Going Rogue
An American Life
by Sarah Palin

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson
HarperCollins: New York, 2009

413 pages; b&w & color photos

January 2012

A charismatic Constitutionalist

Some time ago, I was trying to define for myself Sarah Palin's political character as part of understanding her decisiveness and effectiveness as an executive, as well as her strong appeal across the public spectrum. After weighing and recombining several terms which partially described her, I came up with charismatic Constitutionalist. You may consider this obvious, or have come up with the same or similar description. What makes it so striking, though, is that this is a type which once was common in America, but has become so rare that we scarcely recognize it. Although this type once was applauded and even expected, it now is so rare that even citizens who might dream of such a public figure hardly can believe in her existence when they see her.

Going Rogue: An American Life is Sarah Palin's personal and political biography through 2009. We readily see the relevance of her experience as Mayor of Wasilla; while chairing the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission; as Governor of Alaska; and as Republican Vice-Presidential candidate in 2008. At the most basic level, I'd say that her presentation of interleaved and integrated personal elements illustrate a real woman, not an artificial creation with an interior which is hollow or worse.

In her own words, when running for Governor in 2006,

My media campaign was the essence of simplicity — which would also be my communication strategy as governor. My two themes were "New Energy for Alaska" and "Take a Stand." I ran a few upbeat commercials that featured my family and Alaska's natural beauty, highlighting our Piper Super Cub airplane, reading to our kids who attend public schools, and thanking law enforcement officers. It wasn't so much to portray a "Little House on the Tundra" scene as to let the visual imagery speak to my priorities. In those ads, I promised that I would fight to protect our state's future. I was as sick and tired of the corruption and politics-as-usual as the majority of Alaskans were, but I kept an optimistic message flowing to show how we'd turn things around for the people.

Her autobiography is not an artificial shell of politically-correct poses, but a glimpse of held and lived values of an American life.

Here's an example of Palin's tactical thinking, going into a "crucial debate" during the Alaska gubernatorial primary campaign:

I knew I could capitalize on the studio's round-table seating arrangement because I could anticipate the guys would toss barbs at each other, revealing their conventional ways of politicking. Sure enough, [incumbent Governor Frank] Murkowski made an erroneous suggestion that [businessman John] Binkley had never gotten much of an education. Then Binkley shot back something about the private jet Murkowski bought in defiance of everyone and used to zip off on pricey junkets. Back and forth they went until the moderator couldn't get a word in edgewise.

We switched to more serious topics like gross versus net oil taxes, but they kept their claws out. I sat back in my chair and let them bicker. Then, just as their ears turned red and they had to come up for air, I leaned forward and let the mom in me flow out. "Come on, guys," I said, "I really think Alaskans deserve a better discourse than this." I spent a couple of moments turning down the volume of their spat, then pivoted back on message. It was another good night for us.

With this simple tactic, Alaskans did hear a better debate, and in the election chose the candidate they deserved.

It's worthwhile for non-Alaskans to acquire a general appreciation of the oil-and-gas issues vital to Alaska. Honest development of Arctic natural resources is a major component in achieving energy independence for America — which best had be sooner rather than later. In Going Rogue, Sarah Palin explains some of the key legislation, such as the previous administration's unfortunate (to put it nicely) Production Profits Tax (PPT), and her own diametrically opposed method as well as the goal. Palin clearly discusses her own important programs, principally The Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) and Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share (ACES).

Beyond the numerical haze, the arrest and indictment of a half-dozen lawmakers involved in PPT's passage created a cloud of suspicion that I believed would be dissipated only by a healthy blast of sunshine. To that end, I called a special session of the legislature to deal solely with this issue. My feeling was that not only did PPT need the absolute attention of the legislators, Alaskans needed to know the details weren't buried in the politics and lifestyle of a normal legislative session.

To that end, I called a special session of the legislature to deal solely with this issue. My feeling was that not only did PPT need the absolute attention of the legislators, Alaskans needed to know the details weren't buried in the politics and lifestyle of a normal legislative session.

What kind of person takes on heavyweights in both the Republican and Democratic Parties in her home state, and beats them? Who once in office not only refuses to fall under the influence of the entrenched corruptocrats in government and business, but successfully fights them? Who executes her office honestly and efficiently, with ethical and fiscal responsibility, as a servant of the Constitution? — Becoming in the process the deservedly most popular governor of any state in America?

What should be our standard in seeking leaders who are brave and clear spokesmen for American values and protectors of the Constitution? What is our benchmark?

What standard should we hold ourselves to, in researching and choosing leaders?


© 2012 Robert Wilfred Franson

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