Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue: An American Life is the best book published in the last six months to make the New York Times Best Seller List as it is the most important. I believe that Going Rogue is the most important book on the venerable list as Palin — the 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee — is the most visible (and currently viable) politician on the right, for better or worse.
While media reports reveal that some 70% of respondents to polls believe she is unqualified to serve as the President of the United States, her book shows that she is not making a pitch to the political establishment. And that makes her stronger than most political analysts believe.
Like her book’s title, Sarah Palin is a rogue, and this book, too, is a rogue, not a white elephant. She says within her pages that she is qualified for high office because she can represent the interests of “Joe Six Pack,” the average man, as she and her husband Todd are Joe Six Packs. That and her common approach are the strengths of her as a politician and as an author of the book, which was co-written with Lynn Vincent.
Vincent currently is finishing up Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of his Trip to Heaven and Back, the project she put on hold to help Palin write her memoir. An author of works with Christian themes, the book is the story of a four-year-old boy who had near-death experience and allegedly came back with news from heaven, having met relatives (including a dead sister) whom he had never met and knew nothing about.
Well, in my life-time, I’ve seen a broken-down movie actor I first remember as the “star” of Death Valley Days. — someone more fit for guest stints on The Love Boat cthan the Presidency — elected to the most powerful office in the world, and the Boston Red Sox win the World Series, something that was said back on the East Coast where I come from “couldn’t be done” for both these phenomena.
Thinking of Ronald Reagan and the Boston Red Sox, I am inspired to paraphrase George Santayana: “Those who forget miraculous events do come to pass are destined to fall on their ass when a wildly improbable event is repeated.” Both these marvels that left me in wonder happened twice!
Is it any wonder that Sarah Palin devotes a good deal of ink in Going Rogue to Ronald Reagan? The new Lynn Vincent book provides an apt metaphor for Palin’s political carer, as so many have written her off as dead.
Her belief in god is strong, and everything that happens to her is a manifestation of god’s will, so she has, in a sense, like the four-year old boy, visited heaven and come back with tales to tell.
I spent a long 10 hours on a long-delayed flight out of a Metro-Washington, D.C. airport last year, and one of the passengers seated in the row ahead of me was the journalist Mark Shields. He talked to me and a few other passengers about a wide variety of issues, including the Red Sox, Boston politics, and Sarah Palin.
Shields’ opinion was that Sarah Palin was not intellectually gifted, but he told us that people on the Democratic National Committee are scared of her as she polls so well in surveys of working women.
Reading Going Rogue, you are struck by the paucity of thought in the book on the major issues, both domestic and international, that face the United States and which any candidate for President must address. This is not that kind of book.
It is not a political manifesto, but a folksy memoir of a working mother who just happens to toil in the political realm, which is a kind of sport in Palin’s native Alaska, since there was so little to do in the era before satellite dishes and the Internet.
This is a book for people who see politics as sport, not an intellectual endeavor best graced by those with a PhD from Johns Hopkins, Berkeley, or one of the Ivy League graduate schools. This is a book for the people that Barack Obama doesn’t track well with. (It is only surprising to those that understand this to find that Palin does not go out of her way to criticize, let along attack, Obama in her book.)
The best parts of Palin’s book are those about her life as a working woman, a working mother, with a special needs child. Her pregnancy with her son Trig, when she found out the child was going to have Down’s syndrome, gave Palin insight into why a woman would want an abortion, which she is steadfastly against — the original “Grizzly Mom”. Her coping with the pregnancy of a teenage daughter elucidates the fundamental fact that she is real folks, and this is what terrifies the DNC.
As Palin’s book tour for Going Rogue and her embrace of the Tea Party movement shows us, she is not making an appeal to the political establishment. She is going rogue. Her campaign is going to be a potential Ross Perot in ’92 style grass roots insurgency, if her book is any indication, heavy on personality and her personal narrative, which is laid out here in her best-seller.
It is not going to be a campaign of details, such as a policy wonk like Bill or Hillary Clinton would launch, but one based on feelings rooted in a surety of a god-given sense of right and wrong The appeal, in both a literal and figurative sense, will be to the working moms and working dads, the “Joe Six Packs” that she is one of.
Forty-six years ago, the man who occupied the Senate seat now held by Sarah Palin’s 2008 running mate, John McCain, ran a campaign against the Republican Establishment and won the 1964 Republican Presidential nomination. Barry Goldwater was a very different kind of politician from Sarah Palin, but Goldwater begat Ronald Reagan, whom Palin sees as a spiritual godfather. She writes frequently of the former President in her book.
Yes, Ronald Reagan had policies (as his former friend double-Oscar-winner Melvyn Douglas said, haf-baked ideas recycled from the speeches he made for General Electric, the sponsor of his TV show) , but more importantly, he had an image and he was able to expertly wield narratives to get his points across to earn hearts & minds, as well as votes. No one would claim that Ronald Reagan was an intellectual; he was a former movie actor, a luftmensch from the silver screen and boob tube who refined and perfected a brand of TV-driven style of politics that is more style than substance, more heat than light.
Barack Obama, who praised Reagan in his dog fight against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination, understood this, and aside from his wonkiness, ran a campaign rooted in style. A generation after America had been seduced by a B-movie actor, Obama gave America the politician as rock star. He created a narrative of hope based on the trope of the downtrodden so-called Negro succeeding in America, the son of an African immigrant who realized the American dream and who had won the right to climb the greasy pole of politics right to the top.
If her book is an indicator, Sarah Palin will counter Barack Obama’s stone groove with an “aw shucks,” “just plain folks” narrative of the working woman/working mom who gets what she wants despite incredible odds, who overcomes despite the dollops of disrespect suffered by every working woman.
That is why this is the most important political book of the season, the best book of the past six months and a must-read: Sarah Palin should not be underestimated.
The book groans under the weight of her grievances, as Sarah Palin evens the score with her handlers from the John McCain campaign, big time. (She goes easy on McCain himself.) Her narrative taps the root of resentment of every working woman who ever encountered disrespect while trying to break the glass ceiling.
Will Sarah be able to break the ultimate glass ceiling, parlaying her book and media gigs into the Presidential nomination of one of the two major Parties? This is the major question unspoken in the book, but hinted at.
Like Obama, it is one of the ultimate Horatio Alger/All-American stories, if she succeeds. And Going Rogue shows us that Sarah Palin, with god’s help, does succeed.
“In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right” was the slogan of Barry Goldwater’s 1964 campaign. Sarah Palin, in Going Rogue, is after hearts, if not minds. She writes of her native Alaska and what it’s like to be on the final frontier.
She is one of the people, and it is to the people she will make her political pitch.
She is a hipper and far better looking Ma Joad, who instead of going West will journey East. And it is good to remember the words of that other frabjous Ma, spoken at the end of the 1940 movie made from John Steinbeck’s great American masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath. (Ironically, the words are not Steinbeck’s, just as the words that Palin uses frequently are crafted by others):
Ma Joad: Rich fellas come up an’ they die, an’ their kids ain’t no good an’ they die out. But we keep a’comin’. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us out; they can’t lick us. We’ll go on forever, Pa, ’cause we’re the people.
The rich as represented by the political establishment and the mass media, even the handlers of “maverick” John McCain, tried to put Sarah Palin down. But she can’t be licked, because she’s the people.
Going Rogue debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list on December 6, 2009, and remained there for six weeks, dropping down to #2 the week of January 17, 2010 after being knocked out of the catbird’s seat by another political book, John Heilemann & Mark Halperin’s Game Change.
Palin’s book remained in the Top 5 for another four weeks, dropped out of the Top Ten the week of February 14 and fell off of the best seller list a week later. It made it back on February 28, before dropping off for good on March 7th. In all, it spent 12 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List.
In all, Going Rogue has sold approximately two million copies of her book, for which she received an advance of between $1.5 million and $5 million, with most reports claiming the latter.
Game Change, a behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 Presidential campaign that has coverage of Palin, bested her six weeks at #1 by being the top selling book for seven . A book by Palin’s potential rival for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination, Mitt Romney’s No Apology, debuted at #1 on March 21, its sole time in the top slot. (No Apology spent five weeks in the Top 10, falling off the list of April 25th.)
A week after Romney’s debut on the best-seller lists, Courage and Consequence m the memoir by George W. Bush major domo Karl Rove, bowed on the New York Times Best Seller List at #2. Rove’s book has spent eight weeks on the list, and is still on it.
None of them is as important as Going Rogue: An American Life.
Hawes Publications: New York Times Best Seller List
Sign On San Diego,”‘Rogue’ Palin co-writer moves on to young boy’s heavenly memoir”