I don’t want to repeat the types of reviews that have been published already, so I decided to go into a lot more detail summarizing what Joe McGinniss has to say in The Rogue. (You know me.) So, here goes:
McGinniss covers a tremendous breadth of subject matter about Palin in this book and does so in an engaging way, painting a devastatingly accurate portrait of both Sarah and Todd Palin. I don’t think that our regular readers will find too much that is totally new or surprising, but there are new details and the unflattering picture will be seen by his broader audience. He also includes a fine cast of characters (himself included), who add depth and texture to the story. Overall, some of the themes that emerged most emphatically to me were:
- Those who know Sarah and Todd best trust and like them least. They are bullies who revel in inspiring fear among many who know them.
- Like both their parents’ families, Todd and Sarah’s marriage and family are completely dysfunctional and the “family values” they seek to convey are a complete fraud. Todd is apparently a wanton womanizer.
- Sarah’s religious extremism is much more significant than the media has portrayed; not only her “young earth creationist” beliefs, but the in-depth discussions of her Dominionist beliefs and espousal of witchcraft, are very disturbing and are seen as extreme even by far-right evangelicals.
- Her mayoral term was a “reign of terror,” with the firings of anyone who disagreed with her religious or other views and appointments of unqualified cronies. The list of those she used and then discarded is long: John Stein, Laura Chase, Irl Stambaugh, John Cramer, Lyda Green, John Bitney and many, many others.
- The possibility of legal action regarding perjury during Troopergate may have played a role in Palin’s decision to quit the governorship.
- Levi doesn’t come off as an angel but all the things he said about the dysfunction in the Palin household are totally affirmed by others.
Chapter 1 was already released in part, so I’ll be quick: Joe covers how he came to rent the house next door to Palin; great description of Wasilla and “enough small fry evangelical churches to make Jesus himself weep…” He cleverly manages to touch upon
The former literature student in me has this to say: This “gossipy” aspect of the book, which has been roundly criticized by some reviewers, seems to me to be part of the character of Alaska that he is portraying – catching up on the gossip and hearing all the tales of the extended families is part and parcel of the story he is telling. I think these reviewers are missing part of the point and the character of the book.
Chapter 2 delves into the Heath family history and dysfunction. It touches upon Chuck’s painful childhood and says that Sally’s conversion to evangelicalism led to her emotional abandonment of the family, Heather took her place, trying to be the “mom” and nurturer. Chuck “had a mean streak” and “there was not a lot of tenderness or loving in that household.” Sarah’s conversion to evangelicalism and intense religiosity dominated her relationships in high school; and then there’s the stuff about walking around and sleeping naked, which the other kids all thought was weird. She was considered homely, wasn’t promiscuous [yet] and didn’t have any boyfriends until Todd. Todd made quite a splash when he arrived with his fancy car and truck and big wads of cash from fishing. His native background was just enough to be cool but not so much to be uncool. His own racism was on display in beating up Catherine Taylor’s adopted son, who was black – but the reports that Todd was the one who beat his head against the curb resulting in 77 stitches are wrong; the beating he gave was “not even in the top ten.”
Joe just touches upon Sarah’s meandering college career and says she graduated; he also reveals that Sarah got stoned with her friend Tilly Ketchum’s father. It was in those years that she and her sisters developed a “fetish” for black men and eventually hooked up with Glen Rice, as has already been widely reported. Todd was having wild times with his friends, many of whom figure in her political career later. Bitney describes rampant coke use in Wasilla and of Todd’s use in particular, and says, “You see that with a lot of emotionally unstable people, guys notorious for their temper, like Todd is…When Todd is on a temper bender you don’t want to be anywhere close.” McCavit says, “Matter of fact, in regard to Sarah, all of us felt he was welcome to her. Nobody envied him, that’s for sure.”
The Chapter ends with the story about Chuck Heath’s involvement with the case of George Koenig’s sexual abuse of seventeen third grade girls. These pages are pretty chilling, ending with “Sarah learned from her father: if someone disagrees with you…annihilate first, ask questions later…Veiled threats, verbal violence, complete disregard for the welfare of victims—these came from Chuck and they are all inherent in the current persona of Sarah.”
Chapter 3 unfolds amidst the craziness after Joe moved into the house next to the Palins. He admits that he was naïve to believe the Palins and he would be able to peacefully coexist. He suggested to Todd that Roger Ailes, Sarah’s boss at Fox, could vouch for his character, but to no avail. His all-too-first-hand view of how Sarah cultivated the idea that Joe was a creepy pervert who was invading their privacy is pretty chilling and the threats against him were more serious than what was reported at the time. He also portrays Sherry Johnston very sympathetically and pointedly notes the different standards of justice in the Sherry Johnston-Diana Palin cases.
Hah! Chapter 4 begins by noting that Sarah was pregnant with Track before she was married and that she got very, very big with that first pregnancy, as contrasted to her [invisible] pregnancy with Trig. The inside scoop was that her marriage was always rocky, and that she was hopeless as a homemaker and mother (“She’d burn water.”)
McGinniss charts Palin’s forays into politics and dominionism. John Stein was a nuts and bolts kind of mayor who brought planning to Wasilla and began tackling some stubborn problems by developing a professional local police force to tackle rampant drug, alcohol and abuse problems. At the same time, Sarah’s involvement in converting the board of the
Ch 5: The threats and diatribes against Joe and his family intensify, leading Chris Matthews to comment: “Palin has issued a fatwa against McGinniss.” Living next door to Sarah did give him insight into her character: “…she has no sense of proportion…She’s over the top in all directions: rah-rah cheerleading for those whom she supports, spewing vitriolic condemnation for anyone who challenges her. This strikes me as a potentially dangerous character flaw in someone seeking a position of national leadership… By being here, I’ve gotten an insight into her ability to incite hatred that before I only knew about in the abstract.” Interestingly, the state and local police, and many neighbors, have Joe’s back.
Ch 11 covers Troopergate and in doing so, paints a much fuller and more engaging portrait of Walt Monegan (and includes a wonderful photo of him with his wife).
Chapter 15 is not only soap opera central (Bristol-Levi) but includes several Doonesbury cartoons – Roland Hedley renting the house next to Joe! And Sarah complaining about how Joe ruined their summer. How surreal it must have been to live through this. Joe also was able to (finally) talk with someone who was a fan, but later saw how differently Sarah treated her once she was no longer needy. “She recruits those who feel worthless and powerless and uses them as tools… It’s the kingdom of the addictive personality, and Sarah has made a career out of seeking out people she senses will grow addicted to her.”
I’ve already reported on Chapter 19 so I’m almost done!
But more somberly, the book covers the Giffords shooting and Palin’s bizarre and narcissistic reaction, portraying herself as a victim, even against not only the advice but the strict order of her boss, Roger Ailes. “Sarah’s post-Tucson plunge into the pool of Narcissus proved to be, by several light years, the worst political blunder she’d ever made.” Well, she shut up for a while, but she wasn’t retreating, she was reloading. Bus tour, house in Arizona, rumors of tubal ligation, Rolling Thunder, Paul Revere… oh my! Despite everything, she was able to wrap the media around her finger.
Joe concludes by blasting the MSM for its complicity in creating the Palin phenomenon, saying the media is “reduced to a level of hopeless codependency,” transforming “what should have never been more than a freaky sideshow…into what many still seem to see as the greatest show on earth.”
Do not miss Prof. Brad Scharlott's adaptation of his important paper regarding Sarah Palin's pregnancy with Trig which can be found at the Business Insider.
Download Brad Scharlott's revised version of his research paper about Sarah Palin's pregnancy HERE.
Note by Patrick:
Yesterday, Joe McGinniss gave brilliant radio-interview at WNYC, The Leonard Lopate Show, guest-hosted by Mike Pesca. Radio is probably still the best medium to communicate deep and intelligent thoughts, therefore it is no surprise that this interview is a real pleasure.
You can listen to the full interview which lasts for more than 36 minutes here:
However, in order to make it more accessible, I focused on three parts of the interview with different topics and created a youtube clip for each topic.
"Babygate" has been covered in much more detail in previous or later posts. Far more pictures and other documentation exists. You can find all this information here:
Read all posts at Politicalgates about Sarah Palin's faked pregnancy with Trig - CLICK HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE AND HERE.
Read the old post at Palingates about the faked pregnancy with the pictures still intact HERE.We break the "Spiral of Silence" - Read the details about the "biggest hoax in American political history!"
In addition, please don't hesitate to watch the excellent video-documentaries about "babygate" which our reader Lidia17 created - HERE, HERE and HERE.