Thursday, December 29, 2011

Useful Gossip

In reading The Rogue: Searching For the Real Sarah Palin by Joe McGinniss, I have discovered that I love certain types of gossip.  McGinniss' sources for the book, to the person, have some serious issues with Palin. Some seem to engage, at times, in the same "10th grade mean girl" mentality of which Palin is accused.  For example, several sources claim that Palin was an absent and neglectful mother.  One supported the contention by saying that she never showed up at her son's hockey games, notwithstanding her holding herself out as the ultimate "hockey mom" ferrying her son all the time to games all over the place. As a "soccer mom" myself, I spent most of my weekends for a number of years going to soccer games all over the place,  sometimes leaving at ridiculous hours of the morning to get to places two hours away.  But I am not sure I could tell you which parents never showed up although I am sure some did not.  In a more extreme example, one Palin acquaintance said that Palin's children were "dirty"; no one ever cleaned out their ears.  I started to think about whether I regularly cleaned my children's ears.  I certainly bathed them every day but ears?  As I read about people complaining about Palin's children, I felt as if no one in Alaska must ever get out the high school mentality.

The book does however provide new information to me about Palin that is quite disturbing, even given my already low opinion of her.  Here are some things I have learned:

  1. Palin had a history of quitting jobs.  Before she quit as Governor of Alaska, she quit the job she had with the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, an appointment she received for her political support of the Governor of Alaska in 2003. Although she made it look like she was resigning to protest ethical problems with one of her fellow commissioners, McGinniss reports that Palin did not like the long commute from Wasilla to Anchorage.
  2. Palin was an uber-evangelical Christian.  She belonged to an Assemblies of God church in Wasilla that was a "rogue" church itself.  Palin believes in witches as a manifestation of evil, and a GPS like system for tracking evil in the world.  She also believes that the earth is only 6000 years old and men walked with the dinosaurs.
  3. Palin's son Track, as a teenager, had trouble with the law and used drugs, including cocaine, and did not graduate from high school.  Sarah and Todd forced him into the Army,  turning him from a political problem into an asset.  I stupidly thought that his going into the army was voluntary and grew out of a crazy love of country nurtured in an ultraconservative family.
  4. The circumstances surrounding the birth of her son Trig have been construed to show that Palin may not be his birth mother.  She apparently did not look pregnant, even on the plane trip back from Texas to Alaska where she gave birth over a day after her amniotic fluid reportedly started to leak during the night.  McGinniss says that he interviewed doctors about her and Todd's actions in response to the leaking fluid and they opined that if she were pregnant those actions would have been gross negligence.  Rather than go to the hospital, Palin gave a speech in the afternoon, flew from Dallas to Seattle , waited for hours in the Seattle airport to continue her flight to Anchorage and then drove to Wasilla where she finally went to the hospital.
  5. Palin was racist as a young woman and acted on her beliefs when she became governor by firing people of color in her administration.  
Janet Maslin dismisses McGinniss' book by saying that most of it is "dated, petty and easily available to anyone with Internet access".  However, she must have followed the nooks and crannies of information about Palin more than I, or anyone I know, did.  I am inclined to agree with McGinniss that mainstream media avoided these issues when Palin was running for national office in 2008 and continue to avoid them today.  So as far as I am concerned, if you push aside the gossipy tone of the book, the book does a public service by bringing more of this information about Palin into the mainstream.  If I wasn't scared before, now I am even more scared.

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