It’s hard to hate Sarah Palin after reading her new memoir, Going Rogue.
The Alaskan native isn’t in search and destroy mode here, nor is she the hyper-partisan harpy depicted by some outlets. She’s unblinkingly kind to Sen. John McCain despite their flawed joint campaign and devoted to her large family and home state.
Then again, those who hate Palin typically do so out of blind partisan fury, and no warm hearted memoir will change that.
Rogue, a guaranteed smash long before it hit store shelves last week, lets Palin share her side of the 2008 presidential campaign. But roughly half the book deals with her life before Sen. John McCain’s surprising choice for a running mate.
The tone is what many will expect from Alaska’s former governor — folksy and direct. It’s also long on conservative principles, many cribbed from President Ronald Reagan‘s playbook.
And while Palin played up her maverick status on the stump, her memoir plays it mostly safe.
Those who insist Palin is a rube, a dangerous woman with little intellectual curiosity, will be flummoxed by some of the material here. She goes into painstaking detail about her efforts to root out corruption in her home state and how she fought all comers — Republicans and Democrats alike — to do so.
Sure, it’s her version of recent history, but it’s clear she’s intimately familiar with the intricacies of state government. Whether that’s enough to make her a contender for the White House remains open to debate.
Those unfamiliar with Alaska will learn plenty about the misunderstood state. Palin brings her culture to vibrant life, describing the state’s natural beauty and rugged individualism in a way only a local can.
Some of the novelistic flourishes scattered throughout Going Rogue”feel forced, something one can blame on the author or her ghostwriter, whose name doesn’t appear on the book jacket.
Palin does deliver some personal anecdotes to prevent the book from becoming a novel-length stump speech. She recalls trying to make a fire the first night in the Alaskan governor’s mansion, and bungling it quite badly. She also shares how son Track got around his mother’s disdain for tattoos. He inked up his body with the state of Alaska and the Jesus fish, arguably the only symbols Mama couldn’t deny him.
She’s unusually forthright when discussing Trig, her fifth child, and the fleeting thought that she might terminate the pregnancy to avoid having a child with a severe disability. She told herself God wouldn’t give her a Down Syndrome child — “God would never give me anything I can’t handle. And I don’t think I can handle that.”
The subsequent passages in which she changes her mind in dramatic fashion will touch anyone with a disabled child.
Going Rogue is as good a Rorschach test as any for finding a reviewer’s ideological blinders. While many are calling the memoir little more than a 415 page blame-fest, the vast majority of her story deals with more pressing matters to the mother of five — like smaller government, greater self reliance and the delicate balance between work and family.
And should a former vice presidential candidate write a book about her experiences and not defend herself, particularly when the media machine treated her as viciously as it did? Frankly, she could have written a separate volume documenting the false attacks and sexist treatment of her campaign.
She does question the motives of some on the campaign staff, people who sensed the ticket was failing early on and eagerly sought a scapegoat to protect their post-election careers.
Palin isn’t afraid to direct blame at herself. She clearly didn’t understand the full scope of what being in the national spotlight would be like, chides her reaction to Sen. Hillary Clinton calling the media treatment of Sen. Barack Obama unfair and kicks herself for blowing the infamous Katie Couric interview.
That said, the book’s juiciest passages, the reasons why she resigned as Alaska’s governor, still don’t make sense.
The biggest mystery Going Rogue promises to solve is why she resigned as governor after only two years in office. Her public pronouncements on the matter, to date, have been fuzzy and unsatisfying.
Why did she abandon the state and, quite possibly, any chance at the highest office in the land? She seems born to be Alaska’s governor, a woman with the kind of intimate knowledge of the land and its people to best serve the state.
The answers for her resignation here are numerous, and ultimately, unconvincing. Her state was under constant assault from the Left eager to find a mistake, any mistake, to pin on her. The media, mostly liberal bloggers, were constantly pounding away at her family with scurrilous attacks. Her legal bills were piling up.
And while she’s not a quitter by nature, she quit all the same.
Had Palin retreated to some semblance of anonymity, her explanation might make some sense. But remaining in the public spotlight as she’s done means more scurrilous attacks, more legal bills, and her only way to fight back now is via her Facebook page — and the printed page.
It doesn’t take 11 AP reporters to realize Palin still wants to be a player on the national stage. Going Rogue is a colorful memoir, but a political manifesto all the same. It‘s just a shame her opponents won‘t be able to read it and get to know Palin the person — even if the author only reveals parts of herself.