Debra J. Saunders

"Going Rogue: An American Life" acquaints the reader with author Sarah Palin's life and work before she was plucked from her Little House on the Tundra to serve as John McCain's running mate and turned into a national caricature.

Going Rogue by Sarah Palin FREE

Here you see the Alaska governor with the 90 percent approval rating, who took on not only what became known as the GOP's "Corrupt Bastards Club" but also Big Oil companies that were "just sitting on" their North Slope leases when they should have been drilling.

The 2008 campaign coverage portrayed Palin as a rigid culture warrior. Breaking with the stereotype, "Going Rogue" tells the story of a social conservative who in 2006 vetoed a bill to ban the extension of benefits to the same-sex partners of state employees because she thought it was unconstitutional. Despite her aversion to tax increases, the pragmatic Palin also championed a sales tax to fund Wasilla law enforcement.

Palin never addresses the frequent criticism thrown her way by journalists who wondered if Palin possessed any intellectual curiosity -- in light of her failure to get a passport until 2007. If she failed to roam the Tuscan hills in her junior year abroad, at least thanks to her teacher father, Sarah Heath grew up majoring in the exotic natural world around her. She knew all about the state bird (ptarmigans), the difference between glacial crevices and crevasses, as well as what differentiates the grizzly from the brown bear. Dang.

To establish her literary credentials, Palin offers quotes from Blaise Pascal and Pearl S. Buck. She was the reader of the Heath family. Growing up, she recalls reading "The Pearl," "Animal Farm" and "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" -- which probably had folks at the New York Review of Books howling. And that's OK because Palin never aspires to be seen as an intellectual -- not when she perkily observes, "Everything I ever needed to know, I learned on the basketball court."

Of course, no Sarah Palin story would be complete without a media pile-on -- and the virulently anti-Palin have been happy to oblige.

New York Times columnist Frank Rich whacked Palin for her "wide-eyed infatuation with show-business celebrities" because Palin mentioned talking to Bono and Warren Beatty on the phone. That's a choice hit, considering how star-slobbering and celebrity-waving Democrats tend to be.

Debra J. Saunders

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