Thursday, December 3, 2009
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
SARAH PALIN WOULD FIT IN WELL IN LOUISIANA!
Did you actually read Sarah Palin’s new book, Going Rouge? Sure it’s a national best seller. I had no plans to buy it. Nothing against Sarah. I really liked the Newsweek cover with Sarah in her jogging shorts. (She’s running-probably for President. Get it?) I wasn’t planning to shell out $28.99 to have Sarah talk me through a moose stew, but a friend gave me the book. So over a quiet Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I plowed through the numerous unique insights of this controversial lady.
First of all it was no surprise that Sarah didn’t actually write the book. Few celebrities do these days. Writing a book of personal experiences is a long and drawn out labor of love. I know well from my own undertaking. The breezy Palin memoir was written by former Bush speech writer Lynn Vincent, but there are still enough “you betchas” in the book to give the lady’s special Alaska flavor.
Wanting to read all the juicy tidbits first, I immediately went to the index to get an idea of what Palin listed as being of particular importance. But surprise! There is no index in the book. So no choice for me but to wade on through. I did make a few page number notations so I could share with you, my loyal readers, some of the more relevant parts of the book. Key words that should wet your appetite for more.
First, a stop on page 102 is a “must read” just for the lyrical prose. Here’s a tid bit: “As the soles of my shoes hit the soft ground, I pushed past tall cottonwood trees in a euphoric cadence, and meandered through willow branches that the moose munched on.” Hemingway would have been impressed.
There were questions during the campaign of Palin’s reading habits. Who can forget her non answer when Katie Couric asked her what she liked to read. She cleared up any uncertainty by listing such titles as cookbooks (p. 15), Reader’s Digest (P.15), Sports Illustrated (P. 27), The Wonderful World of Oz (p. 16), and, my favorite, Ranger Rick (p. 27).
Then of course there is Palin’s vivid description on page 302 of praying in the shower with Rev. Rick Warren. I kid you not. OK, maybe I inferred too much. She was in the shower when the California Evangelist called, so she pulled in the phone to join him in prayer.
And food? She makes no bones about how she loves and cooks Alaskan edibles. Her specialties include halibut tacos (p. 1), reindeer sausage (p. 1) and caribou lasagna (p. 218). How on the day she got married “we stopped by the Wendy’s drive-thru for our wedding dinner.” (p. 49). Palin also makes it quite clear that “I love meat,” particularly “the seared fatty edges of a well-done steak.” (p. 18). She follows this homily with one of the book’s more deep and poignant quotes: “If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat? “(p. 133) Nuff said.
She says that: “I love to write, but not about myself” (p. 409), although her book is almost entirely about herself. Hey, I’m not really knocking her for her effort, for she does have quite a story to tell. After all, how many women have won a local beauty contest finishing runner-up in a state pageant, been a TV sports announcer, then gone on to be Mayor, governor, raising five children, be a vice presidential candidate of one of the two major parties, and helped in write her story that has become a huge book store hit?
In Norman Mailer’s best seller, “Advertisements for Myself,” he professes “a desire to inflict my casual opinions on a half-captive audience.” Palin is in that number, and she is doing, on her book tour, what she does best: draw crowds, create controversy and stir up the conservative base. She, like Mailer, has become a bestselling author and seems destined to make a lot of money. But will this celebrity status transfer into political success?
I don’t think Sarah Palin is all that much of a light weight. Right now, she is the leading Republican for her parties’ nomination in 2012. This week’s Washington Post poll concludes that 18 % of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents cited her as the person most representative of the party’s core values, the highest percentage among prominent republican figures. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was at 1%. Sportsbook.Com lists Palin’s odd to get the party nomination at 7-2, with Mitt Romney second at 4-1, and Mike Huckabee coming in at 5-1. Jindal is listed right now at 6-1 odds for the nomination.
Palin has two perceived problems in building a viable and growing political base. First is her knack for self-pity; the fact that throughout her book, she plays the victim. The liberal press, in her words “the lame stream media” that is always out to get her. Her opposition didn’t play fair, and she has many scapegoats for mistakes and foul-ups that invariably happen in any major campaign. She rehashes numerous insults and indignities, portraying herself through the book as an abused woman.
To many readers, so what! Right or wrong, that’s the price the populous extracts from their national political candidates. What was missing from the Palin narrative was the voice of a leader. What did she learn from the campaign, and what would she do to address the major issues facing our country today. She has lots of “former” titles in her past. Where will she, and the country, be heading in the future? A real opportunity missed.
Her second problem is how to be to taken more seriously. There is no doubt Palin has sealed her identity as a culture-wars lighting rod who can both inspire hysteria from liberals and adulation from conservatives. But will celebrity status alone persuade non committed moderates to trust her with the reins of government? So far, she seems to have chosen personality over substance. Like Walter Mondale said back in 1988-where’s the beef?
So how would Sarah Palin fair in Louisiana? Actually, quite well. The deepest of the deep southern states shares much in common with Palin’s home state of Alaska. Oil and gas production and seafood are major forces in driving the economy in both states. Obama hardly scratched in gaining any reputable number of voters in Louisiana. And sure she’s a bit quirky, but how about Louisiana women politicos? Kathleen Blanco cried on national television, and Mary Landrieu has been accused of prostituting herself by none other than Palin shill Rush Limbaugh. So if Sarah is asked whether she can make political hay in Louisiana, her answer would be forthright and simple. “You betcha cher!”
“Absolutely. Yup, yup.” –Sarah Palin after being asked by People magazine if she was ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s weekly column appears in numerous newspapers and websites throughout the south. To read past columns going back to 2002, go to www.jimbrownla.com.