Going Rouge

Richard Kim and Betsy Reed, Editors

“The only truthful and revealing Sarah Palin book on the market — accept no imitations!” —Naomi Klein

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About the Book

Sarah Palin has many faces: hockey mom, fundamentalist Christian, sex symbol, Republican ideologue, fashion icon, “maverick” populist. But, above all, Palin has become one thing: an American obsession that just won’t go away. Edited by two senior editors at The Nation magazine, this sharp, smart, up-to-the-minute book examines Palin’s quirky origins in Wasilla, Alaska, her spectacular rise to the effective leadership of the Republican Party, and the nightmarish prospect of her continuing to dominate the nation’s political scene.

With contributions by: Amy Alexander, Max Blumenthal, Juan Cole, Joe Conason, Jeanne Devon, Eve Ensler, Michelle Goldberg, Jane Hamsher, Christopher Hayes, Mark Hertsgaard, Jim Hightower, Linda Hirshman, Naomi Klein, Dahlia Lithwick, Amanda Marcotte, Jane Mayer, Shannyn Moore, John Nichols, Rick Perlstein, Tom Perrotta, Katha Pollitt, Robert Reich, Frank Rich, Hanna Rosin, Jeff Sharlet, Matt Taibbi, Michael Tomasky, Rebecca Traister, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Jessica Valenti, Patricia Williams, JoAnn Wypijewski and Gary Younge among others.

“A superb collection . . . an engaging read from start to finish. . . . You will read far more about the real Sarah Palin in Going Rouge than you ever will in her own memoirs.” — Geoffrey Dunn, The Huffington Post

Publication November 16th 2009 • 336 pages
paperback ISBN 978-0-9842950-0-5 • ebook ISBN 978-0-9842950-1-2

About the editors

Richard Kim is a senior editor at The Nation (http://www.thenation.com/directory/bios/richard_kim) where he writes about politics and culture. His essays and editorials have appeared in Salon, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Boston Herald, In These Times, Nerve, Metro, Poz and other publications. He has taught American Studies at Skidmore College and New York University.

Betsy Reed is the executive editor of The Nation, where she works with such writers as Naomi Klein, Katha Pollitt and Jeremy Scahill. She blogs at thenation.com on feminism, economic issues and politics. She edited two previous anthologies: Unnatural Disaster: The Nation on Hurricane Katrina, and Nothing Sacred: Women Respond to Religious Fundamentalism and Terror.

Contributor biographies

Amy Alexander’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, National Public Radio, TheRoot.com, and the Nation. Her next book, Minority Opinion: A Story of Race, Media, and Reinvention (Beacon Press), will be published January 2010.

Emily Bazelon is a senior editor at Slate and the Truman Capote Fellow at Yale Law School. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, and Mother Jones.

Max Blumenthal is a senior writer for the Daily Beast and a contributor to the Nation, Al Jazeera English, Salon, AlterNet, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Monthly. His new book is Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party (Nation Books). Research support for his article was provided by the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute.

Juan Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. His most recent books include Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East. He also has a regular column at Salon and writes the blog Informed Comment.

Joe Conason is national correspondent for the New York Observer, a columnist for Salon, and the director of the Nation Institute Investigative Fund. His books indclude Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth.

Jeanne Devon, based in Alaska, blogs as AKMuckraker and Mudflats.

Eve Ensler is an American playwright, performer, feminist, and activist, best known for her play The Vagina Monologues. Her latest work is her first book, Insecure At Last: Losing It In Our Security-Obsessed World.

Amanda Fortini has written for the New Yorker, Slate, Elle, and New York, among other publications. She contributed to Going Hungry: Writers on Desire, Self-Denial, and Overcoming Anorexia.

Thomas Frank is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. He is the founder and editor of The Baffler and the author of The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule and What’s the Matter with Kansas?

Dana Goldstein is an associate editor at the American Prospect. Her writing has also appeared in BusinessWeek, Slate, the Guardian, the New Republic, and the Nation.

Michelle Goldberg is the author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism and The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World. She is currently a blogger at the Huffington Post and also writes an online column for the American Prospect. Research support for her article was provided by the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute.

Jane Hamsher is the founder of firedoglake.com and the author of the best-selling book Killer Instinct. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, PBS, and the BBC.

Christopher Hayes is the Nation’s Washington, D.C., editor. His articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the American Prospect, the New Republic, the Washington Monthly and the Chicago Reader. He is currently a fellow at the New America Foundation.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is the editor of the Nation. She is the co-editor of Taking Back America—And Taking Down The Radical Right and editor of The Dictionary of Republicanisms. Her articles have appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and the Boston Globe.

Jim Hightower writes a nationally syndicated column carried by seventy- five independent weekly newspapers and other publications. He also writes a monthly newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown.”

Mark Hertsgaard is the environment correspondent at the Nation. He is the author of five books. His next book is Living Through the Storm: How We Survive the Next 50 Years of Climate Change.

Sheila Kaplan is a lecturer in political reporting at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Nation, Salon, Legal Times, the Washington Monthly and U.S. News & World Report.

Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist, and author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo. Klein’s regular column for the Nation and the Guardian is distributed internationally by the New York Times Syndicate.

Richard Kim is a senior editor at the Nation.

Michael T. Klare is the defense correspondent for the Nation and professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College. His latest book is Rising Power, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy.

Linda Hirshman is the author of Get to Work: And Get A Life Before It’s Too Late. She is also a columnist with Double X.

Jane Mayer is a staff writer for the New Yorker and the author of the best-selling book The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals.

Elstun Lauesen is a rural affairs specialist in Alaska.

Dahlia Lithwick is a senior editor and legal correspondent for Slate, and is a weekly legal commentator for the NPR show, Day to Day. She is co-author of Me v. Everybody: Absurd Contracts for an Absurd World.

Amanda Marcotte is a blogger for Pandagon. Her book is entitled It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.

Shannyn Moore is a broadcaster based in Anchorage, Alaska, who has interviewed Sarah Palin numerous times. She has appeared on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman, Keith Olbermann’s Countdown and the Rachel Maddow Show.

Brentin Mock is a Metcalf Institute Fellow for Environmental Reporting at the American Prospect. He also writes for Essence, GOOD, and Next American City magazines. His work has also appeared in Intelligence Report, Harper’s, the Source, and the Pittsburgh City Paper.

David Neiwert is the author of The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America, and In God’s Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest. Research support for his article was provided by the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute.

John Nichols writes the Online Beat at TheNation.com. He also writes for the Nation as its Washington correspondent and is a contributing writer for the Progressive and In These Times. He is the author of The Genius of Impeachment, Jews for Buchanan, and Dick: The Man Who Is President.

Katha Pollitt is a columnist at the Nation. Her work has been compiled in: Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism; Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture; and Virginity or Death! And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time.

Tom Perrotta is a novelist and screenwriter best known for his novels Election and Little Children, both of which were made into films. His latest novel, The Abstinence Teacher, has just been published in paperback.

Rick Perlstein is the author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, and Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. He previously wrote a column for the New Republic Online.

Betsy Reed is the executive editor of the Nation. She was the editor of Unnatural Disaster: The Nation on Hurricane Katrina, and the anthology Nothing Sacred: Women Respond to Religious Fundamentalism and Terror.

Robert Reich is co-founding editor of the American Prospect magazine. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations. His commentaries can be heard weekly on public radio’s Marketplace.

Frank Rich is an op-ed columnist for the New York Times. He has written his childhood memoir, Ghost Light; and a collection of Rich’s drama reviews, Hot Seat: Theater Criticism for The New York Times, 1980–1993, was published in 1998.

Hanna Rosin is a contributing editor at the Atlantic Monthly and the author of God’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America.

Hart Seely is an award-winning reporter for the Syracuse Post-Standard. He is the author of Mrs. Goose Goes to Washington: Nursery Rhymes for the Political Barnyard.

Jeff Sharlet is a contributing editor for Harper’s and Rolling Stone and the co-creator of two online journals; Killing the Buddha and the Revealer. He authored The Family: Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

Marilyn Berlin Snell is a San Francisco–based journalist and editor who has written for the New York Times, This American Life, the New Republic, Discover, Mother Jones, Harper’s, the Los Angeles Times, NPQ, and Sierra. Research support for her article was provided by the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute.

Gloria Steinem launched the feminist Ms. magazine. She has authored Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem and more recently, Doing Sixty and Seventy.

Matt Taibbi works at Rolling Stone where he authors a column, “Road Rage.” He also recently joined True/Slant as a blogger. His most recent book is titled The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics & Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire.

Michael Tomasky is the editor in chief of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, editor of Guardian America, and a contributing editor for the American Prospect.

Rebecca Traister is a senior writer at Salon. She has freelanced for Elle, the Nation, the New York Times, and Glamour. Her new book Big Girls Don’t Cry, about women and the 2008 presidential election, will be published in fall 2010 by the Free Press at Simon & Schuster.

Jessica Valenti is the founder and editor of the popular blog Feministing.com, and the author of: Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters and He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut… 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know.

Patricia J. Williams is a professor of law at Columbia University. Her publications include Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave and We Are Not Married: A Journal of Musings on Legal Language and the Ideology of Style.

JoAnn Wypijewski is a columnist for Mother Jones and formerly an editor at the Nation. She is the editor of Painting by Numbers: Komar and Melamid’s Scientific Guide to Art, and The Thirty Years Wars: Dispatches and Diversions of a Radical Journalist, 1965–1994.

Gary Younge is a fellow at the Nation Institute. He is also the New York correspondent for the Guardian and the author of No Place Like Home: A Black Briton’s Journey through the Deep South and Stranger in a Strange Land: Travels in the Disunited States.

In the Media

Read an Excerpt


By Richard Kim and Betsy Reed

On the evening of November 4, 2008, progressives were in an ebullient mood. After eight long years of Republican rule, Barack Obama had been elected president. Accompanying our shouts of joy were audible sighs of relief. The prospect of a John McCain presidency had filled us with dread. But to imagine Sarah Palin—a conservative Christian with a penchant for folksy warmongering who flaunted her ignorance as a virtue—separated from the red button in the Oval Office only by a 72-year-old cancer survivor… that was beyond terrifying. Palin, we hoped, would slink back to Alaska, where her corrosive influence could be contained and perhaps ultimately extinguished, as her candidacy, historic in its way, became a footnote in an election filled with other, more galvanizing political developments.

As we write, it has been one year since that memorable night, and if the hard realities of governing a nation engulfed in two wars and a deep recession have somewhat dampened the hopes Obama raised during his campaign, another gnawing realization has crept in: The story of Sarah Palin is far from over. Her abrupt announcement over the July 4 weekend that she was quitting the governorship of Alaska may have removed her from public office, but it did little to diminish her presence in the public eye. Her memoir, Going Rogue, with a first printing of 1.5 million copies, became a best seller thanks to preorders before it even hit the stores. While her approval rating among all voters hovers around 40 percent, among Republicans it still stands at the 70 percent mark. Disgruntled former McCain staffers continue to snipe at her in the press, but she consistently ranks in the top tier of Republican presidential hopefuls. McCain’s campaign manager Steve Schmidt—who sanctioned her selection as McCain’s running mate—has said that a Palin presidential bid would be “catastrophic,” but McCain himself recently acknowledged that Palin is a “formidable force in the Republican Party” and a strong contender for the party’s nomination in 2012. Compared to the all-male also-rans and might-have-beens that pop up in Republican straw polls— Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Bobby Jindal, Ron Paul, and Rudy Giuliani—Palin is a bona fide celebrity. She transcends politics. As New York Times columnist Frank Rich puts it, Palin is “not just the party’s biggest star and most charismatic television performer; she is its only star and charismatic performer.”

What explains this enduring allure? Her gender? Good looks? Her small-town Alaskan roots? Her fascinating biography and family drama? Undeniably, these are all part of the Sarah Palin mystique. Her name instantly conjures up a pungent brew of images, phrases and associations: just an average hockey mom of five, a pit bull with lipstick, beauty queen, moose hunter, long-distance runner, sexy librarian, winker, rogue—you betcha! But for those who care to look, beneath these shimmering surfaces there lies both a crude ideology and an alarmingly potent strategy for selling it. Like Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush, Palin has managed to become a brand unto herself, quite a feat for a failed vice presidential candidate. No one speaks of McCainism or Dole- ism, but Palinism signals not just a political position but a political style, a whole way of doing politics.

Palinism works by draping hard-right policy in a winning personal story and just-folks rhetoric, delicately masking the extremism of her true positions and broad- ening the audience for them. Its genius rests in its ability to magically absorb inconvenient facts and mutually contradictory realities into an unassailable personal narrative. In the Palin universe, her unwed pregnant teenage daughter Bristol is somehow a poster child for abstinence- only education; hence criticism of Palin’s sex-ed policies is an attack on her family. While Palin says tolerantly that members of her own family disagree about abortion, that there are “good people” on both sides, and that she would “personally” counsel a pregnant 15-year-old who’d been raped by her father to “choose life,” she actually believes that a child in that situation should not have the legal option to terminate her pregnancy. Although Palin is an aggressive advocate for opening up the United States’ oil reserves to drilling instead of investing in renewable energy, she labels herself “pro-environment,” a stance exemplified by her love of shooting animals or her husband’s hobby of racing snowmobiles across the tundra. And who’d dare question Palin’s foreign policy credentials, when her son Track shipped out to Iraq after high school?

To grasp the persistent power of Palinism, consider the “death panel” hysteria that hijacked the debate over health care reform in the summer of 2009. It began on July 24, when Betsy McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York and Clinton health care antagonist, took to the pages of the New York Post to vilify Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and a health policy adviser to the Obama administration. Dr. Emanuel, McCaughey wrote, had advocated rationing health care away from the elderly and disabled, and the Democrats’ health care reforms would “put the decisions about your care in the hands of presidential appointees” like him. McCaughey’s claims were easily debunked, and they initially failed to break into the mainstream. That changed on August 7, when Sarah Palin posted a screed against health care reform on her Facebook page that included this classic Palinism: “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.” With remarkable economy of prose, Palin cast health care reform as an assault on the country, put a face on its supposed victims (her baby Trig), coined the expression “death panel” (linking it directly to Obama), raised the specter of euthanasia in the service of a state-run economy, and rallied the troops around a fight against “evil.” In short, she personalized, popularized, and polarized the debate. Never mind that Democratic health care reform bills merely funded optional end-of-life consultations that had heretofore been almost universally acknowledged as a good. (Indeed, Palin herself once championed them in Alaska.) The madness exploded. Astroturf groups funded by the health insurance industry began pumping up the base of tea party protesters, who laid siege to town hall meetings, heckling elected officials from both parties. Fights broke out. Armed zealots began showing up at the president’s speeches. Newt Gingrich appeared on This Week with George Stephanopolous and said, “There clearly are people in America who believe in establishing euthanasia, including selective standards.” Other Republican leaders took up the cause, and it was not until Obama flatly rejected death panels as “a lie, plain and simple” in his health care speech on September 9 that the public anxiety over them began to subside.

As this book goes to press, health care reform has yet to pass Congress, and it is unclear what effect the death panel uproar will have on the ultimate legislative outcome. But Palin’s “death panel” crusade has already provided a chilling lesson: that a minority armed with conspiracy theories is capable of occupying the national political discourse as long as they have conviction and a mouthpiece. This brand of politics—hostile to reform in Washington, despite its own reformist posture; unconstrained by any sense of obligation to be truthful and decent when confronting one’s ideological foes—was not invented by Palin, but she has demonstrated a special knack for it ever since she landed on the national scene. During the election, it was Palin who trafficked in guilt by association, dredging up Obama’s reed-thin connection to former Weatherman Bill Ayers and pushing McCain to make the Reverend Jeremiah Wright an issue, despite his pledge to leave Wright out of it. It was Palin who, addressing the surging, angry crowds at her campaign rallies, accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists,” gratifying those who suspected him of being a secret Muslim born outside the country. It was Palin who, while campaigning in North Carolina, praised small towns as “the real America” and the “pro-America areas of this great nation,” fanning racialized fears of urban America and stoking the notion that Obama and his supporters intended a hostile takeover of the U.S. government. And more recently, it was Palin who was among the first to suggest that Obama, in his attempt to alleviate some of the pain caused by the recession, has launched the country on the path to “socialism.” Of course, Sarah Palin does not espouse the entirety of the paranoid right’s propaganda. She does not ask to see Barack Obama’s birth certificate, and she does not show up at town halls toting a rifle and a knife. But she doesn’t have to; suggestion and innuendo are her game, and in the swirl of resentments and phobias that fuel the American right, she is never far from the center.

That Sarah Palin occupies such a vital place in the Republican Party’s zeitgeist—rivaled perhaps only by fellow “outsiders” Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh—is even more surprising when one considers the obscurity from which she was plucked by McCain on August 29, 2008. Palin had been mayor of a city of approximately 7,000 and was just twenty months into her first term as governor of Alaska, the forty-seventh-most-populous state in the nation. This was hardly the resume with which to attack Obama for his lack of experience, the McCain campaign’s then going strategy. But a unique set of circumstances convinced McCain’s advisers that choosing Palin was the “game-changing” move they desperately needed to make. The Palin pick was an arrow aimed not only at Obama but at the heart of the fragile Democratic coalition. With the soul-wrenching primary still a raw memory for Democrats torn between a charismatic, visionary black man and a feisty, competent female candidate, McCain’s choice seemed at first to reflect an almost demonic genius. From where progressives stood at that time, Palin appeared to be the latest GOP rabbit-out- of-a-hat, conjured up in some steel-plated war room the likes of which we could scarcely imagine. All those passionate, fresh-faced Obama volunteers with their Facebook pages and house parties that we’d been celebrating as the new transformative force in American politics suddenly seemed pathetic, even tragic, next to the glowing apparition of Sarah Palin on our TV screens.

The spectacle of a woman being elevated to such a lofty place in the Republican Party hierarchy was certainly something to behold. Before her there had been Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under Bush, and Liddy Dole’s truncated run for the Republican nomination in 2000, among others, but GOP women had been cast either as bit players or members of the team, and now a woman was potentially entrusted with the presidency itself. What’s more, Palin was clearly selected in part because of her womanly appeal. Her nomination was, to be sure, a milestone—finally, a working mother was being celebrated rather than guilt-tripped by family-values traditionalists. But it was also profoundly cynical. Well before McCain’s advisers settled on the choice, Palin’s fortunes were avidly being promoted by besotted male conservatives like the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes, Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, and consultant Dick Morris, as Jane Mayer reports in her contribution here. The party that congratulated itself for anointing a woman simultaneously embraced a platform advocating draconian restrictions on women’s reproductive freedom (supporting a ban on abortion even in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at stake), and its leaders stood against the Lilly Ledbetter act for pay equity, along with every other agenda item for the women’s movement. As pieces in this volume by Katha Pollitt and Gloria Steinem show, feminists were quick to expose the fraudulent nature of the GOP’s gambit. As Steinem put it, “This isn’t the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need.” The small matter of Palin’s utter lack of qualifications for the job would become painfully more apparent as the campaign unfolded. For feminists—who had long heard complaints that affirmative action promotes mediocrity from the same quarters that now extolled Palin’s virtues—the hypocrisy of the pick was too much to bear.

But there she was, the shining star of the Republican National Convention, and indisputably feminine. It was not only Palin herself but the sight of her brood of five children—including baby Trig, and Bristol, 17 and pregnant—along with the ruggedly handsome “first dude” Todd, that riveted the nation. As JoAnn Wypijewski points out in her contribution, Palin and her family are exemplars of the new Christian sexual politics. Married, fertile, God-fearing, and hot: Palin’s sex appeal was a major factor in her bolt to stardom. Finally, conservatives had found a fashionable and sexy icon—why let Hollywood liberals have all the fun?—and if Palin’s looks led some to instantly dismiss her as a pretty airhead, then many others hung on her every wink and word.

This double-edged effect of her gender and her beauty was on our minds when we selected the title Going Rouge for this book. (Appearances aside, it had nothing to do with the fact that Sarah Palin’s forthcoming memoir is called Going Rogue; any similarities are purely coincidental.) While we could never be participants in the “Sarah Palin Pity Party” (in Rebecca Traister’s memorable phrase), we are not without sympathy for the bind she has found herself in. In all fairness to Palin, the media attention devoted to her $150,000 shopping spree to glam up her wardrobe— inappropriate though it may have been to use Republican National Committee cash for such a purpose, when the campaign was busy selling her as an Everywoman—was disproportionate. It was not only a frivolous focus at a moment when the financial system was imploding and the U.S. military was waging wars on multiple fronts, but it revealed that Palin was subject to a sort of scrutiny that male candidates are generally spared (yes, John Edwards took flak for his $400 haircuts, but even that had sexist overtones—he was labeled the “Breck Girl” for his excesses). On the other hand, Palin and, by extension, the overwhelmingly white and male Republican Party leadership, having made the decision to “go rouge”—that is, to use her gender and sex appeal to advance their campaign to capture the White House—can’t have expected this remarkable image transformation to pass without criticism, especially when what they stood for was antithetical to most women’s needs and desires.

Looking back, progressives and feminists did an admirable job in picking apart the GOP’s first female vice presidential nominee. When they attacked, they did so largely for the right reasons. In this book, we have assembled highlights from the reporting and commentary on her rise. Chapter Two focuses on her selection by John McCain— both the symbolic and the political reasons for the pick. Chapter Two examines her record in Alaska, as small-town mayor and then governor, with special attention to her links to the far right and her anti-environmental policies. Chapter Three, “Palintology,” features an assortment of vintage Selected Palinisms and a cross section of her lies and misrepresentations. In Chapters Four and Five— “Lipstick on a Faux Feminist: Palin and Women” and “The Palin Pageant: Sex, God, and Country First”—the cultural implications of her ascension are explored. Chapter Six takes stock of the ideology of Palinism; Chapter Seven chronicles her missteps and ultimate electoral defeat; and Chapter Eight illuminates her legacy and future in the Republican Party.

As it turned out, at the ballot box, most Americans proved they were able to see through the glossy packaging and peg Palin for what she was: a Christian fundamentalist opposed to the teaching of honest sex education in schools and in favor of teaching creationism alongside evolution, a climate-change-denier and government-basher alarmingly ignorant of the world and totally unprepared to be president. Women voted overwhelmingly for Obama—56 percent to 43 percent for McCain/Palin—while men were about evenly split. Exit surveys showed that Palin was a drag on the Republican ticket.

But as we’ve seen, this is a woman with at least nine lives. By our count, having crashed and burned in Election 2008 and resigned ignominiously as governor, she’s still got seven left.

Table of Contents

Richard Kim and Betsy Reed

1/Picking Palin: The GOP’s Gift to America

Beauty and the Beast
JoAnn Wypijewski

The Insiders: How John McCain Came to Pick Sarah Palin
Jane Mayer

Palin: Wrong Woman, Wrong Message
Gloria Steinem

2/Half-Baked Alaska: Palin’s Real Record

Meet Sarah Palin’s Radical Right-Wing Pals
Max Blumenthal and David Neiwert

Palin’s Party: Her Religious Right Roots
Michelle Goldberg

Our Polar Bears, Ourselves
Mark Hertsgaard

Palin’s Petropolitics
Michael T. Klare

Northern Exposure: Sarah Palin’s Toxic Paradise
Sheila Kaplan and Marilyn Berlin Snell

Why Troopergate Matters
John Nichols

Examining Palin’s Record on Violence Against Women
Brentin Mock

Palin Enthusiastically Practices Socialism, Alaska-Style
Elstun Lauesen

Letter from the Other Alaska
Shannyn Moore

The Ugly Irony of Going Rogue
Jeanne Devon


Selected Palinisms
Compiled by Sebastian Jones

Palin’s Prevarications
Compiled by Sebastian Jones

Palin’s Top 25 Tweets

Buyer’s Remorse

The Poetry of Sarah Palin
Hart Seely

4/Lipstick on a Faux Feminist
Palin and Women

Sarah Palin, Affirmative Action Babe
Katha Pollitt

The F-Card Won’t Wash: Sarah Palin Is Disastrous for Women’s Rights
Jessica Valenti

Sarah’s Steel Ones
Amy Alexander

Sarah Palin, Mean Girl
Linda Hirshman

The “Bitch” and the “Ditz”
Amanda Fortini

5/The Palin Pageant: Sex, God, and Country First

The Elephant in the Room
Dana Goldstein

What Scarlet Letter?
Hanna Rosin

Sarah Palin’s Shotgun Politics
Gary Younge

Sarah Palin’s Frontier Justice
Patricia J. Williams

The Sexy Puritan
Tom Perrotta

The Witch-Hunter Anoints Sarah Palin
Max Blumenthal

Sarah Palin, American
Jeff Sharlet

Mad Dog Palin
Matt Taibbi

Sarah Palin’s Faux Populism
Jim Hightower

The Sarah Palin Smoke Screen
Katrina vanden Heuvel

The GOP Loves the Heartland to Death
Thomas Frank

6/Unpacking Palinism: The World According to Sarah

Capitalism, Sarah Palin–Style
Naomi Klein

Drill, Drill, Drill
Eve Ensler

Sarah Palin, Meet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Juan Cole

Sarah Palin’s Nine Most Disturbing Beliefs
AlterNet Staff

7/Going Rogue: A Woman’s Right to Lose

The Sarah Palin Pity Party
Rebecca Traister

The Un-Hillary: Why Watching Sarah Palin Is Agony for Women
Emily Bazelon

Flirting Her Way to Victory
Michelle Goldberg

Sayonara, Sarah
Katha Pollitt

Lost in Translation: Why Sarah Palin Really Quit Us
Dahlia Lithwick

8/Palin’s Poison: Lingering in the Body Politic

She Broke the GOP and Now She Owns It
Frank Rich

The Losers Who Gave Us Sarah Palin
Joe Conason

Beyond the Palin
Rick Perlstein

Sarah Palin’s Death Panels
Robert Reich

How Sarah Palin Renewed American Socialism
John Nichols

Forum: What Is Sarah Palin’s Future in American Politics?
Jane Hamsher, Christopher Hayes, Amanda Marcotte, Michael Tomasky


Contributor Biographies


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