This morning, as I pulled out of the driveway to take The Boy to school, I swung by the mailbox to see what, if anything, my friendly neighborhood mailman had left for me. Turns out he left me a Mike Sinatra CD (no, that’s not a typo–I just discovered the guy on YouTube. He does wonderful re-purposings of old favorites; they’re too nice to be called “covers.” I bought a CD. So. Mike Sinatra was sitting in my mailbox.) But there was also a big yellow envelope. The Boy tore off the wrapping, apparently believing it might be something for him, but it turned out to be a book I had ordered for me.
It’s about Sarah Palin.
I certainly didn’t think I’d be writing those words any time soon. While she was running for VP I wrote about her a lot–I had a lot to say, most of it worried. But then she and Mr. McCain (I almost wrote “Magoo”–sorry, Senator) lost the election and I breathed a sigh of relief. As I watched subsequent events the possibility that la Palin might actually play a significant role in politics came to see increasingly remote, and continuing coverage increasingly irrelevant.
I wouldn’t have purchased this book at all, if it hadn’t been for Joe McGinnis. The authors of the book I bought, Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin, by former inner circle member Frank Bailey, with Ken Morris and Jeanne Devon (creator of The Mudflats, an amazing blog that was daily reading for me back in the day, and still an excellent insiders’ view of Alaskan politics), were writing at the same time as Mr. McGinnis was lurking next door to the Family Palin, and working on his own book. I don’t want to open myself up to charges of slander, but skullduggery happened, and Mr. Bailey & Co.’s book saw the light of day prematurely, and the midwife was Mr. McGinnis. The upshot of this was that Mr. Bailey’s book, having been released for free, saw its potential sales value tank before it had even found a publisher.
Had Mr. Bailey’s book failed because it was badly written, that would have been one thing, but to have been torpedoed before it had even seen the light of day by another author’s self-serving actions made me angry. And so I bought a book. I bought Mr. Bailey’s book, even though it’s about Sarah Palin, and even though I take serious issue with some of Mr. Bailey’s political views. Furthermore, I will not be buying Mr. McGinnis’ book, a position I am happy to announce I had taken even before I read the reviews indicating that, not to put too fine a point on it, Mr. McGinnis has written a stinker.
So anyhow, against all odds, I found myself sitting down to breakfast this morning with the unlikeliest of companions, Sarah Palin, and her campaign staff. By the time I had finished my omelette (cheese, with sourdough toast and Diet Pepsi) I had dug a pen out of my purse and started underlining, and making notes to myself in the margin. And I found myself composing blog posts.
Mr. Bailey’s book is written by an unlikely team–it includes the politically conservative and the politically liberal, as well as Mr. Bailey himself, who was, for quite some time, a Palin True Believer, but who apparently loses his faith at some point in the book I have yet to reach.
Here’s the thing: had this been a hatchet job, I would not be writing this. Had this been a hymn to Sarah Palin I would not be writing this. But this book is something else entirely–I found myself understanding Sarah Palin better as a person. I found myself thinking about the person Bailey portrays in the beginning of her campaign for governor, the source of her appeal for Alaskans, her commitment to serving the people. I felt sad as he chronicles how that person, and that team of volunteers, lost their vision, and got caught up in the very things they swore to oppose in the beginning.
This is a book worth reading, not only because Mr. Bailey has a unique perspective, but because his observations beg discussion not only for what they say about Sarah Palin and her team of core supporters, but because of what they say about the rest of us. I’m going to be blogging about this for a few days–I hope you enjoy it; and I do suggest you buy the book. You can get it here.