I stuck my head out of the window of my black Jetta and shifted into fifth after cresting Thompson Pass. It was winter 2005. The girls were finally asleep, and I needed another gulp of ten-below-zero air to keep from joining them. I fumbled with the CD changer, loaded the kids’ Toby Keith, and cranked up ‘How Do You Like Me Now?!’Here’s a hint: It leads off Chapter Three in Sarah Palin’s 400-page book, “Going Rogue.”
It was the middle of the night, and I had just emptied my last sugar-free Red Bull.
Some might describe this writing style as “Gonzo,” but I think most would agree it is "different." Sarah Palin takes us into new territory. She has published an original work about Sex and Politics.
The “Sex” part needs a bit of explanation. Her book is NOT about the Metrosexual / Maureen Dowd & Rachel Maddow / Fish & Bicycles idea of sex. Rather, it covers the Sexuality / Children / Responsibility paradigm that is well understood by many Americans.
In the first half of the book, we learn that Sarah was born in Sandpoint, Idaho in 1964 to Chuck and Sally Heath. She has an older brother and sister (Chuck Jr. and Heather), as well as a younger sister (Molly). Her parents moved to Skagway, Alaska shortly after she was born. Her father was a schoolteacher, taking jobs during the summer tending bar and working on the Alaska Railroad.
In 1969, the family took up residence in a duplex fifteen miles outside of Anchorage. Growing up, Sarah played sports and worked various odd jobs. She and her siblings took pride in paying their own way.
Sarah met Todd Palin during her senior year in high school. They both graduated in 1982 from Wasilla High School. Todd continued to work in the commercial fishing industry. Sarah went on to college, working to pay her way, and graduated in five years from the University of Idaho (where her grandmother had studied).
On August 29, 1988 at the age of 24, she eloped with Todd. They were married by a civil magistrate in Palmer, Alaska. Eight months later, on April 20, 1989, her first son was born: Track CJ Palin. Track’s name came from the name of her mother’s father (Clement James “CJ” Sheehan), and the fact that Track was born in the spring and it was track season!
Their second child was to be named Tad, a combination of Todd and Track. The baby would have been born a year after the birth of Track, but Sarah had a miscarriage.
On October 18, 1990, Bristol was born, named after Bristol Bay in Alaska where Todd had his commercial fishing operation. Willow Bianca Faye Palin, their second daughter, was born on July 5, 1994.
Sarah suffered a second miscarriage after the birth of Willow, but then on March 19, 2001 the couple’s youngest daughter was born: Piper Indi Grace Palin. Piper was named after the type of airplane flown by Todd (a private pilot) and for Independence and God’s Grace.
In 2008, at the age of 43, Sarah Palin gave birth to her fifth child, Trig Paxson Van Palin. Trig was born with Down syndrome (an extra copy of chromosome 21).
The book devotes much of its text to children and family matters. If you are looking for a book strictly about politics, this isn’t it. You read about Sarah nursing Willow while cutting an ad at the KMBQ radio station. You read about the everyday people with whom she had contact. You gradually come to understand that this is a mother’s story. It’s about Sarah’s life and the events that have shaped it, told from a mother’s perspective.
But enough about kids and family. The politics of the story is what intrigues us.
The first two hundred pages of the book cover Sarah Palin’s introduction to politics. She confronts Alaska’s politicians who ask “What’s in it for me and the political party I represent?” She counters with the question, “What’s best for the land and the people that elected us?” In Alaska, the idea of an elected official working for the people catches on. After a failed bid to become Lieutenant Governor in 2002, Sarah Palin is elected Governor of the state of Alaska in 2006.
The second half of the book is the story of Governor Palin coping with our anti-Republican culture. In August of 2008 she receives a call on her cell phone from Senator John McCain. He is interested in having her be his running mate. The details of the vetting process and the “palace intrigue” make for interesting reading. The adaptation that is necessary for her to meet the expectations of political handlers and the national press is also a fun read. In the space of just over two months, Governor Palin becomes a significant presence on our political landscape. It’s hard to comprehend that so much changed in such a short period of time.
What exactly changed? We now have a strong political figure in our midst that carries a message of “Country First.” Sarah Palin cherishes the principles of our founding fathers and puts the question before us, “Are these principles worth keeping?”
It will be an interesting battle. Here in Colorado, we have people similar to those who work in the commercial fishing operations of Alaska. In Colorado, they are our ranchers and farmers. John Fielder, a noted landscape photographer, just published a book titled “Ranches of Colorado”. Within the book are Mr. Fielder’s photographs as well as stories of ranches and their caretakers. (The stories were written by James B. Meadow, who tragically died from injuries suffered in a biking accident in 2009.)
One of the ranches studied is the Beatty Canyon Ranch in southeastern Colorado. The story of the individuals working the ranch makes you think of the people who work the waters off Alaska. They are not the type of folks who worry about how they relate to the latest fad. They are concerned with how they relate to the land and the people that work it.
These people want to protect their lifestyle. They stay quietly “under the radar” until they find their land and/or lifestyle threatened. When that happens, you might want to get out of the way. These people are passionate and intense. (Read Fouad Ajami from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies if you’d like a taste of the sentiment that can be aroused.)
There is an awakening of sorts going on in our country right now. Sarah Palin has shown that her politics appeal to this type of sentiment. The question is whether the emotions she captured in Alaska will extend into our “Lower 48.”
I’m betting on the Arctic Fox.
Linked by LeftCoastRebel! There must be something about the word "Sex" in a title. Thanks, Tim.
Linked by Texas for Sarah Palin. It's always nice to have Josh Painter on your side.