error.”) Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic also compiled a list of Palin’s “demonstrable lies.”

Sarah Palin is still a popular target for political parody. Today is also the release date of at least two Palin book parodies. The two parody books also share a title that mocks the title of Palin’s book.

The first, Going Rouge: Sarah Palin, An American Nightmare, is a collection of essays compiled by Richard Kim and Betsy Reed, both editors at The Nation, a weekly magazine that has been described as “the flagship of the Left.” The essays in the book attack Palin on multiple fronts, with her feminism, popular appeal, and Christianity as favorite lines of attack.

Almost every essay (except the editors’ transitional chapters and concluding remarks) have been previously published online during McCain and Palin’s campaign in the fall of 2008, so if you really want to hear “the other side of Palin," do a Google search instead of buying the book.

The second parody book, Going Rouge: The Sarah Palin Rogue Coloring & Activity Book, turns out to be a backhanded form of flattery. With activities like an impossible maze with the stated goal “Help Sarah Find Her Way to the White House” and a dead animal as a wardrobe option for the paper doll (included), it is clear that this is another attempt at lampoon. However, creators Michael Stinson and Julie Sigwart actually say more about the power and appeal of Palin than they probably intend. For instance, would we want to dress up a paper doll of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in a bikini? Or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?

For that matter, does any one in their wildest imagination think Clinton or Pelosi would be having as much fun as the cartoon Palin clearly is on the front cover, waving a cowboy hat and holding a gun? Those city girls wouldn’t even know how to walk in Palin’s fur-lined boots.

Her critics get the loudest word, but perhaps not the last. The grassroots website Conservatives4Palin responded to the AP story with a “definitive debunking” of what the AP called lies. This earned the site a thank-you on Sarah Palin’s Facebook page.

Facebook and Twitter have both been important Palin communication tools since she resigned as governor, possibly a sign of Palin’s strategy to appeal to the “average American.” Her Going Rogue book tour also targets average American locations, including locations “not usually included in a typical book tour,” according to Palin (again on her Facebook page). “For instance, I’m looking forward to meeting our honorable men and women in uniform and their families at a Fort Bragg book signing, and to reconnecting with friends my family made last year on the campaign trail in different book signing venues,” she wrote.

Her appearance on Oprah’s talk-show, which aired the day before her book’s release, was widely considered must-see TV, with media attention focused on the event well before it actually aired on Monday, Nov. 16. It became one of the top 10 trending topics on the social networking site Twitter less than half-way through the hour-long show.

Palin talked about a variety of topics during the interview with Oprah, including problems within the McCain campaign in 2008 (involving her diet and fashion), her daughter Bristol’s pregnancy, her own discovery that she was pregnant with a Down Syndrome child, Levi Johnston’s recent Playgirl shoot (Palin called it “porn”), and her treatment by the media, particularly Katie Couric. Palin said that she knew the much-criticized interviews with Couric (who she called “the perky one”) had not gone well at the time, and understood that her answers made her appear ill-informed.

Palin also took responsibility for the mistakes she made that ultimately formed her image. Asked if she thought she had been naïve in the campaign, Palin said she had been naïve to think the media would leave her children alone. Palin spoke at length about her children, some of whom were present in the audience, calling them "my strength" and her family a "support system" that keeps her "grounded."

Palin said she has seen very clearly since her resignation as governor that "you don’t need a title to make a difference." Addressing the presidential election in 2012, Palin said it is “not on my radar screen right now.” We’ll see.


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