- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 24, 2009


By Sarah Palin

HarperCollins, $28.99, 413 pages

Reviewed by Wes Vernon

Reading Sarah Palin’s runaway best-seller “Going Rogue” merely reinforces conclusions as to why she, now a private citizen, remains a lightning rod: adoration among devoted fans of the rank-and-file citizenry and unbounded visceral hatred among the elites - most notably on the left, but also on the right from those who don’t want to be bumped off the “A” list of “upper crust” social invitations.

The former Alaska governor shares her views on every major issue including (but not limited to) taxation, spending, energy production, massive bailouts and homeland security.

She comes across as a world-class communicator with more political smarts than most. That encourages her following and scares the daylights out of her opponents.

It does not matter whether Mrs. Palin runs for president in 2012. It is not illogical to theorize that if she ever goes for the White House, it is more likely to be in 2016 (when she will be a mere 52), if for no other reason than that some in her family have problems right now and she wants to “be there” for them.

Either way - candidate, officeholder or private citizen - she is loved/feared precisely because she is an icon for all that is down-to-earth real, a sharp critic of the politics-as-usual culture that casts a shadow over Washington. Furthermore, she has the audacity to utilize her iconic status to be heard in the arena of public discourse - a one-woman tea partier.

Her sheer human emotion comes to the forefront when - eschewing the abortion route - she gives birth to a baby with Down syndrome and silently prays, “Please don’t let anything happen to this baby. I’m so in love with this child, please God, protect him!”

A smart woman with a basic-values mind-set frightens establishmentarians who fret that she might influence blue-collar citizens (union and non-union) and small business people - a new generation of “Reagan Democrats,” if you will.

That is also the profile of Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher whom Mrs. Palin admires. The long knives of candidate Barack Obama’s kept media were out for Joe, too, after he told the future president his “spread the wealth” mantra sounded like socialism.

Mrs. Palin writes that shortly thereafter, she saw hand-carried signs at her campaign rallies identifying “Peggy the Nurse,” “Tom the Real Estate Agent” and “Wendy the Waitress.”

Why wouldn’t one expect Mrs. Palin to be on the wrong end of a steady drumbeat of smears and harassment that transcended the contact sport that normally comes with the give and take of politics? Consider the enemies she has made.

Start with her home state. On Wasilla’s City Council, she rejected the inside-deal ways of the elder councilman who had mentored her, and then she ran for mayor, ousting the multi-term incumbent old enough to be her father.

As the chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (She declines to call herself “chairperson” or the inanimate object “chair,” which no doubt drives the politically correct speech police up the wall), she insisted on competitive bidding for the biggest projects. No small matter given that 85 percent of the state’s budget is built on petroleum-based energy revenues. Mrs. Palin also blew the whistle on a fellow commissioner - who doubled as the state Republican Party chairman - for conducting party business on commission time and in a manner that amounted to a conflict of interest.

Then she ousted incumbent Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski in the primary and went on to win the election. As Alaska’s governor, Mrs. Palin took on Big Oil and got the Alaskan natural gas pipeline off dead center, awarding a license to build and operate a means of transporting natural gas from the North Slope to the “Lower 48” through Canada.

She also jarred loose the locked leases the oil companies had sat on for years - apparently hanging on to them as an investment - which had put jobs and energy production on hold.

Along the way, she broke up some cozy little deals behind closed doors where the public interest was not always a top priority. At a 93 percent approval rating in the state, nobody liked Mrs. Palin except the people.

The bruised local feelings followed her into the national arena during her vice presidential bid, and bruised national feelings followed her back home after McCain-Palin lost.

One would expect the salons of Georgetown in Washington and Beverly Hills, Calif., to go ballistic when she writes, “If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?”

But President Obama’s in-the-tank media went to where she lives and relied on her enemies and certified cranks as authorities on all things Palin.

As an example, one “source” for the national media hatchet jobs was Andrew Halcro, a two-term Republican state legislator who garnered 9 percent of the vote as an independent in the three-way race for governor that Mrs. Palin won. He advocated handing the natural gasline project over to the Big Three oil companies instead of competition. Mr. Halcro did not reveal at the time that his brother-in-law was a top official in the London headquarters of BP.

Mrs. Palin had been warned that some McCain campaign operatives had planted post-election stories attacking her so as to deflect the finger of blame for their tin-ear handling of her.

But “Going Rogue” presents credible circumstantial evidence that both during and after her vice president candidacy, much of the attack trail led to the Obama campaign and later to the Obama White House via former Alaskan Peter Rouse, a senior Obama adviser with very close ties to some of Mrs. Palin’s home-state enemies.

Mrs. Palin would have been content to go back to Juneau and finish out her term, but instead had to fend off the Chicago-style attack machine following the “Rules for Radicals” recipe for the politics of personal destruction as laid out by the radical Saul Alinsky.

Her own mistakes? Yes, she cites for example her open display of annoyance with Katie Couric’s badgering. That TV interview was a set-up arranged by Nicolle Wallace, McCain staffer and former Couric colleague at CBS.

Count on it: Public discourse for years will include Mrs. Palin, cultural icon.

Wes Vernon is a Washington-based writer and veteran broadcast journalist.

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