Thursday, November 19, 2009

Going Rogue

I like reading and I like politics, but if there ever was a book I know that would not make my Amazon shopping list in a million years, it's Sarah Palin's Going Rogue. I'm not even linking to it because, really, I don't want to make it any easier for any of you to buy it.

Anyway, in lieu of a real post on the book and Sarah Palin in general, I thought I would round up some of the funniest and damning critiques of this unabashedly batshit crazy woman.

Her nemesis, Andrew Sullivan:
"Going Rogue" is such a postmodern book that treating it as some kind of factual narrative to check (as I began to), or comparing its version of events with her previous versions of the same events (as I have), and comparing all those versions with what we know is empirical reality (so many lies, so little time) is just a dizzying task. The lies and truths and half-truths and the facts and non-facts are all blurred together in a pious puree of such ghastly prose that, in the end, the book can only really be read as a some kind of chapter in a cheap nineteenth century edition of "Lives of the Saints." But as autobiography.

It is a religious book, full of myths and parables. And yet it is also crafted politically, with every single "detail" of the narrative honed carefully for specific constituencies. It is also some kind of manifesto - but not in the usual sense of a collection of policy proposals. It is a manifesto for the imagined life of an imagined Sarah Palin as a leader for all those who identify with the image and background she relentlessly claims to represent.

In this, the book is emblematic of late degenerate Republicanism, which is based not on actual policies, but on slogans now so exhausted by over-use they retain no real meaning: free enterprise is great, God loves us all, America is fabulous, foreigners are suspect, we need to be tough, we can't dither, we must always cut taxes, government is bad, liberals are socialists, the media hates you, etc etc.

Yglesias, being his usual matter-of-fact self:

In addition to displaying clear ignorance, on the campaign trail last year Sarah Palin demonstrated a habit of lying.

A review of the book on Foreign Policy's website:
Ultimately, Going Rogue goes rogue as a political memoir, demonstrating what can only be described as a persistent and guileless lack of knowledge of even basic foreign-policy or domestic political issues. It is what we might have expected from Palin. And it is much less than anyone should expect of a candidate for one of the most powerful offices on Earth.

Steve Walt, on the stupidity of the notion that being a "hockey mom" qualifies one for office:
I doubt if Ms. Palin would let someone perform surgery on one of her children (or even repair her car) simply because they had parenting experience or an entertaining life story. No, she'd want to make sure that the person in question actually knew what they were doing. Virtually all of us normally insist on genuine expertise when we hire anyone to do an important job -- whether it's carpentry or a cardiac bypass -- yet millions of people in this country seem to think that the most momentous decisions about our collective future can be entrusted to people who are sublimely comfortable in their own ignorance.

Obsidian Wings, dealing with Palin's complaints against Newsweek for its selection of a cover photograph of Palin in running shorts and looking pin-up-ish...that Palin herself agreed to for another magazine a few weeks back:
The bottom line is that Palin's a clown. She doesn't get a pass because her chosen clown persona is stereotypically feminine.

She caricatures herself. Day in and day out. Good for Newsweek for pointing and laughing.

The story is about why Sarah Palin is a problem for the GOP. The picture answers the question. She's a problem because she's a freak with no judgment who regularly makes a spectacle of herself. Obviously, she's a potential problem for America because she's an incompetent leader who supports terrible policies.

The New York Times review of the book, and where it directs its most pointed criticism:

The most sustained and vehement barbs in this book are directed not at Democrats or liberals or the news media, but at the McCain campaign. The very campaign that plucked her out of Alaska, anointed her the Republican vice-presidential nominee and made her one of the most talked about women on the planet — someone who could command a reported $5 million advance for writing this book.

In what reads like payback for disparaging comments by John McCain’s aides about her after the ticket’s loss to Barack Obama, Ms. Palin depicts the McCain campaign as overscripted, defeatist, disorganized and dunderheaded — slow to shift focus from the Iraq war to the cratering economy, insufficiently tough on Mr. Obama and contradictory in its media strategy. She also claims that the campaign billed her nearly $50,000 for “having been vetted.” The vetting, which was widely criticized in the press as being cursory and rushed, was, she insisted, “thorough”: they knew “exactly what they’re getting.”

Although Ms. Palin writes that she is “proud of the senator” for being bold enough to put her on the ticket, some of her loudest complaints in this volume are directed at the McCain campaign’s chief strategist, Steve Schmidt. Mr. Schmidt, ironically enough, was one of the aides to most forcefully make the case for putting her on the ticket in the first place, arguing to Mr. McCain, as Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson reported in their recent book, “The Battle for America 2008,” that she would shake up the race and help him get his “reform mojo back.” Over the weekend McCain aides fired back at Ms. Palin: Mr. Schmidt was quoted on saying that charges about him were “all fiction.”

Back in 2008 Robert Draper reported in The New York Times Magazine that neither Mr. Schmidt nor Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, apparently saw Ms. Palin’s “lack of familiarity with major national or international issues as a serious liability,” and that Mr. McCain, a former Navy pilot, saw the idea of upending the chessboard as a maverick move.

All in all Ms. Palin emerges from “Going Rogue” as an eager player in the blame game, ungrateful to the McCain campaign for putting her on the national stage. As for the McCain campaign, it often feels like a desperate and cynical operation, willing to make a risky Hail Mary pass to try to score a tactical win, instead of making a considered judgment as to who might be genuinely qualified to sit a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

Nate Silver, arguing that she will definitely run in 2012:

Was quitting the Alaska governorship -- particularly in the sudden and disorganized way that Palin did it -- a decision characteristic of someone who carefully ponders all the facts and circumstances before jumping to a conclusion? Not hardly. Palin is impulsive, impatient, ambitious, thrill-seeking: not the type of politician to prudently wait for a better moment.

Slate, commenting on which American politician she most resembles:

According to an ABC News poll, only 38 percent of Americans consider her to be qualified to serve as president, and 60 percent consider her unqualified. (A CNN poll puts the qualified figure at 28 percent.) While many in the media made the mistake of underestimating her in the immediate aftermath of her selection as John McCain's running mate—she proved to have good political instincts and talent as a political performer—they are now overestimating her.

Indeed, the losing vice presidential candidate Palin most resembles is none other than Dan Quayle. Handsome, young, popular with the right-wing base, self-styled champion of family values, scourge of the "liberal media" and embodiment of Heartland America, Quayle likewise confounded observers in 1988 when Bush Sr. tapped him as his No. 2. (Only after Americans' prolonged exposure to George W. Bush did it become clear what Poppy Bush saw in Quayle.) Moreover, both Palin and Quayle, perhaps not coincidentally, enjoyed critical support from the journalist-operative Bill Kristol, whom Jacob Weisberg dubbed "Quayle's Brain" when he served as the vice president's chief of staff, and who helped push Palin onto the McCain team's radar screen. Quayle, too, we should recall, hit the best-seller list with his 1994 memoir, Standing Firm. And like Quayle, Palin seems destined—if she even seeks the presidency in 2012—to bow out early on, perhaps after the 2011 Iowa straw poll.

Matt Taibbi, calling her the country's first "WWE politician"

And Sarah Palin sells copies. She is the country’s first WWE politician — a cartoon combatant who inspires stadiums full of frustrated middle American followers who will cheer for her against whichever villain they trot out, be it Newsweek, Barack Obama, Katie Couric, Steve Schmidt, the Mad Russian, Randy Orton or whoever. Her followers will not know that she is the perfect patsy for our system, designed as it is to channel popular anger in any direction but a useful one, and to keep the public tied up endlessly in pointless media melees over meaningless nonsense (melees of the sort that develop organically around Palin everywhere she goes). Like George W. Bush, even Palin herself doesn’t know this, another reason she’s such a perfect political tool.

With Going Rogue, the 2012 reality show has already begun. As brainless political theater, she can’t be topped. It’s just too bad for conservatives that she happens to be unsustainably divisive and, as Newsweek points out, a really good bet to permanently marginalize the Republican party by reducing it to a pissed-off, semi-coherent mob that repulses independent voters on a visceral level. To paraphrase John Doman’s Deputy Ops Rawls character from The Wire, she’s “brilliant — fuckin’ shame it’s gonna end our careers, but still.”

I'll say this: I have never been as uniquely terrified of someone attaining office as I am of this woman. I'd sooner have Zaid Hamid and Shireen Mazari's love-child run Pakistan than this woman run America.

For those interested, my liveblogging post of the Palin-Biden debate last October.


takhalus said...

haha i love that Mazari, Zaid comment ..I'd still say it's worth a look at my defense I cite Lyndon Johnson and tents's the same argument I used in buying in the line of fire and reading friends not masters

Khalid said...

But Ahsan why is it that a person like Palin had a real chance at becoming a VP (with a very old president) and still has a real chance at becoming the presidential candidate for a major party in a country like US, but there seems to be little likelihood (at least much less than Palin), IMHO, of the said Hamid-Mazari love-child to be elected to top office in Pakistan?

Jaydev,India said...

You are cruel and brutal..and am appalled that media treats Sarah Palin as a bimbo. She is entitled to her views man..though I don't subscribe to hunting poor animals,gay marriage(not gay civil unions) and banning abortions..
She has a had a good political experience..and what does Obama
Foreign Policy experience..give me a break will ya..Obama is sitting on Afghan troop for a year..he just like to talk people to death..he should have got the job as a white house spokesperson or evangelist or something. Obama is a symptom of Europeanization of american politics..talking left and doing nothing. But Europeans are now turning extreme Denmark,France,UK etc..
Leadership is all about good instincts and taking the fall for the team..Obama is trying to shadow box with military and still blaming everything on Bush..

Anonymous said...

Jai Jai Jaydev. Please refrain from suffixing India to your name if you're going to continue making dumbass comments like these.

karachi khatmal said...

i have to agree with jaydev slightly here... i mean the american media is criticizing palin on all the right points, but where were they only a few years earlier, like in 2004, when dubya won again, or in 2003, when the case for the iraq war was being made? simply put, palin is quite easy to take apart, so they have all this vitroil for her. but if they really had bared their fangs on more vital and important issues, things would have been a lot different. and i would back jaydev's opinion on obama as well - i was a huge fan, but the guy's lack of imagination so far has been a bit disconcerting. the interview to al-arabiya was brilliant PR, but there has been no follow-up whatsoever. perhaps we are being hasty, but america is quite likely to veer sharply towards the right if obama can't pull off a miracle. and when they do make that right turn, palin would be somewhere in the picture and then some.

Jaydev,India said...

@anon 5:59 AM
"dumbass comments"??!!

Exactly my point..
Why a particular opinion is dumbass?
You could say factual inaccuracies,bombast,incoherent,
not-PC..all I am saying is..let ppl like Palin make her point..instead of ridiculing her..
I believe..on 5rs..we are allowed to advertise our stupidity as well..:-)

C.H. said...


Excellent comment! I couldn't agree more, my friend. I'm reading Palin's book now and so far, its been really good.

BTW, I just got back from India last week. It is a magical country and I'm missing it after 3 wonderful months.

Anonymous said...

@ Jaydev Last I checked this is America and we all have a right to voice our opinions.Ahsan is entitled to voice out his own opinion on the book just like everybody else.

karachi khatmal said...

Anon 9:14

i find it highly interesting how you managed to check, last time that is, that "this is America."

are you basing your claim on the fact that author is currently residing in the US, the content is about the US politics, and the blog is hosted by a site owned in the US?

because if so, you are ignoring the most important idea of all - the internet is a public space, or rather as some theorists contend, a 'super public' space. as such, opinions being discussed here are not according to the niceties or the legalities of the american state, but rather out of an etiquette which is as now developing. This etiquette is largely influenced by the fact that powerful imagined constructs like the nation state, nationality and national social values of hegemonic cultures do not particularly count for much on line, since they are consantly being challengeby other constructs from all over the world.

ergo, it doesn't really matter if you have managed to locate america on the internet, because on the internet, the borders have been redrawn.

in fact, based on what i can judge from frequenting this blog, what you have done here is agree with the author, and then lash out as soon as someone made an unpopular and contradictory statement. I believe you did this in order to remain in the majority point of view.

Consider this - your basic contributions have been about upholding two seperate national identities and displaying an utter lack of creativity - dumbass, what a put down. That fact only confirms my suspicion that the reason you have said nothing about palin, or the us media or us politics is because you are a member of the bandwagon brigade.

up till and as of this moment, the internet is free, so i suggest you try the same for your mind.

Ahsan said...


No. No way. Never. Sorry.


To be fair, I don't think Palin has a realistic shot at being Prez. But it's interesting, we (as Pakistanis) might be incredibly stupid at the ballot box, but we're not outright crazy. I mean the Pakistan equivalent of Palin is someone like Qazi Hussain, and well, we all know how successful he's been.


Um, I don't know what to say to that. Palin is entitled to her views, certainly, but she is not entitled to her own facts. She makes her own reality and then lives in it. She is insane. And stupid. I don't know what else to say.


Agree with you for the most part, but I think the GOP revival will be based more on people like Romney than Palin.

Anonymous said...

@palin lovers

this thing about letting idiots have there say in the name of accepting freedom of speech is letting far too much of their idiocy getting celebrated. so just today palin says she's fit to be president since she's got common sense and does not have the "elitist ivy league spinelessness". you tell me what that means and convince me it is not dangerous to let loose this stupid lump of protoplasm in the white house as the commander in chief of the most deadly armed forces in the world.

C.H. said...

"tell me what that means and convince me it is not dangerous to let loose this stupid lump of protoplasm in the white house as the commander in chief of the most deadly armed forces in the world."


Some might take that as a point...but remember, we have already let loose in the White House a man who has *less* executive experience than Palin and who adheres to radical beliefs that put down the very country he is suppose to be leading. From his INSANE pastor to his wife describing America as "mean", this guy has ushered in an era that most patriotic Americans never thought possible. Now he's running around the world "apologizing" left and right to people whom we owe no apology. Europe? Please...they have shown nothing but weakness on the world stage and continue to broil in economic stagnation. Obama has no clue what to do on Afghanistan...sitting idly by preparing his Thanksgiving dinner as the American death toll soars and....on the other side of the border, the Taliban incinerate Pakistani civilians in audacious terror strikes that have brought the state to the brink. Worst of all, he repeatedly, despite the humiliating snubs, continues his efforts to "welcome the Islamic Republic of Iran" back into the international community, even as the tyrannical Islamic Republic's own people reject its legitimacy.

If we manage to pull through this increasingly frightening time (I mean all of us), Palin might not seem so "inexperienced" after all.

Ahsan said...

Annnnnd THAT'S the American right today, ladies and gents.

I stopped reading after the "America has nothing to apologize for" line. Which is funny because (a) it's untrue, and (b) Obama hasn't actually apologized to anyone (to "apologize" means to say "sorry" in some respect, I'd like to see any speech in which he or anyone in the administration said that). Instead he has only (at times) admitted mistakes in the U.S.'s conduct in the past with other countries.

The U.S. making mistakes in its foreign policy in the past? Pfft. Never.

C.H. said...

Ha, I *never* said America shouldn't apologize when necessary. I said that America has nothing to apologize to Europe for.

If you want America to apologize, lets start with an apology for refusing to come to the aid of the Iraqi people in 1991 after GW 41 promised he would.

We should also apologize to Afghans for doing nothing after the Soviets left Afghanistan...after we promised to help them rebuild during all those years.

But Obama doesn't care about that. He'd rather focus on Europe, a continent we have rebuilt twice.

Butters said...

I don't like how people pick on Sarah Palin. I don't think she was fit to be VP, but it's not because she doesn't please the high-falutin' NYT reading crowd.

Elitism is a real problem, IMO.

C.H. said...

I'm not all that eager to see Palin run the country or even serve as VP, but if Obama can do it, she might not be as bad as the elitists make her out to be.

karachi khatmal said...


i would have thought george w bush set the standard for low expectations and idiots running the oval office, not obama

Ahsan said...

Where did this "elitist" meme get picked up from? Excuse me, it's not "elitist" to desire that your politicians know something about the world. I challenge you to go back and watch her interview with Katie Couric. She knew nothing about international affairs -- NOTHING. She knew nothing about the Supreme Court. She knew nothing about economic policy. She couldn't even name what newspapers she read. Her only claims to fame were (a) being relatively attractive for her age, (b) being completely unknown and fresh, (c) having a big family, and (d) being from Alaska. Read her interviews and watch her interviews and tell me I'm wrong. Go on, I'm waiting.

This has nothing to do with "experience" or "elitism". She simply doesn't know shit. I repeat: she does not know SHIT. And I think we know what happened last time the U.S. trusted a complete know-nothing fool with the White House.

It is NOT unfair to pick on her and her complete lack of worldliness. Sometimes America gives us such stupidity in its leaders that we get used to it, and forget how serious this is. So I ask you to please take a moment and think about what it means for a potential President to think that they have a grasp on Russian affairs because they live in Alaska. And for a veteran politician to have no idea -- literally, none -- on how the world works.

If it is "elitist" to want the world's most powerful people to know something about it, then please, by all means, call me an elitist.

karachi khatmal said...


I disagree... the analogy that is apt here is that of meera's - in both cases, palin's and meera's, the criticism that is aimed at them is quite justified. but what is elitist is the fact that such critical appraisal only comes through when it is to do with people like them, whose backgrounds and sense of self are at odds with what we cherish and hold up high. meera is from heera mandi (allegedly) and palin is a dumb hick (not so allegedly)

how come the american media never went after the people that make up the neo-con cabal, such as rumsfeld, wolfowitz, cheney, who were never ripped apart the way palin is. and lets be honest, they were equally culpable and idiotic and far far more hypocritical than she will ever be. the picture of rummy with saddam from the 80s, the issue of cheney's firms minting money in iraq - there are like a million things that the new york times et al never went after with the same bare-fanged approach they reserve for sarah.

i mean i think she's an absolute idiot, but this is the same country which RE-elected bush. so she's really not that unqualified to be president compared to precedent. and i never saw the media take to even bush the way they have with her. and thats why palin-bashing by the media is elitist until they display the same level of incisiveness with other, equally idiotic characters.

C.H. said...

Ahsan, you don't need to "challenge" me to watch any of her interviews, because I have seen them. I have also seen some of her more recent interviews, and honestly, I can't say I was thrilled, although I thought she made some very good points about what is happening in our government today. That doesn't mean she gets my vote though.

To quote you...

"And I think we know what happened last time the U.S. trusted a complete know-nothing fool with the White House"

Yep, and we still don't know what he's going to do the next 3 years. OK, to be serious, I know that was an insult directed at Bush...but last I checked, unemployment was way down under Bush before the 2006 elections (around 4 percent, if I remember correctly), the oil and housing markets were stable, and the stock market soared to unprecedented levels. The dems found their way into the majority because of anger over Iraq, an issue which they were all too eager to put front and spite of this, Bush still found a way to outsmart them and best them in the end with the success of the surge and the Iraqi Army, leaving the calls for a "new direction" to go down in flames. He doesn't seem like a "know-nothing" to me.

Its unfair to attack Palin if you're someone who fawns over Obama because you like his charisma and end up voting for him to "make history". All politicians deserve a vetting. I'd like to ask you, did you see her debate with Joe Biden? The guy was up there creating his own version of history, for god's sake...saying that he was in the Senate when "we kicked Hezbollah out of Southern Lebanon", whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. He also mixed up the Constitution and came off as a condescending fool...and this guy is supposed to be a "foreign policy" expert.

You say that America has given the world "stupidity" in its leaders. All countries have, sadly. I'm concerned if Pakistanis are most worried about Sarah Palin's lack of intelligence...perhaps they should focus more on people like Rehman Malik, a politician on the world stage who is stupid enough to believe that India is actually backing the Taliban! Now THAT is an example of someone who does not understand how the world works.

Love her or hate her, Sarah Palin did reform Alaskan politics, call out her own party on corruption (we don't see much of this in Washington DC) and put forth energy policies that have proved to be essential to sustaining economic growth all the way down to the industrial midwest. That, in my opinion, makes her *at least* even with Barack Obama in contending for the White House...but I would MUCH rather see someone like Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney challenge the Big O in 2012.

Ahsan said...


Yes, the MSM didn't go after the Bushies like they do after Palin. That's their problem, not mine. You're right, both sets of characters were incredibly dumb, and said incredibly dumb things and did incredibly dumb things. My own view is that the reaction to Palin has been *conditioned* by the failed Bush presidency. People now know what a complete buffoon looks like in a position of real power, and they would like to avoid those mistakes again.

But just because the MSM fucked up with Bush doesn't mean *I* can't point out how stupid Palin is.


If you're honestly going to write comments here by pointing to George Bush's record on the *economy* as a strength, then I must simply stand aside and applaud you. There's nothing I can say in retort if you believe that the administration that led the US into one extended war that should've been over five years ago, one war that never should have started in the first place, and the greatest housing and financial crises in almost a century, is an administration whose record deserves to be defended...well, frankly I don't know what to say. You win by default.

Comparing Sarah Palin to either Biden or Obama is a joke. They have both made serious mistakes, and will continue to do so no doubt, but Palin is, for lack of a better word, stupid. Really, really stupid. I don't know how else to say this. She is a sportscaster who went through five colleges. Obama spent almost his entire adult life at three of the top ten universities in the world (Columbia as an undergrad, Harvard Law and then U Chicago as a constitutional law prof). I know being intelligent is unpopular in America these days, so I suppose Obama would've been better off being a beer-drinking hick from Alabama, but trust me when I say that the rest of the world values an American leader capable of constructing real sentences to the Bushes and Palins of the world. Just go out on a limb and trust me on this.

Obama's decisions on Afghanistan scare me, as do his administration's too-tight embrace of the banking and financial industry. These are serious policy differences of which I have written on a lot (well, at least the Afghanistan thing). But unlike Palin, he is an adult. For you to claim that Palin is as qualified as Obama...I mean jeez. And this has NOTHING to do with charisma. We're not 11 yr old girls watching the Jonas brothers here.

Lastly, if you really think we don't point out the flaws and stupidity of Pakistani leaders on this blog, you clearly haven't been reading us for more than 2 days.

C.H. said...

"We're not 11 yr old girls watching the Jonas brothers here."

lol, Chris Mathews and Keith Olbermann of MSNBC seemed like a couple of them during the DNC debate last year, when Mathews described the "tingly feeling" going up his leg. I thought that was a dumb comment...then he said your not an American if Obama's words don't inspire you. This is the type of mantra I heard from Obama supporters, who have a strong concentration here in the San Francisco Bay Area, all of last year.

I don't want to prolong this exchange, but your pointing to Obama's education as justification for his presidency falls apart. Why? Because Bush also attended and graduated from two high profile colleges (Yale and Harvard), which you seemingly ignore, instead claiming that he has the IQ of two pencil erasers. Is education only supposed to be applied to politicians you like?

And I didn't understand what you said about Obama being better off as a "beer drinking hick". Is that what you think most Republicans are? If you do, you really don't know much about America, even if you live here.

Ahsan said...

I can't be held responsible for what Olbermann and Matthews say and do. Need I remind you of the Rich Lowry "starbursts" line?

The big difference between Bush and Obama is that Bush got in those schools b/c of who his dad was. End of. And being highly educated is not in and of itself a qualification for presidency -- I'm getting a PhD -- and have little doubt that I would be one of the worst leaders in any country ever seen. But Palin is an idiot. I can't take seriously anyone who argues otherwise.

As for beer drinking hicks, I don't think that's what Republican politicians are, but the GOP base seems to privilege anti-intellectualism. It appears that the smarter and more highly-educated you are, the more strange you seem to the Republican base. This is why folksy people like Bush and Palin sell so well with this crowd, and educated and articulate people like Obama and Kerry are deemed sissies, womanly, and not "real Americans".

You're right, I too do not wish to carry this discussion on too much further. I will give you the last word; I am shutting up after this comment.

C.H. said...

"And being highly educated is not in and of itself a qualification for presidency"

I rest my case.

Anonymous said...

just for being a president that told the average american kid to work harder to compete with the chinese and indians, the Oba-man should get his 8 years.