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This Is How Sincere I Am

By Brenia | Books | May 28, 2010 |

By Brenia | Books | May 28, 2010 |

A few of my friends thought it was odd for me to read Going Rogue: An American Life and my boyfriend was even a bit upset with me for “supporting” her and her message by renting it from the library. No, I didn’t pick up Sarah Palin’s memoir because I suddenly became a different person. I’ve always been curious by the thoughts of people with whom I starkly disagree. I’m not so much curious about Sarah Palin as I am curious as to why people are curious about her. She’s much loved by conservative moms everywhere who think they can relate to her. She’s much loved by the media because she is so easy to pick on, having a personality that’s almost cartoonish in nature. But politically, is she all that important? She just doesn’t seem that impressive a politician to me. Of course, Palin makes it a point not to look like a typical politician. She makes it a strong point. If there is anything I took away from Sarah Palin’s memoir, it’s that I doubt her sincerity more than I had before.

Sarah Palin’s memoir can be split into two parts that are entirely different in tone and language. There is the first half that deals with her life before the McCain-Palin campaign and the second half about her life during and shortly after the campaign. The first half is plagued by Palin’s well-known colloquialisms. I don’t know how much of this book was written by Palin or a ghost writer, but you can hear her voice in the words. The problem with all the idioms and simple language isn’t that it makes her sound dumb. Sarah Palin is not dumb; she’s just not an intellectual. There is a difference. The problem with the language was that it was annoying. Plus, I didn’t always understand all of her idioms and she didn’t bother to explain. (She does explain the word “mandate,” though.) When she does use “big words” she seems apologetic about it. I’ve never known anyone to try so hard to seem unpretentious. She isn’t even that successful. After bringing up the kitchen table so many times, she just sounds insincere. Besides, you can be unpretentious and still be arrogant and self-righteous. It was frustrating reading about someone who thought so highly of her own ideals. The words “common sense” must have been on every other page. I really think Sarah Palin believes that every idea she has in life is “common sense” and if anyone differs, they’re the weird one. A typical section reads that she once made some policy or other and while criticized for it later, she knew that she’d done the right thing. I kind of wanted to send her off to a distant and very different culture than hers so that she could learn that people can have different ideals and values and not be wrong, that her way isn’t always, necessarily, the right way.

The first half also has a lot of Alaska imagery and facts peppered throughout. I should mention that I lived in Anchorage from January 2005 until April of 2008, so I greatly appreciated the Alaska imagery. This means I also lived in Anchorage during Palin’s reign as governor. I will never say that Sarah Palin was a bad governor for Alaska (although her claims of being a tiny unknown grassroots candidate that miraculously won over the big guys is a bit ridiculous). Palin’s personality and ideas are very typical for Alaska. Alaskans are very independent. In a lot of ways, Alaska really is the last frontier. You can tell by the language Alaskans use for the rest of the country. They use terms like “the lower 48″ or “the outside.” I remember walking through one of the malls in Anchorage and I saw this man arguing with the security guards about his gun. “Why can’t I be here with my gun? It’s my right to be able to have my gun!” Obviously, this guy doesn’t represent the entire state — he’s kind of an extreme example of someone who doesn’t like the idea of the government being any kind of authority. Alaska’s ideals and needs are very specific to Alaska. Therefore, Alaskan politics are not always the same as national politics. Palin constantly says that she is on the people’s side, but she doesn’t seem to understand that the nation holds a lot of different sides to be on. It was all right reading about her life, but whenever she would bring up politics in that first half, she just came off as naive and self-righteous.

Despite the fact that Palin largely dropped the Palinisms in the second half of the memoir, after getting a few pages in, I found myself missing the first half. It was over two hundred pages of complaining. Now, I understand that maybe the media was pretty harsh towards Palin and her family. The media has a tendency to pretty evil now and again. But Palin went beyond just being ticked at the bad press she got during the presidential campaign. I’m talking all out self-pitying victimhood here. Somehow, she seemed to know every single mean thing anyone in the world ever said about her EVER and she needed to mention all of it. Palin had someone to blame every time she looked less than awesome in front of the world. She is especially unhappy with Katie Couric. Poor Katie Couric. She didn’t do anything wrong. I watched those interviews. Ms. Couric wasn’t condescending or badgering, as Palin insists. Palin was asked pretty straight forward questions and if she choked, she only has herself to blame. Palin went on and on about those interviews and about how it was all Couric’s fault. Couric apparently personally edited the interviews to make Palin look bad. Ugh. She was also pretty vindictive of the McCain campaign staffers. She accused the senior staffers of being controlling and mean and of cussing in front of her young children. I know that a lot of people have come out and said that this is all pure fiction, but I couldn’t tell you who is telling the truth. It’s all hearsay, really. I’m sure the campaign was genuinely a tough time in her life and I would have loved to have heard about it in a less self-serving way. I mean, reading about a presidential campaign could have been really interesting, but instead she whined.

Sarah Palin did inject some politics in there at the end. It was the only part where she sounded like the politician she probably is. I still don’t agree with Sarah Palin politically or philosophically. I’m not even sure I have any more insight into her as a person after reading her memoir. It just seemed a bit insincere. Not all of it. There were parts where I felt like I was hearing from Sarah Palin, the human, but not most of it. Most of the memoir sounded like she was trying to sell this every day, hockey mom vision of herself. To what end, I’m not sure. I suppose, we’ll just have to wait and see.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. For more of Brenia’s reviews, check out Brenia’s blog.

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