AMERICA BY HEART: REFLECTIONS ON FAMILY, FAITH AND FLAG
By Sarah Palin
Harper, $25.99, 269 pages
Sarah Palin has read the writings of such intellectual giants as Milton Friedman, Alexis de Tocqueville and Whittaker Chambers and such historical leaders as Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
In “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and the Flag,” she cites the published letters between John and Abigail Adams in this nation’s infancy as well as the speech of Calvin Coolidge (probably one of America’s most underrated presidents) on the occasion of this nation’s 150th birthday.
Beyond that, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee - recently in USA Today - offered us her insight regarding Iran’s nuclear capabilities and ambitions.
Such displays of research and knowledge are not likely to prevent critics from disparaging her intellectual heft. Indeed, one is left to wonder if they would credit Mrs. Palin’s gravitas if she were to author her own comprehensive encyclopedia blindfolded and without notes or research material at hand.
The former Alaska governor’s second best-seller brims with historically significant details (many not widely known). Moreover, she discusses at length in well-ordered terminology who she is, what she believes, why she believes it and why she pursues her very public path whether or not she ultimately joins the presidential sweepstakes 2012.
As of this writing, it is likely that Mrs. Palin has not decided if she will seek the Republican nomination next year. Recall that she resigned as governor of Alaska only because her enemies, through frivolous lawsuits, made it impossible for her to govern. Such abuse of the legal system would be far more difficult if she were president.
As the author of this philosophical tell-all ponders a run next year, she writes about how she was badgered with questions as to how she would “balance” family life with White House responsibilities if she were to attain that higher station.
“They really don’t get it,” she writes. “I really don’t ‘balance’ anything. We [the family] do it together. And if we had won, we would have done the White House like we have done everything else as a team. And by the way, Ms. Reporter, I assume you’re asking all male candidates the same question.”
In addition to supporting Tea Party-like candidates in the 2010 primaries and general elections (with more successes than failures) Mrs. Palin explains what she sees as America’s greatness while also noting that, yes, we have had our failures, early slavery being the most conspicuous. But the author quotes Constitutional Convention delegate James Wilson as declaring at the time that the gathering had succeeded “in laying the groundwork for banishing slavery out of this country.”
George Washington, in addressing religious tolerance, congratulated Americans for creating a government “which gives to bigotry no sanction.”
The Palin view of America, as the political landscape has evolved in recent decades, is that it has become less a federal republic than a 50-state colony of Washington, D.C.
Even the most intimate details of family life are no longer beyond government reach, quite unlike in the days of our country’s birth, when, the author tells us, “The Founders took it for granted that strong families instilled in children the habits and disciplines necessary for those children to govern themselves in adulthood.”
John and Abigail would have been shocked, we’re told in “America by Heart,” if only they could imagine that 232 years hence, Washington would seek “to tax every aspect of our daily lives in the name of building a ‘green’ economy … that rides roughshod over the more responsive level of government, our state government … that is spending away our children’s and grandchildren’s patrimony … that … regards us as citizens of an all-powerful nanny state.” (Mrs. Palin wrote all this before our first lady intoned that when it comes to our kids’ diets, “We can’t just leave it to the parents.”)
Hardly an issue of the day is untouched in this book:
On Obamacare: “We didn’t want it, couldn’t afford it, and it made no sense, but Washington passed Obamacare anyway, raising our bills and limiting our freedom of choice.”
Government busybody contradictions on children: “… at the same time they are busy downplaying the importance of the traditional family, liberals are busy justifying expanding government in the name of ‘the children.’ “
On today’s self-described “women’s movement”: “Modern feminism’s idea of a ‘real’ woman isn’t so much a woman as a liberal.”
The old-line media and its assorted allies in the snobocracy have “done a job” on Mrs. Palin in two short years. Sudden celebrity imposes a heavier burden on conservative women than on most. In “America by Heart,” we learn about this woman’s inner strength to persevere, whatever lies ahead.
Wes Vernon is a Washington-based writer and veteran broadcast journalist.