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Rogue Thoughts: Chapter by Chapter on Sarah Palin (Chapter 6)
First Things ^ | 11-27-09 | John Mark Reynolds

Posted on 12/01/2009 8:52:48 AM PST by Bob J

Chapter 5

Chapter Six

Here at last I will get to read the Palin agenda for the future. If she is going to run for President, here is her manifesto . . . but there are too few pages left for that.

Here at least I will get a glimpse of what she wants for the nation. I will not demand too much of this chapter and will hope that at long last I can see the glimmers of a plan, a platform, a plausible path to the White House.

Of course, if she is not running for office, or even considering it, then I am demanding too much. The last chapter, however, was fill with indications she wants more. She quit to get her message out after all. As I have already said, that seems valid.

Now here at last is a summary of her message.

This is starting very well. Her appeal and explanation of tradition and of the constrained vision is well-written and succinct. It is also tied into a broad and defensible philosophical tradition. Woo! Hoo!

Here at last is a promising start at a platform that is neither Wall Street sycophant or UC Berkeley pandering.

I like the bit about free markets, but there is no bridge to connect it to tradition. This creates an obvious tension. It can be resolved, but Palin has not resolved it. Are market values the highest values? What of graft and corruption? What of the interface between big business and big government?

There is plenty to say about this, but Palin does not even give us a transition paragraph to show that she is aware of the tension between market forces and tradition.

Palin hammers effectively at the corruption in both parties. She is right that the GOP squandered its small government legacy, but she takes a pass on putting any of the blame on Bush. Perhaps it is just as well, since that decent man has received enough blows from his critics to last a lifetime. We all know what she means.


It would have been better to say absolutely nothing about foreign policy than to say nothing in a few paragraphs. This reads like a throw away paragraph in a domestic policy speech given in haste to a Rotary Club.

You know this chapter is upsetting to me for a simple reason. I know hundreds of under-thirty men and women who could write a better eleven pages than this off the top of their heads. Palin was given a platform of great promise with this book . . . she was going to sell hundreds of thousands of copies no matter what she wrote . . . and she gave us a final chapter less structured and less insightful than blog posts I have read from students during the election.

The problem is not the brevity of the chapter or its simplicity. It is that after a promising start it becomes vague and without a trace of going rogue. It is conventional GOP campaign fodder without a trace of a new idea. Tell us where to cut. Tell us what not to spend. Tell us anything specific to go with the generalities.


If you tell me this chapter is meant to rouse us, then as rhetoric it is also an epic fail. Here there is no passion, no blood throbbing with the excitement of a new day, or a call to national greatness. Here is a complaint and a justifiable pique, but not even a full throat howl of rage. This is is weak tea as a rousing Saint Crispen’s Day speech.

This chapter is too thin to be nourishing and too homely to be inspiring. A Bill Buckley at such a moment would have given us a lesson and taught us something. A Henry V would have rallied the troops with passionate rhetoric to win the day.

Palin had the chance to Buckley or to Henry V, but instead she twittered.

She wants us to stand and fight and many of us are ready for such a call, but she does not tell us in enough specifics where to stand and what to fight. It would be, perhaps, acceptable if we were already at Agincourt with enemy ahead, but even then the rhetoric fails. It is not moving. It is not authentic. It is not bit roguish, but it is rougish . . . the appearance of health covering up the absence.

TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bobj; book; morebobjbs; palin; pds; reynolds

1 posted on 12/01/2009 8:52:48 AM PST by Bob J
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To: Bob J

I don’t think this tiresome pedant realizes the purpose of this book. This is the written equivalent of a visit to the Oprah show, meant to be a memoir of a supremely memorable election, and a re-introduction of the human being Sarah Palin to the ill informed housewives of America who buy into the media caricature of her. It is not an appearance on Meet the Press. It is not a policy book directed at eggheads of the right or left. It is not about you, Mr. Reynolds. Accept it for what it is, and wait for her next book, as there will surely be another.

2 posted on 12/01/2009 9:17:35 AM PST by ccmay (Too much Law; not enough Order.)
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To: ccmay

3 posted on 12/01/2009 9:27:38 AM PST by KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle (
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To: Bob J

ping for later

4 posted on 12/01/2009 9:31:34 AM PST by Ro_Thunder ("Other than ending SLAVERY, FASCISM, NAZISM and COMMUNISM, war has never solved anything")
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