Going Rogue, Chapter 4

>> Sunday, November 22, 2009

Oh, fucking hell. It's the presidential campaign. I'd forgotten about this part.

Fortunately for me, there's not much to say, really, about chapter 4 that hasn't already been written about a thousand times already. We have to endure more bullshit about Bristol's pregnancy, the wardrobe "controversy," Katie Couric, and the teleprompter in Minneapolis St. Paul (oops!), which she continues to insist malfunctioned so badly that she was forced to deliver her convention speech from memory. There are a few moments of levity -- as when Palin groans about not being allowed to give more substantive answers during debate prep, or when she receives a friendly visit from Holy Joe Lieberman before squaring off against Biden. We're also forced to read (for several agonizing pages) about the one-liners that Palin and her campaign staffers submitted -- to no avail -- to the writers of Saturday Night Live prior to Palin's late-October appearance on the show. (If prodded forcefully enough in comments, I will post these "jokes" separately. You have, however, been warned.)

But the essential weight of the chapter, however, centers on the way she was mishandled by nearly everyone around her. From what I gather, a lot of folks expected this section of the book to have something like the following effect on the people who managed the McCain campaign:

Sadly, the chapter merely amplifies grievances about campaign strategy that Palin has either hinted at or voiced directly on numerous occasions since last November. At the bottom of it all, Palin accuses the McCain people of stifling the political instincts that helped her win the governor's race in 2006. Then, as she recounts in the previous chapter, Palin "wanted to shake every hand on the trail" and meet everyone in the entire goddamn state. And because she was driving herself and her kids around in sub-zero weather -- guzzling sugar-free Red Bulls and sticking her head out the window (as any responsible parent would) to fend off sleep -- Palin was able to campaign as she saw fit. But in her account of the 2006 gubernatorial race, she tells a story that effectively sets up the rift that would emerge between her and the McCain team.

On one return trip . . . we stopped late at night in the middle of nowhere to drop off a campaign sign. Todd had spotted the unmarked dirt road we needed to take, and we rumbled down a narrow lane lined by tall, spindly black spruce until we came to a tiny wooden cabin hidden in the woods. The elderly couple who lived there had called in to a political radio show and voiced their support, so we'd looked them up and promised to deliver them a yard sign, even though you wouldn't be able to view it from the main highway.
The old people stuff them with pie, and the Palins drive away, listening to LL Cool J and the Black Eyed Peas as they ponder the "hardworking, unpretentious and patriotic people" who want to see them elected.

When Palin gripes about the way she was hemmed in by campaign officials during the 2008 race -- the fact that she wasn't allowed to hang around on the rope lines for hour after needless hour, "really connecting with voters" who were already going to vote for the Republican ticket, or the fact that she was thwarted in her effort to make a pointless visit to Michigan after the campaign wisely yanked the plug on their efforts in that state -- all we need to remember is that Palin believes that campaigns are defined in no small part by their willingness to deliver yard signs in the middle of the night. Throughout the chapter, Palin relishes the attention of core GOP voters who drag their knuckles through the boglands of America to listen to her speak. She wants to "take the gloves off" and drive the base of the party into a white-hot fury over Jeremiah Wright. She wants to sit down at kitchen tables with millions of people and explain to them that John McCain is "bold" and "thinks outside the box," while Barack Obama consorts with terrorists and doesn't have a child with Down Syndrome.

But the fat, chain-smoking meanies in the campaign won't let her, and on November 3 God shows them who's the boss of whom.

To sum up, here's chapter 4:


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