By Jason Horowitz and Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Is there anything America doesn't already know about Sarah Palin's memoir?
A publicity juggernaut leaking news about campaign infighting and media bashing has distracted from the author's most revealing passages, which dwell on God, Todd and dominion over animals.
It's an Alaskan frontierswoman's trinity that comes into view in the earliest pages of "Going Rogue: An American Life," which The Washington Post purchased a day before the official sale date planned by publisher HarperCollins. Right away, Palin posits her faith as the pillar of her career, as if her successes have unfolded according to a grand divine plan. Her selection as McCain's running mate was a "natural progression," she writes in one section. "I don't believe in coincidences," she writes in another.
Palin writes that her family arrived in the remote Alaskan frontier town of Skagway six days after an earthquake had struck the state on Good Friday, and describes the northern lights as "shimmering like the hem of Heaven." She says that during Bible camp in a place called Big Lake one summer, she made the decision to "put my life in my Creator's hands and trust Him as I sought my life's path," and that when a nun taught her how to write the letter E, it "seemed a naked letter to me so I was determined to reinvent it." (She "improved it with at least a few more horizontal lines," she writes.) She loved to read "anything by C.S. Lewis."
She movingly asks "Why, God? Why?" when her doctor informs her of her miscarriage by saying "there's nothing alive in there." To tell her children that their brother will be born with disabilities, she pens a letter in the voice of "Trig's Creator, Your Heavenly Father."
That zeal carries through to the 2008 campaign, when she relates that she took a call from Pastor Rick Warren while she was showering. He offered to pray with her. "I said, absolutely! Pray away!" Palin writes. "I would never turn down prayer even with limited hours in a campaign day, standing in a few inches of water with a shower curtain for a wardrobe. You do what you've got to do."
The two most powerful forces in Palin's life converged as she sat in her high school gym and first put eyes on Todd Palin.
"I actually whispered, 'Thank you, God,' " confides Palin.
She writes that she really knew that he was the one for her when "he told me he had become a Christian and had been baptized at a sports camp."
But Palin also shares how Todd was rather uncharitable toward her when he told his locker-room buddies that Sarah "didn't even know how to kiss."
"My young, crushed spirit learned a lesson about guys that day: even the good ones can act like jerks," she writes.
Todd's good attributes made up for his shortcomings then, as they apparently still do today. "That day in sunny Texas when divorce rumors were rampant in the tabloids, I watched Todd, tanned and shirtless, take the baby from my arms and walk him back to the ranch house so Trig could nap while I made calls," she writes. "Seeing Todd's blue eyes smiling, I chuckled.
"Dang, I thought. Divorce Todd? Have you seen Todd?"
Palin asserts herself as a woman of appetites. "I love meat," Palin writes. "I eat pork chops, thick bacon burgers, and the seared fatty edges of a medium-well-done steak. But I especially love moose and caribou. I always remind people from outside our state that there's plenty of room for all Alaska's animals -- right next to the mashed potatoes." She includes a color photo of her with her left foot on a caribou that "I just shot. It may not look like a trophy but it's good eating."
The author frequently demonstrates that she has never been squeamish. In one photo, she stands, as little girl, beside another dead caribou tied to a car. In a photo on the same page, her father demonstrates to little Sarah and other preschool friends how to skin a harbor seal. (In the caption to the photo, there is a careful clarification that this was before the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 banned the practice, and "Grandma Sheeran sewed coats and mittens for us out of the hides.")
In another section, Palin writes about the time her father took her on an early weekday hunting expedition, during which he killed and field-dressed a moose.
"Here, hold these," he said, in her account. "I want to show them to my science class today."
"I looked down to see the moose's eyeballs lying in his palm, still warm from the critter's head," she writes, adding later, "I had my limits."