Palin folksy and critical
By Richard T. Pienchiak
NEW YORK ó Sarah Palin’s new memoir describes heart-wrenching anguish about her teen daughter’s pregnancy playing out before a national audience. But the 413-page tome doesn’t contain a single reference to the father of her grandson, soon-to-be Playgirl model Levi Johnston.
In “Going Rogue,” Palin also laments about everyone in her entourage being forced to wear fancy clothes she couldn’t afford ó preferring simpler, cheaper garb. But it’s as if Johnston, who was among those hastily spiffed up to appear at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., had never left Wasilla, Alaska.
The tactic does appear to have merit; Johnston, who has sparred repeatedly with his former mother-in-law-to-be, continues to warn that she should leave him alone, or he might dish some serious dirt that “will hurt her.”
While the book ó which contains 68 color photos but no index ó stays away from Johnston, the former vice presidential candidate digs in when it comes to those who ran Sen. John McCain’s campaign.
She confirms that there was substantial tension between her advisers and McCain’s. She bitterly details how she was prevented from delivering a concession speech on election night, how she’d been kept “bottled up” from reporters during the campaign and prevented in many ways from just being herself. She also contends she was prepped to give non-answers during her debate with Joe Biden.
The book, which has a first printing of 1.5 million copies, has been at or near the top of Amazon.com and other best-seller lists for weeks, ever since publisher HarperCollins announced it had been completed ahead of schedule and moved its release date up from next spring.
“As you probably have heard, the AP snagged a copy of my memoir, Going Rogue, before its Tuesday release,” Palin said in a post on her Facebook site. “And as is expected, the AP and a number of subsequent media outlets are erroneously reporting the contents of the book. Keep your powder dry, read the book, and enjoy it! Lots of great stories about my family, Alaska, and the incredible honor it was to run alongside Senator John McCain.”
AP, however, stands by its story. “We’ve read the book; we’ve read it carefully ó and we stand by our reporting,” Paul Colford, AP director of media relations, said last Friday.
Interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters were televised last week to coincide with the book’s release. Palin said on her Facebook site that she’s hoping to schedule interviews with others, including Rush Limbaugh and four Fox News Channel personalities: Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Greta Van Susteren. All but Van Susteren have their own radio programs.
The tour, which will skip major cities in favor of smaller localities, started Nov. 18 at a Barnes & Noble in Grand Rapids, Mich., where Palin and McCain made a campaign appearance last fall. Other parts of the tour will mirror the 2008 race. On Dec. 7, Palin is booked for the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., not far from last year’s Republican National Convention, where Palin’s speech ó in which she likened herself to a pit bull ó made her a national sensation.
The tour will last about three weeks, with a break for Thanksgiving, and will end around Dec. 10, according to HarperCollins. Palin will travel by bus for much of the time, likely accompanied by family and by aide Meg Stapleton.
While the book follows Palin’s life from her birth in Sandpoint, Idaho, to wondering about the next stop in her future, Palin, who received an advance of at least $1.25 million, saves her strongest words for run-ins with McCain staffers and her widely panned interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric.
She describes Couric as condescending, biased and “badgering.” She contends the anchor chose “gotcha” moments while leaving the candidate’s more substantive remarks on the cutting room floor.
“In this case, I really do think that the quality of the interview and the quality of the questions speak for themselves,” CBS News President Sean McManus said last Friday. “When I go back and I watch the interview and I listen to the questions, it’s really difficult for me to think that any of the questions were unfair or any of them were questions that a vice presidential candidate shouldn’t be expected to receive.”
Palin takes another dig at Couric while asserting her expertise on energy matters. She writes that she was shocked Couric had asked her which newspapers and magazines she read; given what she called Couric’s lack of knowledge about energy issues, Palin wondered whether she should have asked the news anchor what she read.
Couric, through her spokesman Matthew Hiltzik, had no comment last Friday. McManus said the network had no plans to revisit the interview or broadcast what was left on the cutting room floor.
The closest Palin comes to naming names occurs in the passages about chief McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt. Quoting another campaign official, she writes that Schmidt felt she wasn’t prepared enough on policy matters and even wondered if she was suffering from postpartum depression following the April 2008 birth of her son Trig, who has Down syndrome.Palin comes across as particularly upset about being stuck with $50,000 in legal bills that she says were directly related to the legal vetting process for the VP slot. She says she was never informed that she would have to personally take care of expenses related to the selection process, and jokes that if she’d known she was going to get stuck with the bill, she would have given shorter responses.
According to the book, Palin asked officials at the Republican National Committee and what was left of the McCain campaign if they would help her financially. She says she was told that if McCain had won, the bills would have been paid, but since he lost, the bills were her responsibility.
Trevor Potter, the McCain campaign’s general counsel, told the AP the campaign never asked Palin to pay a legal bill.
“To my knowledge, the campaign never billed Gov. Palin for any legal expenses related to her vetting and I am not aware of her ever asking the campaign to pay legal expenses that her own lawyers incurred for the vetting process,” Potter said.
If Palin’s lawyer billed her for work related to her vetting, the McCain campaign never knew about it, Potter said.
Written with Lynn Vincent, “Going Rogue” is folksy in tone and homespun. She writes in awe about how the McCain campaign had hired a New York stylist who had also worked with Couric.
Palin shares behind-the-scene moments when the nation learned her teen daughter Bristol was pregnant, how she rewrote the statement prepared for her by the McCain campaign ó only to watch in horror as a TV news anchor read the original McCain camp statement, which, in Palin’s view, glamorized and endorsed her daughter’s situation.
In limited excerpts of the prerecorded Winfrey interview, Palin says Johnston is still part of the family. Johnston was quoted as saying that any attempts at reconciliation are fake.