Hold on to your hats. Sarah Palin’s book has actually garnered a positive review from San Francisco liberal democrat Sandra Tsing Loh, and in Salon no less. Tsing Loh concedes that Palin’s opus has “surprising charms.”
Now hold your horses, you snarky, lefty, NPR-listening, New York Times-subscribing readers of Salon. I haven’t jumped ship to declare Sarah Palin herself “great.” I’m from California, after all; I am not a creationist, I am not pro-life, I have never shot a moose. Nor is my culinary specialty an Alaskan dish called “moose chili.” Here on the Left Coast, along with our hummus, we prefer “turkey chili,” which is perhaps less gamey and lower in fat but in the end, I ask you, is it really more humane? (Who killed the turkey? Was it a person or a corporation? This Trader Joe’s we speak of — is he union? Is his name actually “Joe”? And what is his relation to Big Oil’s manipulation of the rising price of Bristol Bay canned fishery salmon to 27 cents a pound?) These are the complexities one ponders at night while falling asleep under the gristly if at times oddly tasty caribou stew that is Sarah Palin’s new 400-plus-page memoir….
(W)hat’s refreshing is that Palin seems unafraid to express herself, warts and all — informal campaign motto: “Heels on! Gloves off!” — and the book just goes where it goes. Much has already been made of her freewheeling critiques, not just of Democrats but also of Republican Party insiders and McCain 2008 campaign managers, particularly in the gloomy waning days of the run. (“Schmidt leveled his eyes at me. ‘We don’t have the money Obama does and the numbers don’t look good. We’ve got to change things up.’ I AGREE. I was eager to hear a new strategy. ‘So,’ he continued, ‘headquarters is flying in a nutritionist.'” Ba-dump-bump!) She is forthcoming enough about her personal failings. Belying her shellacked outer shell, more reminiscent to me of Anita Bryant than Tina Fey, Palin confesses a not-ready-for-prime-time horror at Trig’s Down syndrome diagnosis and relates at least one fairly satisfying campaign trail fight with husband Todd. As opposed to Bush’s post-Yale reinvention of himself as a Texas cowboy, Palin doesn’t seem to be making this folksy stuff up. And really, who would want to? While courting Palin as a teen, Todd gave her “gold nugget earrings”; with only one phone line in the house, she and Todd yapped at night on their back porches on fishing boat radios, until they realized every commercial trucker trundling through town could hear them; the wedding rings were each $35, the post-nuptial dinner was at Wendy’s. All this in the town of Wasilla, which, due to stratospheric sales of this particular product, Wal-Mart has deemed “the Duct Tape capital of the world.”
In Palin’s “Little House on the Tundra” (her own coinage), the very state of Alaska seems to have its own sound, its own language, its own quaint patois. There are so many more colorful sayings than that “pit bull with lipstick” quip! Things grow “faster than fireweed in July”; bench warming during sports games is known as “riding the pine.”
There is the truly startling tale of their neighbor Doc. A private bush pilot, he was electrocuted and fell off a ladder while hand-draping fluorescent flagging over power lines so he could more safely land his Citabria at home. Never one to give up, after the accident Doc “retrained himself to be a left-handed, one-armed dentist”! Writes Palin of her huntin’ dad (who is known for palming balmy, just-removed moose eyeballs and warming fish eggs in his mouth), “So a lot of what Alaskans ate, we raised or hunted: moose, caribou, ptarmigan, and ducks. Dad and his friends became their own small-game taxidermists. Even today, my parents’ living room looks like a natural history museum. And when an earthquake hits, Dad can tell the magnitude by how fast the tail wags on the stuffed cougar.” As Frontier literature, I believe “Going Rogue” compares favorably to the Natty Bumpo stories of James Fenimore Cooper. And who wants to argue with me?
Indeed, by the end of this book, I thought, Never mind the hundreds of thousands of reasons the fiery Republican femme fatale is hated in, for instance, my oh-so-blue state of California. Honestly, a fair amount of what makes Sarah Palin weird is the very same stuff that makes Alaska weird.
Read the whole thing.
I can think of one prominent blogger who is going to have a cow when he reads this.