A Review of "Going Rogue" by Sarah Palin

Monday, February 22, 2010

Given the unprecedented zealous, world-wide media attention to a U.S. Vice-Presidential candidate and realizing that the subject of Sarah Palin is like coconut--very bipolar--you either love her or hate her, I encourage anyone with an open-mind to read her book. If you are beholden to her ideals, then you'll love the book. If you are married to utmost disdain, don't waste your time.

For an open-minded person or non-Americans who are curious, you may not come to endear Sarah or agree with her political beliefs, but non-biased readers may appreciate the insider pressure-cooker tactics and strategy of a national presidential campaign, her courage and conviction to take on big oil and her own party, and her strength as a woman, wife, and mother when faced with a life or death decision!

A lesson for me: YOU CAN SEE RUSSIA FROM ALASKA!!! [Read on for more].

While I had my doubts about her, I have to say a majority of them vanished after reading her book.

A rumor to clear up before I begin the review:

One complaint I heard at the watercooler was "She didn't even write the book. Someone ghostwrote the book". This is NOT uncommon. Many politicians and celebrities and power businesspersons have either ghostwriters or SUPER editors. I once freelanced as a ghostwriter for a CEO. When you're beyond busy with break-neck speed schedules and lofty goals, you find resources. Even CEO's don't write their own content for company-wide communications. It's either a PR person or legal attorney. Bottomline, the "author" approves the book. It's still written in Sarah's folksy tone and vocabulary. She remained true to her self.

Next, after watching highlights of interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, I instinctively suspected Sara had not received formal media training on how to handle national media. I walked in her shoes but in smaller heels and know her struggles. Dealing with media in Alaska as Mayor of Wasilla and later as Governor is nowhere near the shark tank of the national media. I choked too in my media interviews--and that was the training segment.

Did I enjoy the book? I did for many reasons.

First the book paints a picture of her childhood and upbringing and shows pictures throughout her adolescence. How many children go hunting early morning before school? Hunting was not about sport but about sustenance. The closest store was an hour away. They hunted for survival. Just reading this part and her frugal habits, you immediately know that later charges of her spending obscene amounts on suits was just poor reporting to discredit her. The book continues to unfold with how she met her husband and the small business they ran together.
(While I was impressed with Barak and Michelle Obama's no-frills clothes shopping choices such as J Crew, of all the politicians in my lifetime, Sarah Palin trumps them all in FISCAL CONSERVATIVENESS. Besides, what politician gives up a private jet and sells it on e-Bay of his/her own volition?!). I don't think I would have.

Like most of the books I read, this is about a woman of strength. Unbelievable strength. How she juggled a family of four and now five children while running for mayor, then governor and won by a landslide with bare bones funds is remarkable. She ran all her campaigns as basic grassroots. One favorite part when campaigning on her own--in the dead of winter, pitch black, knocking door to door, towing her children in a red wagon. Now that is determination and commitment!

She never waivered in her commitment to her family and children even when others in the political realm frowned upon her for "running back to Alaska" so she could say goodbye to her son before his deployment to Iraq. Sarah stuck to her priorities.

Just when you wonder how a mother can juggle heavyweight responsibilities, she learns that she is pregnant with her fifth child AND that her expectant son has Down's Syndrome. Sarah's emotional struggle will drive you to happy tears.

The clips of the interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric were uncomfortable for me to watch and relive in her book. Sarah shares her thought process of what was going through her mind. I could definitely relate! You more or less discuss the interview with the station beforehand. You think you're going in one direction and the reporters will try to derail you. Sarah clearly was not media trained on how to get back on track. She wanted to start with accomplishments in Alaska. When Sarah was asked about the Bush Doctrine, my immediate response was "which one?". Political analyst and commentator George Will had the same response on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolous.

But I can see how the average person may judge her as plain stupid. What was she thinking in her response when asked about US foreign policy towards Russia? Certainly with national security and foreign policy experts like Randy Scheunemann and Steve Biegun on the campaign staff, they would have tested Sarah's knowledge and ensured she was up to snuff. Again it's cause to wonder what was happening behind the scenes.

and worse... As often happens in the media world, that dirty act of "editing". News should report a "balanced" story. But often it's slanted. I recall when I was interviewed as spokesperson for my employer during a crisis. The final interview was "edited" and most of my direct responses were left out which left doubt about my employer's integrity. It couldn't be further from the truth. The same happened to Sarah. It happens everyday to more than just politicians.

Sarah, quite knowledgeable in clean energy and oil production in her own right, was ready to discuss the issue which speaks to one of the tenets of the campaign by both camps, less dependence on foreign oil. She never had that chance during the interviews.

But the title of the book is repeated a few times for the harsh criticism by the omninous "headquarters" that lashed at her for "going rogue" or off script. In other words, when she was honest and failed to speak word-for-word from a script like a Hollywood movie actor, she was scolded. "Going rogue" was the eigth deadly sin and the wrath of HQ was boiling to mercurial levels.

A few times Sarah acknowledges her limitations, and some mistakes and weaknesses. When first asked about her knowledge of the Iraq war by a McCain foreign policy adviser, her response was "I know as much as the average American".

Before being picked as McCain's VP, Sarah admits to criticizing Hillary Clinton for the perception of whining when Clinton publicly pointed out some of the media's favoritism.

Still before criticizing her [Clinton] on this point, I should have walked a mile in her shoes. I can see now that she had every right to call the media on biased treatment that ended up affecting her candidacy. In fact, I should have applauded her because she was right--Democrats deserved to see a fairer picture of what they were getting into before they cast their primary votes.

Should Secretary Clinton and I ever sit down over a cup of coffee, I know that we will fundamentally disagree on many issues, but my hat is off to her hard work on the 2008 campaign trail. Compared to the guys she squared off against, a lot of her supporters think she proved what Margaret Thatcher proclaimed: "If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman."

Sarah Palin is no doubt a new kind of politician. She's a homegrown leader clearly not shaped by the Washington style of politics. She morally struggled with offering scripted "nonanswers" to questions rather than just answering them directly as ordered by "headquarters". She offers a few examples in the book. When I compare any number of televised debates of past presidential candidates versus Sarah's speeches in Alaska, or debates she sparred in her home state, I do not believe she is lying on this point.

While not an eloquent orator like Reagan, or Clinton or Obama, throughout her book Sarah remains true to her style of speaking plainly, even if it's Alaska folksy. But in our materialistic world, we put a lot of stock in pretty packages and Hollywood, especially young people. When Tina Fey (of Saturday Night Live) did the impersonation of Sarah and said "I can see Russia from my house" (which Sarah NEVER said), viewers and voters remember that line more than the actual one. Actually Sarah impersonated Tina Fey long before the SNL skits at Halloween time.

Many voters listened to Hollywood and never did their homework. This was a flashback to my own community where residents voted for candidates with fantastical stories rather than research the facts. Or given the facts they ignore it! People love a good story, whether it's factual or grossly false. Sad but true.

In reading another blogger's review of the book, he spewed venom in every sentence with no reasoning to support them. In his least lethal comment, he referred to her "Sesame-street cadence" way of talking. This proves my point-- it's all about the packaging. Does no one care about her track record and accomplishments?

It gets worse, one "atheist blogger" claims that Jesus really hates Palin and shows a painting of Jesus giving her the finger. Where does this profound hatred stem from? She's not a hardened criminal! The ugly world of politics. It was equally wrong of media to hint Barak Obama was associated with terrorists because of his middle name. I admire politicians' strength to forge ahead despite the inherent barrage of distorted news reporting. If you give up, you never win.

Another blogger stated Sarah was "relitigating the entire campaign". OK--it's her book, her chance to share her side of the story that we didn't see or hear because she was under strict script scrutiny (say that three times fast).

As I said before, putting aside any differences in fundamental or political beliefs, one can admire her as a person, a mother. Here is one fair review by a proclaimed liberal.

For a review by a "third party" here is one by Peter Durward Harris from England.

Oh yes, it's fact you can see Russia from Alaska! I did not know that and admit I thought Sarah was trying to make a joke and fell flat on her face. Click here for a geography lesson. Looks like I'm the ignorant one on that point.

When I heard and now re-read the relentless, acrimonious attacks against Sarah and her family immediately AFTER the election, it was obvious that senior McCain staffers were bitter for losing and wanted to square blame on Sarah. Later she, and her staff learned of the Democrats (including current Obama staffers) who were behind the onslaught of investigations even after she lost the election! She was cleared of all ethics investigations but it cost her family dearly and even her own staff had to pay for attorneys out of their pockets. (It's Alaska law). But that was the goal--to bankrupt her financially and emotionally. A colossal waste of time for the Alaskan people. It's no wonder Sarah Palin resigned.

How did she remain kryptonite strong and teflon resilient? Much like Reagan? Most of us would have crumbled by this point, or checked into an insane asylum. Where does she find the strength? A woman secure in herself as a wife, mother and leader, her incredible discipline and work ethic, AND her solid faith and belief in God's goodness! Yes those are admirable qualities. Plus she's a runner! Ok, now I am jealous! She's in better shape than me. Good for her!

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW on Amazon for incredibly low price of $13.00!

If you read the book, please share your review. Click on "Comments" below.

Going Rogue: An American Life

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