"I Hate People...And I Don't Care If They Hate Me!"
Going Rogue, An American Life by Sarah Palin HarperCollins 2009 (413 pages).
I have read Going Rogue cover to cover. Anyone who cares to question my bona fides is free to review my copy, which contains much underlining and profanity scrawled in the margins. But to be fair, pretty much all my books are filled with underling and marginal profanity.
But credit for the driving force that pushed this book my way goes to the angry grudge match between Amazon.com and Walmart. For reasons known only to those juggernauts and their gods, both decided to get into a pissing match to see WHICH ONE could deal the most copies of Going Rogue and Stephen King’s new book, Under the Dome. So, when Amazon.com offered Going Rogue at nine bucks USD (less than a third the list price), they had me. I knew I would get more than nine dollars of enjoyment out of reading it—and I certainly have.
So, what I have learned after 413 pages of Going Rogue? Not much perhaps, but some. Most notable: that Sarah Palin, not unlike Mikey from the cereal commercials back in the day, hates everything.
Breaking it down, here are the stars of Ms. Palin’s Hate Book.
Why does Sarah Palin hate the “media”? I’m guessing it is because in Ms. Palin’s mind, the role of the media is to “report” Ms. Palin’s views on the world in a manner that makes her look good. The fact that television, print media, and internet cowboys deign to make Ms. Palin look “bad,” she sees that as evidence of “counterfeit objectivity” and a bias against her personally. Is there anyone in particular (cough cough) that Ms. Palin especially does not care for? Funny you should ask. While Ms. Palin is not overly fond of Charles Gibson, his questioning her of the “Bush Doctrine” hardly merits mention. Ms. Katie Couric’s series of interviews, on the other hand, are discussed in at least five different places. At another time, I’ll go into how the press kicked Ms. Palin around, but until that time, trust me that La Belle Couric is hands down the bête noir of Palin's World. My favorite Couric story (and it is hard to choose a favorite), is when Ms. Palin became upset at Ms. Couric asking multiple questions about abortion: “Katie asked it again. And again. And again. I had been out of journalism for a long time, and it was pretty obvious the rules had changed. I felt sick about the depths to which some in the press had apparently sunk, not because it was unfair to me and John [McCain], but because it was unfair to the American electorate” (emphasis supplied). Ms. Palin’s experience “in journalism” was a brief stint covering sports for a local television affiliate in Alaska. Think I am making this up? “Katie and her producers decided on which fraction America would see—and let’s just say the emphasis was on my worst moments. Editing footage is nothing new, of course; I created video packages when I worked as a sports reporter” (emphasis supplied). NO! SAY IT AIN’T SO!
Chief among the alluded to but unnamed villains are the proverbial usual gang of idiots know as “the leftwing bloggers.” I am wholly at a loss as to understand Ms. Palin’s obsessive demonization of this group. As a practical matter, the entire constituency of this paltry gang is too small to make the slightest difference, either electorally or as a measurable faction in public opinion. But according to Ms. Palin, these dastardly bloggers make stuff up (I’m not making this up), and then “feed” that made up stuff to their “friends” in the “mainstream media.” The extent of Ms. Palin’s Nixonian rage and perceived victimization by Bloggerworld is seen in Ms. Palin’s insistence that a solitary unnamed (but much referenced) member of this merry band (Celtic Diva, of Blue Oasis, For the Alaska Community and Beyond) is largely credited with pulling down the governorship of Alaska. Whoa doctor, asJerry Coleman would say.
Still, from an historical perspective, everything that Ms. Palin complains of is child’s play, compared to the bad ol’ days of William Randolph Hearst, et al. If Ms. Palin doesn’t like how she was treated by CBS, she should read David Halberstam’s bookThe Powers that Be, and see how the Los Angles Times handled Upton Sinclair’s campaign for governor of California. Still, for Ms. Palin, the role of the so-called fourth estate is to tell Ms. Palin how good she looks: “It was one lie after another—from rape kits to Bridges to Nowhere. All easy enough to disprove if the press had done its job.” Sorry dahling, but you don’t look mahvelous.
Even more surprising is the fact that Ms. Palin is shocked SHOCKED to discover that any moron with an internet connection can (and will) say pretty much any stupid thing a body can imagine see, e.g. Samsara Samizdat. At one point, Ms. Palin is outraged that some internet bloggers “claimed” to have “naked” photos of Ms. Palin, from a porno film she appeared in. Given that “fake” photographs are as old as photography itself, and that anyone who doesn’t have a photoshopped “picture” of themselves doing something they’ve never done isn’t trying, how can she possibly be surprised?
Speaking of naked, conspicuous by his absence in Going Rogue, is Mr. Larry Flynt, “publisher” of the hardcore film Who's Nailing Paylin? While I do not have the numbers, I am certain, sure that many more people have seen the Hustler film “dramatizing” Ms. "Paylin’s" having sex with (among others) two Russian soldiers (who are soviet era, for some reason) than have ever read the bloggers she complains about. But Larry Flynt gets a pass from Going Rogue.
Number two on the enemies list is a group difficult to characterize. All throughoutGoing Rogue, Ms. Palin praises what she calls “common sense conservativism,” and disparages not only anything she determines to be complicated to understand, but also the people who do understand the complicated. For example, in one of the few places where Mr. Todd Palin appears, Ms. Palin lists his qualifications as follows: “Todd knew how much our state and our family had to contribute to the campaign and, if we were successful, to the country. It went beyond common sense conservatism and traditional values to the fact that we are everyday Americans.”
Here’s another example. One of the persistent thorns in Ms. Palin’s side is former Wasilla mayor Mr. John Stein: “Stein’s background was in city planning. He wasn’t a born-here, rasied-here, gonna-be-burried-here type of hometown guy. He was more into the technical aspects of growth, planning, and code compliance. I once heard a voter bark at Mayor Stein that he wasn’t impressed with his [Mayor Stein’s] public administration degree. 'I can’t support a guy whose degree is in public management,’ the guy hollered after a local debate. 'The public does not need to bemanaged!'" (emphasis in original). Of course, Ms. Palin does not feel obligated to mention that she herself was born in Sandpoint, Idaho. But we digress.
So, you have the guy with a degree in public administration vs. the gal with a bachelors in “communications” who went to five different colleges to get her degree. Who would you want to be mayor of a town of 6,000? Here, let Ms. Palin help you decide: “It was evident during my years on the council that the mayor and I had sharply differing ideas about the future of Wasilla and how to make that future happen. He was for more government control; I was for smaller government and more individual freedom. I wanted government to appropriately provide the private sector with infrastructure tools to increase opportunities. Stein supported expanding land-use restrictions and building codes. I wanted to eliminate property taxes (since we now had the sales tax), slow down the rate of government growth, and build roads and sewer systems. Stein knew exactly what Wasilla needed to do to continue to grow. I was dumb as a stump, armed only with mealy-mouthed platitudes.” Okay—I made up that last one. Nevertheless, Ms. Palin details how the streets in Wasilla were unpaved, and now this tiny town would have to start providing its own police service. And yet, Palin the populist decided to run as a “budget cutter.”
Do you think I am making this up? I wish! “It wasn’t the last time I’d find that there’s no better training ground for politics than motherhood.” Or how about this, where Ms. Palin describes how she “drafted” the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA): “Throughout the process, it was our goal to take one of the state’s most historic—and most technical, buzzworded, boring-to-read—bills and boil it down to the common sense level—because that’s my world."
Here’s another one. “[President Ronald] Reagan once recalled with amusement that economists in the 1970s never saw the tech boom coming when they made their gloomy forecasts. The personal computer revolutionized our economy, yet the ‘experts’ didn’t see it coming. Energy independence is a bit like that.” What, you may ask, is energy independence “like”? I have no idea, but feel free to try and make sense of Ms. Palin’s convoluted arguments on p. 392.
But there are a few experts that Ms. Palin frankly admires: “Kid Rock, for instance, is very pro-America and has common sense ideas.” Then there was the time “…Jon Voight blew us away with his articulate and passionate reasoning for the real change America needs.”
The most painful part of Going Rogue, though, is Ms. Palin’s complete naiveté in discussing the 2008 credit meltdown and stock market collapse. To give you an idea of economics Palin-style: “As more and more Americans understand that cap and trade is an environmentalist Ponzi scheme in which only the government benefits, they will refuse to tolerate it.” You’d think that someone, somewhere at HarperCollins would have taken the time to sit down and explain to La belle Palin what a Ponzi scheme is. See, e.g. Bernie Maddoff.
No, to hear Ms. Palin tell it, Wasilla AK is far superior to Lake Wobegon MN, because unlike Lake Wobegon, all the children in Wasilla are below average.
The Legislative Branch
This came to me as a surprise, the extent of contempt the Palin heart harbors for lawmakers: “Alaskans had just voted to shorten the legislature’s session from 120 days down to 90 because the public was tired of seeing lawmakers waste the first few weeks, or months, not accomplishing much.”
Mr. Hollis “Gunny” French, the Democratic chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is particularly demonized for his opposition of all that is right and good for Alaska. Just how exactly Senator French was able to place himself at the core of evil, I have no idea. But according to Going Rogue, he does the devil’s work and does it well.
Nor has Ms. Palin much use for the US Senate. She asserts that her prior political experience of PTA, city council and mayor of a small town (population less than 6,000), head of an administrative board, lieutenant governor and twenty months as governor of the smallest state in the union (population smaller than San Francisco) gave Ms. Palin more and better experience than Senators Obama and Biden: McCain campaign advisors Mr. Steve Schmidt and Mr. Randy Scheunemann “reminded me that Obama didn’t have foreign policy experience. As a governor, I had gained such experience as it related to Alaska’s international commerce and energy issues, as well as our strategic and national security position. Steve and Randy reminded me that after a decade and a half in public office, including serving as a city manager and a governor, I had more administrative and executive experience than either Obama or Biden.” Uh huh. Sure. Of course, Senator Biden is later described as having “been sitting in a US Senate seat since [Ms. Palin] was nine years old,” as evidence of Senator Biden's wealth and breath of government experience.
Republicans and Other Co-Workers
This aspect of Going Rogue has received the most attention by reviewers. I have to say, though, that even as someone wanting to believe the worst of Ms. Palin, I was shocked at the pettiness and vitriol of her remarks. For example: “Rick [Halford] wasn’t an establishment Republican in the derogatory sense of the term…” Not even I would say “establishment Republican” is in and of itself a slur. I stand corrected, I guess.
But explain to me why Ms. Palin would feel the need to be so vindictive in her criticism of legislative director Mr. John Bitney? While Mr. Bitney is not named per se in Going Rogue, he is clearly identified as her first “legislative director.” In describing her experience with new staff as Governor, Ms. Palin states that “20 percent” were “doozies” in the bad way. One of the dooziest was Mr. Bitney, who is introduced as a “Blackberry games addict who couldn’t seem to keep his lunch off his tie. He relished the perception that he was a ‘player’ in Juneau politics, but we were never sure which team he was on.” Later, Ms. Palin writes of Mr. Bitney “Slouching against the wall, he assured us that, yeah, he had everything under control, mission accomplished. The fact that his shirt was buttoned one button off and his shirttail was poking though his open fly didn’t exactly inspire confidence.”
Going Rogue leaves the reader wondering how Mr. Bitney was able to avoid civil commitment proceedings, let alone maintain gainful employment. Nevertheless, Mr. Bitney was employed prior to his hiring by Ms. Palin, and after his firing, he had no time finding work with an identified GOP leader of Alaska’s state senate. So one would have to presume that on a regular basis, Mr. Bitney buttons his shirt correctly and goes about with his fly zipped. Why then, would Ms. Palin go out of her way to humiliate an otherwise non-public person?
Which brings me back to the one truly shocking thing about Going Rogue. It’s not just that Ms. Palin fails to take responsibility for anything, it is the pettiness of her attacks on co-workers and subordinates. If there wasn’t a reason why Ms. Palin left Alaska after she resigned as governor, there’s plenty of reasons why she’s not there now. Following the publication of Going Rogue, I can’t imagine Ms. Palin ever returning to Alaska. She won’t receive a warm reception from anyone outside members of her immediate family—and I’m not even sure about some of them.
Land Use Regulations and Building Codes
Why Ms. Palin has such a bee in her bonnet about building codes, I have no idea. But she sees them as the purest form of statist totalitarianism. I have my own conspiracy theory on this, involving how Ms. Palin’s Wasilla mansion was built and who paid for the building supplies (HINT: Not the Palins), but I’ll go into that another day.
You had to know this one was coming. First, there is Ms. Palin’s favorite straw-bogeyman, the National Coalition to Confiscate All Manners of Firearms and Turn America into a Police State (Hollywood Division): “I would face pressure from Hollywood to halt hunting, ban guns, and end our state’s wildlife management practices, such as controlling predators. . . I had plenty of backup when telling Hollywood liberals what I thought of their asinine plans to ban guns.” While we at Samsara Samizdat wholly and unreservedly endorse such a program, we are at a loss to think of anyone in “Hollywood” who would go along with us.
But Ms. Judd still gets her shout out as an otherwise unnamed “perky, pretty celebrity:”
“One animal rights group recruited a perky, pretty celebrity to attack our scientifically controlled, state-managed wolf-control program. It was ironic that she opposed using guns to kill predators that would cause Native (sic) people to starve, but apparently not opposed to taking movie roles in which she’d use guns to kill predatory people.”
I am not making that up. Ms. Palin’s gross mischaracterization of the attack on Alaska’s program to hunt wolves by planes has been well documented elsewhere. If you care, you can read about it here, courtesy of Shannyn Moore: Just a Girl from Homer. Suffice to say, “scientifically controlled” in this context is not unlike the “fruit” in Froot Loops.
In describing “Lena,” Todd Palin’s native grandmother, Ms. Palin writes “her history sounds like something out of a Herman Melville novel.” WHICH Melville novel, you may ask? If you guessed Moby Dick, Israel Potter, Pierre, Billy Budd, The Confidence Man, or Benito Cereno, forget it because I already tried those. Ms. Palin doesn’t say, but she might have meant Typee and/or Omoo, because those novels are about non-anglo non-Western Europeans. They are, however, about South Pacific Islanders (Typee) and Tahitians (Omoo).
If I had to guess, Ms. Palin probably meant to say Jack London instead of Herman Melville. But even that is a stretch, because while Mr. London did write about native peoples of the North, his novels and stories are not exactly brimming with female protagonists.
President Jimmy Carter
In the immortal words of Ms. Palin:
“I was in high school the day Reagan took the oath of office. On the same day, minutes after he was sworn in, a band of Iranian militants released fifty-two Americans, after having held them—and our national pride—hostage for 444 days. I had followed the Iran hostage crisis and remember wondering why President Jimmy Carter didn’t act more decisively. From my high school perspective, I thought the question was, Why (sic) did he allow America to be humiliated and pushed around? The new president being sworn in radiated confidence and optimism. The enemies of freedom took notice. In years to come people would ask, What (sic) did he have that Carter didn’t? To me, the answer was obvious. He had a steel spine.”
In case you are wondering, at that point the marginal notes in my copy of Going Rogue contain multiple references to an extremely rude and graphic expression suggesting multiple permutations of sexual congress. If you’re wondering why I found that reference to President’s Reagan and Carter so upsetting, please consult Stephen Kinzer’s All the Shah’s Men, Haynes Johnson’s Sleepwalking Through History, or the Supreme Court decision affirming an executive order by then President Reagan, blocking lawsuits by American citizens against Iran’s Islamist Regime, and releasing significant funds that had been frozen in American Banks. I can’t remember the name of the case, but will include it later.
“In national politics, some feel that Big Business (sic) is always opposed to the Little Guy (sic). Some people seem to think a profit motive is inherently greedy and evil, and that what’s good for business is bad for people. (That’s what Karl Marx thought too.)” (sic)
Either Ms. Palin got a D in her college economics class (singular), or I am owed a refund from that class where I had to read The Grundrisse. I've written and await reply from the professor of my class in Hegal and Marx.
YOU READ IT HERE FIRST! A Samsara Samizdat exclusive: What Going Rogue has to say about Levi Johnson. In chapter six, subchapter seven, Ms. Palin is describes yet another telephone call from her son Track, who is currently serving in Iraq. For a soldier in a combat zone, Track seems to be extremely informed and up to date on Alaskan local politics, and is calling Ms. Palin an inordinate number of times. On that particular call, Track “talked about watching his sister be humiliated on national television as her former boyfriend went on his fact-free kiss-and-tell media tour. Track knew the kid (sic) was making things up.”
Now, considering the fact that (so far as I know) Mr. Johnson has pointedly refused to talk about Bristol (and therefore not telling about any kisses), I have to wonder about the television that Track is watching. Of course, my wondering can only increase with that subchapter beginning with the line “This isn’t good, Mom,” Track told me from a desert outpost 6,000 miles away. “I just saw another dumbass ‘expert’ on TV telling the world who he thinks we are.”
Maybe our pals and gals in Iraq get to watch more television than I would have thought. Or maybe Our Man Track is King of the Pogues—not that those options are mutually exclusive or anything.
Not only does Ms. Palin unfairly (and frankly incorrectly) brand ACORN as “experts in voter fraud,” she goes after the big man himself. After the debacle of the Presidential election, Ms. Palin returns to an Alaska where she and her staff face a title wave of (in her view) unfair and unfounded ethics complaints and Freedom of Information Act requests:
I am sorry if I am shocking you, but in Sanford Horwitt’s 550 page biography of Saul Alinsky Let Them Call Me Rebel, the phrase “Freedom of Information Act” does not appear. To be truthful, if Ms. Palin actually deigned to sit down and LOOK AT either Reveille for Radicals or Rules for Radicals, I am certain, sure she would be impressed with both the book and Mr. Alinsky. Just my personal opinion.
In March 2008, a “group from the Republican Governors Association” traveled to Alaska to warn the intrepid Ms. Palin that she was being “Emanuelized” or “Thumped” (her words). Not only is “thumped” an expression that sounds dirty, but isn’t really, it’s the title of an infamous book The Thumpin’: How Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats Learned to Be Ruthless and Ended the Republican Revolution. Heard of it? Me neither. But it’s a real book by Chicago Tribune reporter Naftali Bendavid, about how Rahm Emanuel headed up the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2006 elections.
Now, you may remember the 2006 mid-term election as the time when the Democrats handed the Grand Ol’ Party a “thumpin’” (President Bush’s words), because the 2003 invasion of Iraq had degenerated into an especially brutal war where no one was winning but America was definitely losing. Additionally, the White House had been forced to come clean that every single rationale in support of the invasion was not only untrue—but that the Bush Administration knew prior to the invasion that the Party Line wasn’t true. Moreover, the Tom Delay clique and his K Street cronies were on their way to jail, courtesy of Jack Abramoff. And the economy was starting to struggle. All in all, it was a bad time to be a Republican—which is why the Democrats were able to capture majorities in both the House and Senate.
At another time, I may (or may not) write about employment law and “Troopergate.” But here’s how Ms. Palin connects the dots. First, there are a group of Alaskan “Democrats” who have close ties to Mr. Pete Rouse, a former Alaskan resident who was “Senator Obama’s chief of staff.” Even though Mr. Rouse “actually resides on the East Coast (sic), and has for years, he still votes in Alaska though a voter registration address on Main Street in Juneau—an address once shared by Alaska State Senator Kim Elton on voter rolls.” J’Accuse!
Then, the Usual Suspects (starring Senator Hollis “Gunny” French) get to Mr. Monegan, and Mr. Monegan “dramatically changed his story about the reassignment.” Guess what happens next? If you were thinking Governor Palin (and her family) refused to participate in the legislative investigation of the incident, insisting that investigation was biased and a new and independent investigation was needed, you’d be wrong. Instead, Ms. Palin claims that “[m]eanwhile, the legislature’s investigative panel decided to pay an independent investigator to find something to charge me with while I was being vetted as a VP candidate.”
Guess what happened next! If you were thinking that ehe independent investigation found that as at-will employee, Mr. Monegan could be fired for any reason or no reason, Governor Palin and First Husband Todd nevertheless exceeded their legislative authority in trying to pressure Public Safety Officer Monegan to fire Trooper Wooten, you’re wrong again: “The ‘independent’ investigator ultimately issued a strained and nonsensical decision in October that actually declared that I had been well within my legal rights to reassign Commissioner Monegan.”
So what? you may ask. Here’s what: remember State Senator Kim Elton, who one time ostensively shared an address with Obama campaign advisor Pete Rouse for the purpose of establishing Mr. Rouse’s residence for voter eligibility? Well, “Elton, who played a key role in advancing the Monegan issue as a ginned up ‘scandal,’ has since moved to Washington and joined the Obama interior department as director of Alaska Affairs.”
Ah HA! You now shout. Well, maybe: “Was I ‘Thumped,’ as some suggested? Others can decide. One does have to wonder, though, what Kim Elton did to earn his new job in Washington.”
One does have to wonder as well, though, why others should probably stay off the drugs--because that is not even vaguely at all what happened.
Reading Entire Books
Going Rogue has more than the average number of trite, out of context quotes from famous people that either don’t quite fit or are just wrong for the point Ms. Palin is trying make. By now, you have probably heard of Geoffrey Dunn’s column where he points out that Ms. Palin attributes a quote to “John Wooden,” when in fact the quote is from Native American author John Wooden Legs, writing about Wounded Knee. Here’s the actual quote from Going Rogue: “Our land is everything to us . . . I will tell you of the things we remember on our land. We remember that our grandfathers paid for it—with their lives. U Rah Rah! C Rah Rah! L Rah Rah! A Rah Rah! UCLA RAH RAH! John Wooden.” Okay, I made up that last part. But at the time, I remember thinking “John Wooden? The guy who coached Bill Walton? What ‘grandfather’ could he possibly be talking about?”
What I find embarrassing is the source books for all these quotes are never mentioned. Pearl Buck is quoted on something about patriotism, Plato ("Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle"), Lou Holtz (he's quoted twice. As for why, your guess is good as mine), Aristotle, Pascal (“. . . the filling of what the French writer Blaise Pascal called ‘the god-shaped vacuum’ in every human heart”)—none of the quotes made sense in the context of the author’s body of work, and seem to have been harvested from a low budget knock off of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations--which is what Mr. Dunn suggests.
Finally, the people that Going Rogue expresses the greatest contempt for are the poor schlubs who have to read and review this mess. How do I know? Simple: there is no index, and the only sections identified by name are the six chapters. Suppose I am working for a living (as opposed to a labor and love and ego), and I am on a deadline to report what Sarah Palin has to say about Katie Couric? In a run of the mill autobiography, I’d flip to the index, and there under C I’d find the five places where Ms. Palin kvetches about Katie Couric (six, if you count the fact that at Ms. Palin’s bayside “press conference” to explain why she was resigning as Governor, CBS was pointedly not invited). But without an index, I’d have to slog through the entire book. Why did so many early reports on Going Rogue state that Ms. Palin did not mention Mr. Levi Johnson? Because as I mentioned earlier, the only allusion to Mr. Johnson happens on page 375, and not by name--which is long after most book reviewers give up the ghost.
“So, the sun’s really hot, sea water has a salty flavor, and you hate Sarah Palin. Still, should I read Going Rogue?”
If you want to know about the 2008 campaign in general—or surprisingly, Sarah Palin in particular—a much better book on both is Mr. Dan Balz and Mr. Haynes Johnson’sThe Battle for America 2008.
Sadly, the beginning chapters do contain the seeds for what could have been an interesting and worthwhile book….but that’s something I’ll complain about another time.