Probably should have fixed my stance on Sarah Palin about three years ago, but I thought after 2008 that she’d just go away. Sure called that one. Also, I hate when people diss things I care about if they clearly haven’t done their homework. Even though I do this repeatedly. So, partly in an attempt to be less hypocritical, and partly inspired by a conversation with a conservative friend, I decided to learn more about La Maverique by reading her autobiography Going Rogue. I borrowed it from the library because I was wary of supporting SARPAC. Mostly I wanted to see what she had to say, in context, in her own words, and free of CBS editing. I harbored hopes that I’d come away wowed and less afraid of her clout. That is not what happened. But I did learn a few things.
Just in case you don’t know what Sarah Palin looks like.
1. She is neat. If you told me about a friend of yours who grew up in Alaska, hunted caribou, played basketball, had worked on a fishing boat, and spent a year in Hawaii, I’d be like, “She sounds interesting!” And if we were good friends I’d say, “Maybe we could all have brunch some time?”
2. Sarah Palin makes The Little Engine That Could look like a quitter. I got a sneak preview of Palin’s can-do attitude while reading Game Change, which delves deep into the minutae of the campaign—like how she prepared for the vice-presidential debate by writing every topic under the sun onto index cards. I know I was supposed to think, “What an idiot!” But instead I was impressed by her fearlessness. If you told me I’d have to debate Joe Biden in front of millions of people on foreign policy, the economy, or health care, I’d cry. Then quit. Never in a million years would I think I can do this. And yet, after reading Going Rogue, I realize this is her way—from becoming a sports anchor to Mayor of Wasilla. The woman says bring it on to life.
3. I still do not understand her fiscal policy. To be fair, this was an autobiography, not a manifesto. That said, she writes a lot about her work in government and every one of her strategies seems to be summed up as “So they weren’t watching out for the people and I pushed for free markets.” Whatever the issue, rest assured she solved it with “free markets.” She is also for smaller government, but I don’t know why, specifically. But I did learn she thinks this: Today if you ask, “Why exactly do we need that federal program,” people will look at you as if you’re from Outer Space—or Alaska.
4. Outrage is exhausting! I’ve had a lot of outrage these days about the news, and it can get exhausting. I think “informed concern with amusement” is a better, more sustainable route. (Arguably the Daily Show has done this for a decade.) I am a worrier, so I would be lucky to sustain an amusement/concern ratio of 20/80. I look forward to experimenting with this approach. If I learn anything amazing, I will share it with you. Let’s assume I will not.
5. I’d recommend this for a book club. In fact, I wish mine had already started, because Going Rogue would be a fun group-read. It lends itself to many discussions, such as: what feminism means today (thanks to lines like, “On April 20, 1989, my life truly began. I became a mom”), or autobiography as fiction, or how television shapes perception, or it would just be a fun, ironic choice for a liberal. Unless irony is so 2006. Her description of what it was like to be on SNL or CBS was also fascinating.
Has anyone read this book besides me? I so want to discuss.