28 December 2011

Ms. Palin and the Appeal of Gossip

I read Going Rogue. It was free and I like biographies. And secretly (or not so secretly) I'm a terrible person and thought it would be ridiculous and campy and I would be amused. I wasn't amused. Actually in some places I was kind of saddened. And in some ways ashamed.

The book is not actually written by Ms. Palin although it's sort of confusing since her ghostwriter/helping hand/co-author/whatever they are called isn't easily found. So, for about the first half I was thinking, "Hey, she's not so bad actually." Anyway, the actual physical writing was done by Lynn Vincent, a bestselling conservative author, whose other works I've never read. It's just your basic memoir and recounts the life of Sarah Palin from childhood till a time after the election of 2008.

There wasn't a whole lot of earth shatterment in the book. Nothing really surprised me, but I did learn something about myself, and I could possibly extend this to most of my fellow Americans. We. Love. Gossip. It's kind of disgusting. I can remember most of the Palin incidents in and around the 2008 GOP campaign and laughing along with everyone else. As I read each of those incidents explained I found myself a little ashamed for judging a woman (according to her own testimony, a fellow believer) whom I had never met just based on what I saw on the news. I'm not going to go all conspiratorial on my readers. I don't think there is a giant liberal machine otherwise known as "newsmedia" (for the record the Occupyers think the news is owned by the right-wingers, so they get it coming and going), but I do think that sometimes when we hear something bad about people we are inclined to (if not outright believe it) take the "where there's smoke there's fire," mindset.

What I found particularly heartbreaking was some of the comments made about her children and husband. There really is no reason for this. None. Zero. I am a person who thinks that if a man (or woman) can't be faithful to their spouse, it will be hard for them to be faithful to a country (Yes, Mr. Clinton, that's you), but if it's an unconfirmed rumor floating around about a minor child, everyone who ever printed it or talked about it should be ashamed of themselves.

I don't think I necessarily got a kick out of listening to the stuff about her family, but I do remember the Katie Couric interview and thinking Ms. Palin must be the stupidest person on the planet. Now, her rendition of the interview was that she let Ms. Couric's attitude (or perceived attitude) get to her and she stopped answering the questions. And she even says she regrets this. She also says that parts of her answers were left out. I don't claim to know what actually happened, but I should have realized there are two sides to every story.

Anyway, I'm not recommending this. I only felt sort of ho-hum about it. It was a bit campy, and in some places kind of dragged (unless you are the type of person who finds minutiae of Alaskan-made policies fascinating), but I do think there is a valuable lesson to be learned in reading biographies, and yes even memoirs (as self-serving as they can potentially be). You are allowing a public figure the chance to defend herself (or himself). And it keeps you kind of humble. I was glad for the lesson.


Ben Ditty said...

I saw where it was a book assigned for a political science course on women in politics. I do appreciate you taking the chance to explore other viewpoints. It's a good quality to have :)

Carrie said...

I rather wanted to read this book - mostly because of all the gossip and hype. It's too hard to know what to believe and what not to believe because, as you say, we Americans LOVE gossip. And we also hate to be accurate.

(Side note: I was recently invited to a party by someone I haven't seen in a VERY long time. I was invited to join in a "girl's night of gossip" and I about HIT. THE. ROOF! I kinda WANTED to go but for all the wrong reasons. So I didn't go. Jonathan wouldn't have let me anyway.)

I feel bad for the Palins because they seem like such a solid family. I also hope she doesn't run again. Like, ever. But I do not think she deserved what she got. (Most people do not most of the time.)

BerlinerinPoet said...

Ben: Interesting. I'm not sure it goes into TOO much about women in politics, but perhaps. And about the viewpoints, I do try. hehe

Carrie: Yes, accuracy is SO much more boring. hahaha!
Yeeeah, even if she was just joking around, and just meant "a girl's night of chit-chat" or whatever. It's just taken way too lightly.
Ditto your last comments!