Tuesday, April 19th, 2022

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin is back in the news, announcing that she will be a candidate for Alaska’s single congressional seat. Fifty candidates have signed up to run, but with Palin’s national statue, one would think that she would be the odds-on favorite.

I don’t know about you, but I actually read Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue that became a national best seller.  No, I did not shell out $28.99 to have Sarah talk me through a moose stew, but a friend gave me the book.  I never read it when it first came out, but over a recent quiet weekend, I took in the unique insights of this controversial lady. 

First of all, it was no surprise that Sarah didn’t actually write the book.  Few celebrities do these days.  Writing a book of personal experiences is a long and drawn-out labor of love.  I know well from my own undertaking.  The breezy Palin memoir was written by former Bush speech writer Lynn Vincent, but there are still enough “you betchas” in the book to give the lady’s special Alaska flavor.

Wanting to read all the juicy tidbits first, I immediately went to the index to get an idea of what Palin listed as being of particular importance.  But surprise!  There is no index in the book.  So no choice for me but to wade on through.  I did make a few page number notations so I could share with you, my loyal readers, some of the more relevant parts of the book. Key words that should wet your appetite for more.

First, a stop on page 102 is a “must read” just for the lyrical prose.  Here’s a tid bit: “As the soles of my shoes hit the soft ground, I pushed past tall cottonwood trees in a euphoric cadence, and meandered through willow branches that the moose munched on.”  Hemingway would have been impressed.

There were questions during her vice-presidential campaign of Palin’s reading habits.  Who can forget her non answer when Katie Couric asked her what she liked to read.  She cleared up any uncertainty by listing such titles as cookbooks (p. 15), Reader’s Digest (P.15), Sports Illustrated (P. 27), The Wonderful World of Oz (p. 16), and, my favorite, Ranger Rick (p. 27).

Then of course there is Palin’s vivid description on page 302 of praying in the shower with Rev. Rick Warren.  I kid you not.  OK, maybe I inferred too much.  She was in the shower when the California Evangelist called, so she pulled in the phone to join him in prayer.

And food?  She makes no bones about how she loves and cooks Alaskan edibles.  Her specialties include halibut tacos (p. 1), reindeer sausage (p. 1) and caribou lasagna (p. 218). How on the day she got married “we stopped by the Wendy’s drive-thru for our wedding dinner.” (p. 49).  Palin also makes it quite clear that “I love meat,” particularly “the seared fatty edges of a well-done steak.”  (p. 18).  She follows this homily with one of the book’s more deep and poignant quotes: “If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat? “(p. 133) Nuf said. 

She says that: “I love to write, but not about myself” (p. 409), although her book is almost entirely about herself. Hey, I’m not really knocking her for her effort, for she does have quite a story to tell.  After all, how many women have won a local beauty contest finishing runner-up in a state pageant, been a TV sports announcer, then gone on to be Mayor, governor, raising five children, be a vice presidential candidate of one of the two major parties, and helped in write her story that has become a huge bookstore hit?

In Norman Mailer’s best seller, “Advertisements for Myself,” he professes “a desire to inflict my casual opinions on a half-captive audience.”  Palin is in that number, and she was doing, on her book tour, what she does best:  draw crowds, create controversy, and stir up the conservative base.  She, like Mailer, has become a bestselling author and seems destined to make a lot of money.  But will this celebrity status transfer into political success?

I don’t think Sarah Palin is all that much of a light weight.  

Palin has two perceived problems in building a viable and growing political base.  First is her knack for self-pity; that fact that throughout her book, she plays the victim. The liberal press, in her words “the lame stream media” that is always out to get her.  Her opposition didn’t play fair, and she has many scapegoats for mistakes and foul-ups that invariably happen in any major campaign.  She rehashes numerous insults and indignities, portraying herself through the book as an abused woman. 

 To many readers, so what!  Right or wrong, that’s the price the populous extracts from their political candidates.  What was missing from the Palin narrative was the voice of a leader.  What did she learn from the campaign, and what would she do to address the major issues facing our country today.  She has lots of “former” titles in her past.  Where will she, and the country, be heading in the future?  A real opportunity missed.

Her second problem is how to be taken more seriously.  There is no doubt Palin has sealed her identity as a culture-wars lighting rod who can both inspire hysteria from liberals and adulation from conservatives.  But will celebrity status alone persuade non committed moderates to trust her with the reins of government?   So far, she seems to have chosen personality over substance.  Like Walter Mondale said back in 1988-where’s the beef?

So how would Sarah Palin fair in Louisiana?  Actually, quite well.  The deepest of the deep southern states shares much in common with Palin’s home state of Alaska.  Oil and gas production and seafood are major forces in driving the economy in both states.

 Sure she’s a bit quirky, but how about Louisiana women politicos?  Former Governor Kathleen Blanco cried on national television, and former Senator Mary Landrieu has been accused of prostituting herself by none other than former Palin radio host Rush Limbaugh before his death.  

I remember back well in in 2008 when Palin brought her indomitable book tour road show to my hometown of Baton Rouge with the flair and the chutzpah of a larger than life personality, which she just might be.  Security was tight at the local Books-A-Million, and the crowd of over 1000 was given strict instructions of what it could, and could not do. I lived at the time just a short walk from Books-A-Million, so I decided to mosey on over to check out the Sarah phenomena.

But before getting near the store entrance, I was confronted by a team of guards who spelled out the rules. There was a list of requirements for anyone who wanted Sarah’s autograph on her book. To be allowed admission to Palin’s book signing, you had to have a wristband.  But to get one, you had to show up two days before, on Sunday, and be one of the first 500 in line.  On book signing day, you had to show up one hour in advance, with a copy of Sarah’s book to be allowed to get in line. No photos or video of any kind were allowed, and all cameras and cell phones had to be checked outside the bookstore.

Look, this was a real labor of love to stand there for hours and go though all these procedures just to get a book signed.  The process was similar to visiting a relative in prison, or maybe waiting to see Kim Kardashian.  But as much as I would have liked to visit with Sarah, the hoops you had to go through were just a little too much for me.  So with some reluctance, I walked back home.

Now, like I said, I live just a stone’s through away from the bookstore. So when I got home, I decided to climb up on my roof. It’s flat, with a full view of the shopping center where the bookstore is located.  And then it dawned on me.  We have a common bond, this lady and I. Remember back during the campaign when she was asked about her foreign policy experience?  She said she could see Russia from her house.  Well guess what!  I can see Sarah from my house!  Pretty cool, huh?  “You betcha.”


Absolutely. Yup, yup.” –Sarah Palin after being asked by People magazine if she was ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency back in 2006.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

 Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at  Readers can also review books by Jim Brown and many others he has published by going to



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