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“Going Rogue” by Sarah Palin: An Opportunity Squandered?

November 23, 2009

“Going Rogue”: An Opportunity Squandered?

By Michael S. Smith II, Contributing Editor

Last year, 2008 Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain made a special campaign stop in the Palmetto State, picking up some gifts from several hundred S.C.GOPers who crowded the Columbia Convention Center late in the day on May 9. Before the visit’s main event kicked off I was asked to participate in a small by-invitation-only cocktail reception hosted to honor the candidate. During this reception one of the higher profile attendees asked McCain who his running mate would most likely resemble. “Anybody but Lindsey Graham,” he replied, jocularly jabbing at his honorary host while smiling in the direction of Jenny Sanford, whose husband, an old friend of Graham’s, was then thought to be a prospective “veep” pick. Four months later the veracity of that subtly sarcastic remark became all too apparent as a high-heeled, lip-glossed, children-in-tow star was born at the 2008 National Republican Convention.

“Going Rogue” is former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin’s highly-anticipated opus. Penned with assistance from ghostwriter Lynn Vincent, the book is obviously intended to augment Palin’s brand equity cultivation efforts of late, portraying Palin in a light the McCain campaign did not. Oddly, its writer(s) did not seize this as an opportunity to issue many unique or new policy prescriptions. Then again, the dearth of gravitas inherent in the work’s politically-focused commentary is rather fitting for a politician who is casting herself as a folksy fixture on the pop-political stage part of this so-called era of Obama – upon which substance, as a function of job qualifications, is clearly taking a backseat to form.

In small part, “Going Rogue” is written to right the not-so-favorable records set about Palin by several former McCain-Palin campaign staffers, staffers alleged to have misdirected their frustrations over their campaign’s loss into attacks on Palin. At the same time, the work provides a few new intimate tidbits of personal information that chronicle Palin’s family life, her political career, along with, in what some politicos might point to as disappointingly general terms, her “conservative” political views. Perhaps most exciting for her fans: The book’s stump-speech-like conclusion could be construed as a signal Palin is planning to formalize her own bid for the presidency.

“Going Rogue” is not likely to end up on lists of required readings for any political science courses offered at a college or university near you. Yet this has little to do with Palin’s political persuasions not aligning with those of so many prominent liberal-leaning academics. The manuscript is simply too light on politics in terms of Palin’s purveyance of anything all that noteworthy on the forward-thinking policy front.

Nevertheless, the book, with its initial print run of more than one million copies, is certainly elevating Sarah Palin’s profile. Still, the question that is mounting in the minds of many onlookers: Is this all too much – and in many respects too little – too early in the game, Mrs. Palin? As demonstrated by John McCain, launching your campaign efforts years before your prospective primary opponents do doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be left with enough wind in your sails to win a general election. As demonstrated by polls regarding the president’s fast-declining favorability, there is also such a thing as overexposure.

GOING ROGUE: An American Life. By Sarah Palin. HarperCollins. 413 pages. $28.99.

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