The Nation: Sarah Palin: Rogue or Rouge?

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In this July 26, 2009, file photo, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gives her resignation speech during a ceremony in Fairbanks, Alaska where Palin turned over the governorship to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell. Al Grillo/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Al Grillo/AP
Sarah Palin

In this July 26, 2009, file photo, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gives her resignation speech during a ceremony in Fairbanks, Alaska where Palin turned over the governorship to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell.

Al Grillo/AP

Failed GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, whose new memoir, set to be released on Nov. 17, emphasizes her supposedly "maverick" tendencies with its title Going Rogue, has just dipped her toe into New York State politics. By endorsing a right-wing third party candidate, Doug Hoffman of the Conservative Party, in the Nov. 3 special election for the state's 23rd Congressional district seat, she has indeed bucked the party establishment — in order to advance a hard-line social conservative agenda. In the nonsensical Palin universe, that's what "rogue" means: walking in lockstep with the Christian right.

The Republican Party's candidate in the race, Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and has pledged to support the pro-union Employee Free Choice Act. While Scozzafava has been depicted as a radical leftist in the right-wing blogosphere, in fact she is a centrist with conservative leanings. The net effect of Palin's "rogue" intervention may be to split the conservative vote and help elect the Democrat in the race, Bill Owens, who maintains an edge over the other two candidates in the polls. Still, Hoffman has been gaining momentum, and — in a testament to Palin's enduring appeal to her devoted base — he's been raking in the campaign cash in the wake of her endorsement.

In her Facebook posting announcing her support for Hoffman this past Thursday evening, Palin wrote, "Our nation is at a crossroads, and this is once again a 'time for choosing.'"

I might not have put it exactly like that, but I agree.

When Palin's book Going Rogue comes out on Nov. 17, we're launching Going Rouge: Sarah Palin — An American Nightmare, a collection of pieces on Palin that I co-edited with Nation senior editor Richard Kim. Despite internet chatter suggesting that we might be trying to dupe unsuspecting hockey moms into buying our anti-Palin book, I think it's pretty clear from the thunderclouds and the subtitle that the cover's a satire. But the book is not a parody: it's a serious look at Palin's record, her policy positions, the meaning of her candidacy for feminism and her future in American politics.

It's also fair to ask who has been practicing the politics of deception here. Palin's entry onto the national stage was a Hollywood-style production, replete with a ready-made storyline, a speech carefully crafted by others and a brand new wardrobe. Many remarked at the time that she seemed more like an actress playing a candidate running for Vice President in a romantic comedy (albeit one who sometimes had trouble remembering her lines) than an actual candidate. And the image, more often than not, contradicted the reality. Given the misleading use of "rogue" in the title of her new book, it seems likely that it will merely offer more of the same.

Our book, by contrast, is reality-based. No ghostwriters or pricey political consultants were employed in its production, just hardworking journalists. Our purpose is to not to deceive but to clarify — to show Palin beneath the gloss. And to give people a choice on Nov. 17.

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