Books,  Stateside,  Trade Unions

Palin’s book

No, I wasn’t one of those waiting outside the bookstore this morning for the official release of the blockbuster Sarah Palin memoir “Going Rogue: An American Life.” In fact despite my recent words of praise for Palin’s redistributionist approach as governor of Alaska (praise that went unappreciated by her ardent admirers here), I probably won’t even read the thing. (If you want all Palin, all the time, see Andrew Sullivan.)

But I did read The New York Times review of “Going Rogue” (cue disparaging comments about the “liberal media elite”) and I found two things particularly interesting.

One is that “[t]he most sustained and vehement barbs in this book are directed not at Democrats or liberals or the news media, but at the McCain campaign.” Assuming this is correct, it confirms my opinion of Palin as someone who is highly focused on personal slights– in this instance from officials of the McCain campaign– while making a big show of how little they bother her.

The other is this quote from the book about Palin and her husband Todd:

We know what it’s like to be on a tight budget and wonder how we’re going to pay for our own health care, let alone college tuition. We know what it’s like to work union jobs, to be blue-collar, white-collar, to have our kids in public schools. We felt our very normalcy, our status as ordinary Americans, could be a much-needed fresh breeze blowing into Washington, D.C.

Even though I don’t think mere ordinariness qualifies one to be a heartbeat away from the presidency– and as I made plain during the campaign, the prospect of Palin becoming president of the United States frightened me– I appreciate the sentiment behind this. But I find something almost poignant about Palin’s reference to holding union jobs as one of the distinguishing characteristics of ordinary Americans. If only.

It’s the sort of comment that would have rang true in the 1950s, when about one-third of American workers were union members. These days– due in large part to Republican hostility toward organized labor– it’s closer to 12 percent. Maybe Palin’s sadly outdated belief in the ordinariness of union membership is colored by the fact that after New York and Hawaii, Alaska has the highest percentage of union members among any state– 23.5 percent.

Perhaps there’s even a connection between the fact that Todd was, in Palin’s words, “a proud member of the United Steel Workers’ Union” and the fact that until his wife was nominated for vice president, he never registered as a Republican. I’d like to think so.

I don’t know how proud she was, but it appears Palin herself was briefly a union member when she was a TV sports reporter.

At any rate, unlike so many other Republicans these days, Palin seems to have a basically positive attitude toward union membership. So I hope that carries over into her activities in the months and years ahead. Although it won’t make me any less frightened of the prospect of a President Palin.

Update: “Going Rogue” was published without an index, so Seyward Darby of The New Republic has helpfully prepared one.

Can anyone with a copy tell us what she said about Kid Rock on page 300?