Listen, I despise Sarah Palin as much as the next self-respecting sane person. I fear a world where that woman becomes president, and I think she’s giving brunettes with glasses a bad name. But I will not buy this fucking book.
I know I’ve in the past defended those who might generally be considered stupid authors, including Snooki. And I stand by that defense; there’s plenty of room in this world for memoirs by celebrities, novels from reality-show stars and illustrated drivel from freakishly beloved tweens. But I take offense to The Rogue, the much-hyped “nonfiction” book written by Joe McGinniss, of “I moved in next to Sarah Palin just to stalk her whole life on the boardwalk” fame.
The New York Times did as good a job as I could of summing up The Rogue’s content (better, in fact, since I will never so much as crack the cover) and I won’t waste digital breath repeating all of it here. All you need to know is that McGinniss spent a significant amount of time hunting down salacious information on the Palins, following up on unsubstantiated rumors and peddling lowbrow gossip, all in the name of “getting to the bottom” of who Sarah Palin really is. Among his more scandalous claims are assertions (from anonymous sources) that Palin in her younger years did cocaine, slept with an NBA player, and had an affair while married to the infamous Todd (because…wouldn’t you?)
Listen, a mystery Sarah Palin is not. The woman wears her stupid worldviews on her sleeve, and while I have no doubt she has things in her past she’d prefer stay hidden, I think she generally leads the type of life she claims to—right-wing and wilderness-y. I have never feared her potential ascendance to the presidency because she may or may have not slept with a black man, or may or may not have snorted a line or two in the 80s. Rather, I am afraid of a world where climate change becomes “myth,” where the economy is freely handed to the super-wealthy, where the Everglades are sacrificed in the name of oil and where I no longer have the right to an abortion. Twenty-something Sarah Heath is of extremely limited interest to me; 47-year-old Sarah Palin, and what she’d do if handed the United States of America, is.
I’m not arguing that McGinniss didn’t have the right to buy a house next door to the Palins and set about trying to identify their hypocrisy. I’m just saying it makes me, personally, nauseous. It detracts from legitimate arguments against Sarah Palin’s policies and establishes her as the victim, much in the same way liberals fairly cried foul when right-wingers demanded ludicrous details about Barack Obama’s past—everything from his birth certificate to copies of his college transcripts. You can argue Sarah Palin invited this level of scrutiny—the woman did have a reality show—but it doesn’t make the author of this book any more admirable for stooping to the occasion.
When it comes to political theater, we have to (wishy-washy moment) be the change we want to see. If we want the debate to be about real-world problems, about jobs and the environment and civil rights, then that’s the conversation we need to be a part of. As much as I’ve found myself disappointed with Obama for his refusal to assert what I know (or at least hope) he truly believes, I have always had immense respect for his equally determined refusal to sink to the level of some of his opponents. He is a man with immense dignity, and that is a huge part of why Republicans, despite grabbing the attention of a rowdy group of limited-intelligence middle-Americans, still strike many of us as immature crazy people.
So don’t read, let alone buy, Joe McGinniss’ stupid book. Don’t even pick it up at Barnes & Noble (unless it’s to hide it behind other books on the shelf.) After all, if you shell out hard-earned American dollars for this piece of nonsense, the terrorists win.