Because what the world needs more than anything is another book about Sarah Palin, Rosemary E. Bachelor has provided us with one. Unfortunately, this one is a really bad book that tells us nothing about Palin but an awful lot about Bachelor.
Seemingly slapped together from Wikipedia links, Huffington Post blogs and Frank Rich columns, “Sarah Palin’s Piece of the American Pie” is a compendium of random facts and risible analysis. Maybe we do need another book about the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee regardless of whether she ends up being be a candidate in 2012. But this isn’t it.
Bachelor is a Pulitzer Prize-winning Gannett Co. reporter-turned-political-polemicist who, in the best (worst?) tradition of those who consider President Barack Obama to be a foreign-born alien, considers Palin’s residency in Alaska to make her somehow less American than the rest of us. “The rest of the country is more like a foreign country to her,” Bachelor writes.
Her explanation for this is that Alaska is far away, very different from the lower 48 and didn’t play a role in the civil rights movement. The first one is true. The second has some validity, though not in the ways Bachelor suspects. The third would come as a surprise to many.
Bachelor, who won her Pulitzer for a series on integration, should know better than to write things like: “Something was going on in the rest of the United States that had little impact on Alaska. It was the civil rights movement.”
For starters, the question of Alaska statehood itself hinged, in part, on the civil rights movement. Segregationists in the 1950s were afraid it would provide two more pro-civil-rights votes in the Senate, for example, so they were wary of adding Alaska to the union.
But even more importantly, the civil rights movement was an inspiration for many people in the state, even if they weren’t marching and sitting in. Alaska Native leader Willie Hensley writes movingly of the era in his autobiography, “Fifty Miles From Tomorrow.”
But those sorts of facts would get in the way of Bachelor’s attempt to demean and belittle Palin, so she simply ignores them. Instead, she enlightens us with pithy observations such as: “Women voters can be sorted into two general categories — those who would vote for Sarah because she is a woman and those who would vote against her because she does not embody feminist ideas.” If only politics were that simple, wouldn’t life be easier for campaign consultants?
Also, note the use of “Sarah” here. Bachelor employs the old trick of referring to women by their first names while referring to men by their last.
We don’t learn much about Palin from this book. But we do learn that Bachelor doesn’t like Palin, or her view of America, or her politics, or her religion, or her support of Israel, or anything else about her, really. She has cobbled together a collection of quotes from other people who don’t like Palin opining on the topic and tries to pass off those opinions as facts.
If you already hate Sarah Palin, you’ll enjoy reading this book. You’ll nod and laugh, and it will confirm your already strongly held opinion. If you like Palin, stay away. It will only infuriate you. If you don’t fit in either of those categories and actually want to learn something about Palin, there are plenty of other places to look.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.