Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Going Rogue

Can you guess the source of this quote?

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?!’

It was the middle of the night, and I had just emptied my last sugar-free Red Bull.
Here’s a hint: It leads off Chapter Three in Sarah Palin’s 400-page book, “Going Rogue.”

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.

UPDATE 1/08/2010:
Linked by LeftCoastRebel!  There must be something about the word "Sex" in a title.  Thanks, Tim.

UPDATE 1/16/2010:
Linked by Texas for Sarah Palin.  It's always nice to have Josh Painter on your side.


  1. It's ironic that republicans have done more do damage ranchers in Colorado and fisherman on the Pacific coast than the Democrats.

  2. Anonymous:

    When you get a chance, could you please post the worst case example you have of Republicans damaging ranchers and fishermen? That would help me better understand the irony.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Great post Howard! I'll point readers to this.

  4. I was born in the city, haven't hunted in about 30 years, go fishing about once a year, and live in one of the most democrat of democrat states, but I've served in the Army, love American history, yes, even the "bad" parts, and can totally identify with the way Sarah Palin thinks. I've read her book, if she runs, I will volunteer to work on her campaign, I will donate money, and I will vote for her, and bring as many people with me as possible. She is not the "perfect" candidate, but she's the next best thing.

  5. I live in Siskiyou County, California. Without question, it is the environmentalists and Democrats from outside the area who have and still are being highly destructive of the ranchers and fishermen of the area. That is one major reason why the area is overwhelmimgly Republican. It is why small towns like Etna and Yreka can support active Tea Party events. To paraphrase Joe Wilson, "Anonymous", you lie!

  6. Glenn:

    Thanks for the comment. However, I have the same request that I asked of Anonymous: If you have a moment, please cite the best example of the behavior you have witnessed. That would be helpful to the discussion.

  7. "MCSD: New flood plain map may hurt the citizens of McCloud
    "By David Smith
    "Fri., Jan. 15, 2010, 10:03 AM PST
    "'We feel that the costs of flood insurance will break the people of McCloud', said Tim Dickinson of the McCloud Community Services District (MCSD) Tuesday as he and MCSD Vice President Anne Simons went before the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors seeking an injunction against a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) directive that will likely drastically alter the flood plain delineation map of the community of McCloud."

    I simply went to the Siskiyou Daily News, where almost every day there is evidence of "outside" interference with the local communities. These are not Republicans interferring. It's Federal bureaucrats.

  8. Howard, I don't mean to divert attention from your excellent post about "Going Rogue". As it is, Sarah Palin is the most heard name at the local Tea Parties. She connects. My earlier response was clearly not the best example as you requested, but simply the most recent of a continuous stream. Reckon that's why I "reacted" to "Anonymous". It's quite daunting when the "opponent" to the local folks is the Federal government, with surprise directives which amount to law and the locals are left with relatively short periods of time to respond to directives based on "studies" by hired "experts/professionals", all of which costs a lot of money. When the EPA effectively closed down the logging industry in this area, a significant source of income was lost. Now, the EPA, BLM, et al, are attempting to totally control all water resources in the area (taking out four dams in the upper Klamath - to "save the salmon"), which, if they succeed, could very well result in the long run in the demise of the ranching in the area, the last major source of income here. At that point, the environmentalists will have succeeded in "returning the area to nature". We already have cougar sighted in town from time to time - maybe they'll re-introduce wolves and griz, just to complete the cycle. Sarcasm? Yes...

  9. Glenn:

    Thanks for the follow-up. I grew up on a farm in Oregon (Roseburg), and spent some time in Crescent City as a kid. I think if you've experienced the rural lifestyle, you have a fairly strong sense of the difference between being a caretaker of the land and using it as a prop for political purposes.

    I think that's part of the Sarah Palin appeal: She and Todd know what it is like to work the land/sea for a living. Many Americans feel a sense of kinship with that.