Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dissing Sarah

I'm sort of into Sarah Palin. Not that I think she would make a good President.  I just love the story, the giant leaps from small town mayor to Alaska Governor, to Vice-Presidential candidate.  It's all very Horatio Alger, very Frank Capra. 
I've recently read two books about her.  One is Blind Allegiance: a Memoir of Our Time, by Frank Bailey.  Bailey was her campaign manager when she ran for Governor, a long-time friend and ally, an evangelical Christian and true believer.  The other is Joe McGinniss' The Rogue:  Searching for the real Sarah Palin. 
The books have similar agendas, to warn America about the dangers inherent in a Sarah Palin presidency.  Bailey once admired her; he was lied to and mistreated and fired, and his book is about his story, his humiliation at her hands.  McGinniss is the journalist who, rather famously, rented the house next door to hers in Wasilla.  She overreacted so tremendously to his presence there--which admittedly could have been annoying if they had ever interacted at all in any way-- that he basically repeats every bit of gossip anyone would tell him about her. 
Both books tell us that she's a nasty bit of work.  She's vindictive, she's thin-skinned, she's mean-spirited, she was bad at her job as governor.  Her marriage is rocky, her parenting skills suspect, her past history carefully whitewashed.  Fine, they don't like her.  Bailey doesn't like her because she treated him badly and McGinniss doesn't like her because she went sort of berserk when he moved in next door.  Well, if someone was writing a hatchet job book about me and moved in to the house next door, I wouldn't care for it either. On the other hand, the previous next-door tenants used the house as a meth lab, and Sarah never complained about that so . . ..
I tend to discount McGinniss.  He uses all these anonymous quotes, which means he's basically repeating gossip.  Lots of people in Wasilla can't stand her.  Others love her.  He doesn't interview them, because he moved in next door, which means her friends wouldn't talk to him.  His big revelation--she had an affair with basketball star Glen Rice--is no big deal.  He also doesn't think Trig--her youngest, Downs Syndrome baby--is hers.  He follows up best he can on the whole faked pregnancy allegation, and concludes--well, he doesn't so much conclude as insinuate.  Trig's not hers.  She bought a baby so she could be a heroine for pro-lifers by carrying a Downs Syndrome child to term. The alternative, McGinniss suggests, is that her whole story about the birth--she was in Dallas, her water broke, but she gave her speech and then flew back to Alaska to her regular doctor--is true, in which case she was guilty of incredibly poor judgment on her part and medical malpractice on her doctor's part. 
Me, I loathe conspiracy theories.  Until some hard evidence surfaces, I'll go with poor judgment and bad doctoring. 
Lots of people adore Sarah Palin and lots of people loathe her, and I'm in the middle.  I think she was in way over her head trying to run a state, and that she's pretty thin-skinned.  I think she's more shrewd than bright, and was woefully ill-prepared for national politics.  I also think she has amazing political charisma, sharp instincts, and a real knack for image politics.  She should never be President, and never will be.  She's got the job right now she was born for.  She hosts a TV show.  It's pretty entertaining. That's enough. 

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