My Take on Going Rogue

From the Editor

My Take on Going Rogue

Janet Bodnar delves into Sarah Palin's book -- and finds a few things she likes.

From our perch here in Washington, D.C., two blocks from the White House, we at Kiplinger have a birds-eye view of the political scene but strive to remain staunchly nonpartisan in our politics. So I had deep reservations about volunteering to review Sarah Palin’s book Going Rogue.

In fact, I had reservations about putting the book on my Christmas list because it meant taking some grief (and facing a few raised eyebrows) from family members and friends. I had to explain that as the editor of a national magazine covering finances and the economy, I felt I needed to know what all the fuss was about, especially when it involved a potential presidential candidate.

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And fuss there is. The mere mention of Sarah Palin sets the mainstream media on edge and drives bloggers bonkers. I didn’t think the book was as incendiary as it was portrayed in some press reports, but even the reviews were divisive. I agree with the more measured critiques: Going Rogue ain’t great literature, and it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Yes, it’s all about Palin and her view of the campaign -- but what else would you expect from a book like this? Plus, many critics complained that Palin offered too few political details and too many personal ones.

I have to confess, though, that it was the personal insights that caught my eye as a career woman, a mother and the editor in charge of a staff and a magazine that has more readers than Alaska has residents. I am not a political commentator, so let me offer some personal observations of my own.


As a native of the tamer “lower 48” (with roots in some deep-blue states), I’m more likely to eat salmon than catch it. So I’m frankly fascinated by anyone whose résumé includes hauling fishing nets, hunting moose and panning for gold.

In my role as editor, I didn’t get bored (as one reviewer did) with Palin’s account of how she handled her duties as Alaska’s chief executive, from personnel matters to the economy. And I learned a thing or two about the oil-and-gas business. Plus, I can identify with Palin’s motivation for doing what she does: “What gets you excited to wake up in the morning?” she asks.

As someone who writes about family finances, especially children and money, I was impressed by the litany of jobs she held as a kid to pay for her own running shoes and other sports equipment: cleaning an office building every weekend, babysitting, waiting tables, picking strawberries, working in a grocery store. It took her five years to get her degree from the University of Idaho because she paid her own way, working between semesters to earn money for the next term.

As a career woman and a mother, I can appreciate Palin’s reaction when told that her son would be born with Down syndrome. No stoic acceptance or cockeyed optimism, but a very real “Why us?” followed by the concern of any mother in the same position: “I’ve got a tough job and other kids who need me. I just couldn’t imagine how I could add a baby with special needs and make it all work.”


As a fly on the wall, I was curious to read her version of the controversial Katie Couric interview and her appearance on Saturday Night Live. (Palin it seems, discovered her resemblance to Tina Fey before Tina discovered Sarah, and once dressed up as the SNL star for Halloween. “It didn’t take much costuming to do it,” she reports drily.) I hooted when she talked about sipping an icy Diet Dr Pepper. I’m a Pepper, too (and I’d recommend mixing it with the full-strength stuff).

Palin has been criticized for playing coy about her presidential intentions. But you can learn a lot by soaking up the details. Based on my close reading of Going Rogue, do I think Palin will toss her hair into the ring? You betcha.