My take on “Going Rogue”:
The first thing anyone who is considering purchasing this book seeking to learn about Sarah Palin is that this is 400+ pages. Fundamentally, this book is an autobiography. It discusses politics, but it’s not a “political book”. It is an autobiography, yet it is NOTHING like a traditional political autobiography, in terms of frankness and breadth of topics. I believe it should be reviewed in this light and context.
As an autobiography, it’s a damn good one. It takes you on a chronological ride straight from her earliest childhood memories straight through to today. I have to give Governor Palin credit — she gives you the good, bad, and ugly of her early life, her decision to marry Todd, and the roller-coaster ride of raising her children while trying to pursue a political career. She isn’t the least bit afraid to discuss some of the most intimate family matters of her life and the struggles they have gone through. I have NEVER seen a politician open up like this, except for those who have truly retired from political life, and it’s clear Palin has left the door open for a future run.
I can’t stress enough how much detail she goes into in all aspects of her life. For example, her discussion of her tenure as Governor of Alaska doesn’t begin until page 124. Her discussion of the McCain campaign and life on the road as part of the McCain-Palin ticket doesn’t begin until page 209. If you’re a hardcore political junkie just wanting to get the inside dirt on the campaign, you might as well start there, but you’re doing yourself a disservice.
The greatest insight you will get out of “Going Rogue” is the first 124 pages. Palin tells you in her own words the psychology of her family’s decision to move to Alaska, what life in Alaska was like in those years, how huge outdoor life and physical fitness is to her (it practically defines her). If you want to understand who Palin really is beyond what the lamestream media or even a cursory review of her life on sites such as Wikipedia’s or the occasional TV interview, you really need to read pages 1-124.
Self-reliance and faith are tenets that ring throughout the book. One thing that strikes you throughout the book is that she has lived a unique life. It’s down-to-earth, rugged, and Alaskan. If you don’t get what “Alaskan” is, you will after reading this book. It IS a very different state from the other 49, and it was widely denigrated during the campaign. If nothing else, her explanation of what life is like there, and it how helps shape and mold people who live there, is a real gift to readers in the lower 48.
One surprise I learned is that she was recruited to run for local office. This was not something she initially sought. Further, and this is truly an ironic part, she was recruited by a group looking for young, progressive (though not in the purely ideological sense of the word) prospects to seek seats on the Wasilla City Council. Reading between the lines, it seems clear that this group that was ostensibly seeking “reform” candidates for the Council were actually looking for a group of young, naive individuals that, once elected, could be pressured to support “the way things have always been done” by the Mayor and his allies on the Council. Electing Palin backfired on them. She proceeded to go against the grain — a key aspect of her political career that helped boost her meteoric rise in politics. If you want to know the real dirt on local politics, this is a must-read book. For all the differences in Alaska, I suspect the challenges Palin faced in Wasilla are no different than those that could be found anywhere else in small-town America.
As far as policy goes: This is a woman we need to be listening to on energy issues. It would not be hyperbole in the least to state that Sarah Palin is an expert on energy matters. Her tenure as Governor of Alaska was as successful as any I’ve seen, but particularly in energy. Palin takes you on a step-by-step journey of how she managed to take on Big Oil and actually push them to the Righton production matters. Palin and her team devised a methodology to force major oil executives to drill on areas they had rights to, but had wanted to sit on those lands for investment purposes. She also helped lead an effort to more fairly help the state of Alaska share in the domestic oil revenues it produced, while at the same time giving incentives to boost production. Against many skeptics, she succeeded in these goals beyond some of her own Administration’s predictions.
For conservatives, one of the most frustrating elements of following politics is watching our own leaders always attempt to find at least one issue (sometimes more) try to carve out a position that deviates from traditional Conservatism, in some effort to demonstrate their “independence” from ideology. Palin does this, as well, but only in such a way that she ends up being to the Right of where standard Conservatism is today. Her taking on of Big Oil is exactly such a way. By the time Palin left office, the people of Alaska were getting more money out of that industry, yet oil industries were producing more than ever before and generating greater revenue. She is a real problem solver, and we certainly need more of those in Washington, DC.
Rush Limbaugh caught much heat for saying “This is the most substantive policy book I’ve read in a long time.” This was as much a “media tweak” as anything else, because the standard line on Palin (and this book) is that its devoid in “substance”. “Substance”, of course, is defined by the mainstream media as “stating one’s disagreement with conservatives”.
Make no mistake: The real reason Palin is hated so much by the press and the Left (is there a difference?) today is that she IS the Real Deal. She does NOT deviate from the conservative line. Ever. She really DID carry a baby to term with Down’s Syndrome. She really DOES potentially provide a powerful role model to young girls today. She really DOES send a message that you CAN raise a family, have a successful career, adhere to traditional family values, AND believe in conservatism and the pro-life position. She really DOES have a strong husband that fully supports her career and she’s content and happy with just being his loyal and faithful wife and raising their children, if her political career is over.
Palin is as real as it gets. She walks the walk, as well as talks the talk. To this extent, she reminds me alot of then-President Bush and the criticism he received about discussing his faith so openly in 2000 and 2004.
Is Palin an ideologue? Yes, but she may be one of the few (perhaps only) politician who can turn that into an advantage. She believes in using EVERY aspect of conservatism to find solutions. When thinking through policy, she analyzes based on fact, but uses conservatism from start to finish in finding the methodology towards a solution. I mean, you really do have to love a politician with the balls guts to say (paraphrasing) “Emergency rooms can’t turn poor people away.” (This actually is federal law) when asked about what to do with providing poor people health care. Of course, we don’t want poor people using the ER for basic health care needs as they do now, but Palin isn’t afraid to accept the status quo over a government-run solution.
It really is a pity that we do not have enough politicians that don’t carve out a “starting point”, when trying to solve problems, by using a firm, principled conservative stance. Palin does. Thus, combining that fact and her telegenic appearance, her down-home folksy style, and genuine American life, she is a threat. “Going Rogue” explains why, in a deeper level than we’ve ever seen before.
The political end of the book is as “tell-all” as any book I’ve ever read. Nothing is spared and you get her straight views on every aspect of the McCain campaign, as she lived it. The Couric interview, Palin’s personal emails being hacked, her debate with Joe Biden, and the final chaotic weeks of the campaign are all hashed out in an unvarnished, “don’t give a damn what anyone thinks” manner. It satisfies those of you who are dying to know all the juicy details of what went on. It is truly striking how much centralized control there was from McCain headquarters in DC over the campaign, yet how chaotic and and at times, stupid, the McCain campaign looked over late September and all of October. If nothing else, I believe this book exposes how, from 2012, the “top-down, classical, centralized” style of a Presidential campaign is now gone forever.
Does Sarah Palin have a political future? As I said at the beginning of this review, she has left the door open. If you were to force a prediction from me as of the time stamp of this review, my deepest hunch is that she will never seek elective office again, but will ultimately launch an effort to selectively endorse candidates that she believes are as genuinely conservative as herself.
In summary, buy this book. There’s really something in it for everyone from the diehard Palin fan, to those curious about her, and even to those Palin opponents who THINK they know what she’s all about. Like Sarah Palin herself, this book breaks all the rules of the modern-day political autobiography. Dare I say the book itself has gone rogue?