An American Life
By Sarah Palin
Reviewed by Thomas Hally
Palin’s tome is a critical narrative of her mismanagement during the 2008 Republican White House bid. In a story that could be told in 300 pages instead of 413, she relates personal histories and vignettes about her earliest childhood memories, her adolescence, family, friends, fishing and a few pesky, small-town political adversaries.
The title is linked to Palin’s activities during the campaign. It was decided she was “off script” when her critical comments about the GOP campaign pullout from Michigan upset top campaign staffers. They claimed she was “going rogue.” She later announced that the Republican campaign had spent more than $150,000 on designer clothes for her family, and again she was advised to censure her comments. Palin’s outspokenness led to a serious communication breakdown between her and some leading GOP staffers.
Sarah Palin started her political career at the age of twenty eight. From 1992 to 1996, she was a City Councilwoman in Wasilla Alaska. In 1996, she was elected Wasilla’s mayor and served the maximum two-term limit, retiring from office in 2002. In 2006, she became the youngest, and the first female, Chief Executive of America’s forty-ninth state. While Governor of Alaska, she strove to lower taxes and promote energy independence. Her pet project was the Trans Alaska Pipeline: the biggest infrastructure project in United States history.
Palin’s GOP Campaign narrative starts at about the halfway mark of her autobiography. Chosen by John McCain to be his running mate on August 29, 2008, he described her as a fighter for the working class who defeated “Big Oil “and successfully battled against corrupt bureaucrats.
Palin had promoted herself as an ordinary American mother with more than enough savvy to be Vice-President of the United States. Yet, in a televised interview with CBS’s Katie Couric, the interviewer asked her: “When it comes to establishing your worldview…what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?” Palin could not answer Couric’s question intelligently, and she became agitated. Her confusion and lack of knowledge was evident.
Three days prior to the final presidential debate, the Republicans found their mascot: Joe the Plumber. Nevertheless, the American people chose Barak Obama as the forty-fourth President of the United States. The Democrats received approximately fifty-three percent of the popular vote, while the Republicans gained about forty-six percent.
After the defeat, Palin found herself inundated with lawsuits, ethics complaints, bills and mounting attorney’s fees. A shadow was being cast on her ability as an administrator and her efficacy as the mother of a child with Down’s Syndrome. Her teenage daughter, Bristol, an unwed mother, became a prime-time TV topic, and even her seven-year old daughter, Piper, was interviewed by the press. Her popularity level fell from nearly 96% to 56%. Palin announced that she would step aside as Governor of Alaska.
In her farewell message to the people of Alaska, she underscores what she believes to be the most notable differences between Conservative Republicans and Progressive Democrats. She considers the Obama Administration’s reforms as a debt to be paid by future generations of Americans. Palin frequently evokes the Ronald Regan legacy and the importance of a strong military. She finishes her farewell speech with an appeal to her supporters: “Stand now. Stand together. Stand for what is right.”