A review of Going Rogue: An American Life, by Sarah Palin

By Daniel Oliver

The American Spectator

February 2010 issue

What’s not to like about Sarah Palin — for a conservative or a Republican? Her autobiography makes it abundantly clear why the liberal United Nations-hugging big-government socialist fascist gangster capitalist atheist God-hating running dogs don’t like her. But conservatives?

What are the three most important traits a conservative should look for in a president? A belief in God. A belief in a strong national defense. And a belief in the importance of the Tenth Amendment.

The Tenth Amendment?! Holy cow! (No, “holy cow” is not a multicultural sop to our friends in India. It’s an old-fashioned expression meaning “Wow!”)

Gov. Palin believes in God. So did the Founding Fathers, though not necessarily in precisely the way Gov. Palin does. Thomas Jefferson wrote: “God who gave us life gave us liberty.” And also: “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?” The U.S. has strayed far from that belief, or at least from the ability to express that belief in public, in no small part because of Supreme Court rulings so beloved by the liberal United Nations-hugging big-government socialist fascist gangster capitalist atheist God-hating running dogs. Gov. Palin’s belief in God is palpable—palpable being the operative word because periodically she holds her children’s hands and prays.

There are other ways for believers to behave, of course. Crusty old-line Episcopalians, as well as old-fashioned Roman Catholics, tend not to like even to “do” the peace in church. But they shouldn’t hold other Christians’ practices against them. And if they have to choose between the aforementioned running dogs and Gov. Palin, it shouldn’t be difficult.

Why is a belief in God important? Because, as Chesterton is said to have expressed it, ”When men stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything.” Including progress (by which they mean the perfectibility of man), the wisdom of the state, and the need for big government (as the means by which the wise state, guided by a multiplicity of advisers who went to Harvard and Yale, can bring about the perfection of man). Palin: “The role of government is not to perfect us, but to protect us.”

Protecting us is important for obvious reasons. And providing for the common defense is in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, along with establishing justice and ensuring domestic tranquility. Having a strong defense does not necessarily mean supporting the war in either Iraq or Afghanistan. But it does mean having a defense budget large enough to make our enemies quake. Palin: “America must remain the strongest nation in the world in order to remain free.” At the peak of the Reagan rearming in 1986 our expenditures on defense were 6.2 percent of GDP. They are now 4.8 percent, and are projected to go down to 3 percent by 2019. Where is Gov. Palin (the proud mother of a son who went off to serve his country in Iraq) when we need her?

The Tenth Amendment is out of favor these days, but not with Gov. Palin. Writing about her campaign for governor of Alaska, she says, “…I had great respect for the need for state government to preserve locally enacted policies. Likewise, I believed that national leaders have a responsibility to respect the Tenth Amendment and keep their hands off the states.” And later: “Local government is best able to prioritize services and projects. That’s the basis of the Tenth Amendment….”

Gov. Palin is not the only Tenth Amendment enthusiast around. There are a couple of Tenth Amendment stirrings in the “lower 48,” as Alaskans describe the rest of the states. In Arizona, there is a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution to limit the power of the federal government to restrict “a person’s freedom of choice of private health care systems or private plans of any type.” In Montana, there is proposed legislation that declares that any weapon or round of ammunition made in Montana and remaining within state borders “is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.” (Roll over, Wickard v. Filburn!).

Gov. Palin believes in the Tenth Amendment and (or is it because?) she also believes in personal responsibility. In her first speech to the people of Alaska as governor, she said, “Take responsibility for your family and for your futures. Don’t think you need government to take care of all needs and to make your decision for you. More government isn’t the answer because you have ability, because you are Alaskans, and you live in a land that God, with incredible benevolence, decided to overwhelmingly bless.” She was reminding them that their liberties are a gift from God. Amen.

THIS BOOK IS ABOUT PUBLIC POLICY and campaigning, but it is also an intensely personal book— by, it has to be said, an amazing woman. Gov. Palin describes her childhood: striving at school, the physical pain of excelling at sports, learning to give her all and never to give up. “I realized that my gift was determination and resolve, and I have relied on it ever since.” She writes about working, working hard, taking time off between semesters at college so she could afford the tuition. She had jobs by the dozens. Scut jobs, not soft-lighted musak-muffled office jobs. She worked on the “slime line,” slicing open fish bellies. You don’t have to work the slime line to get to Heaven, but it helps you relate to the millions of hard-working Americans.

She was part tomboy when she was young, but there were limits. Early one morning she went hunting with her father and he bagged a moose and began field-dressing it. “Here, hold these,” her father said. “‘I want to show them to my science class today.’” “I looked down to see the moose’s eyeballs lying in his palm.…when he saw me wrinkle my nose and shake my head slightly, he set them aside.” No wonder she wasn’t scared of Katie Couric.

If the story of Gov. Palin’s discovering that her fifth child had Down syndrome doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, you’re reading the wrong magazine. Sheasked her husband if he had the same question she had: Why us? “He looked genuinely surprised by my question and responded calmly, ‘Why not us?’ ” Sarah Palin is a mother extraordinaire, and she writes, “There is no greater service than mothering.”

Are there other traits a president should have? Of course. Some executive ability helps. Let’s see: who had more executive experience going into the last election, Gov. Palin or Sen. Obama? Palin describes rolling Exxon Mobil in negotiating the billion- dollar oil deal for Alaska. Exxon Mobil happens to be the largest company in the world. And while we’re on the topic, who was our most recent compulsively executive presidential whiz kid? Right. Jimmy Carter. Case closed.

What about intelligence? Sure, intelligence helps—maybe. Quick, name one presidential decision made in the last 16 years, i.e., during the Clinton (Yale, Yale, Oral Roberts) and Bush (Yale, Harvard) years that you think was either right because the president was intelligent or wrong because he was not intelligent enough. Okay, take your time (oh, and sorry, I meant oral sex, not Oral Roberts).

Time’s up. Get the point? And remember what they said about President Reagan, who went to—how do you express a sneer in writing?—Eureka College? Now he’s widely regarded as the best president of the 20th century (Roosevelt only won a war; Reagan won a war and saved the economy).

Gov. Palin has a lot to say about the campaign: gracious words for Sen. McCain, and for some of the staff assigned to her. But clearly there was gross incompetence, followed by Super Bowl-sized blamegaming by the grossly incompetent. When Palin tried to be Palin and do things off script, they accused her of going rogue. Next time the rule will be: Let Palin be Palin.

WHY DID SHE RESIGN the governorship? Because the liberals mounted a campaign of nonstop harassment. They made governing impossible by filing hundreds—hundreds!—of spurious Freedom of Information Act requests, ethics charges, and lawsuits. The problem can be seen plainly on the Alaska state web page under the heading “Who can file an ethics complaint?” The answer: “Anyone.” From anywhere, which includes all the tutees of President Obama’s mentor, Saul Alinsky. And in Alaska, because the governor has to hire attorneys at her own expense, Gov. Palin ran up legal bills of $500,000. She came to the conclusion that she could no longer serve effectively. In Alaska.

Is she quitting? Not likely. As her father said, “Sarah’s not retreating. She’s reloading.” Praise the Lord. And pass the ammunition. “Reloading” would have been a good title for the book too.

Sarah Palin is still young, still blessed with the gifts of determination and resolve and true American grit. She has time to reload. And her best days, like ours, may be yet to come.