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Sarah Palin book: Ready to roll

In this book cover image released by Harper,
In this book cover image released by Harper, "Going Rogue: An American Life," by Sarah Palin, is shown. (AP Photo/Harper) (AP)
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Jason Horowitz
Washington Post staff writer
Friday, November 13, 2009; 2:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Jason Horowitz was online Friday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. ET to discuss "Going Rogue," the Sarah Palin book which comes out Tuesday.

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In the book, "Going Rogue: An American Life," Palin contends that the McCain campaign stuck her with a $50,000 bill for the cost of her own vetting, botched the announcement of her teenage daughter's pregnancy, outfitted Palin with all those infamous costly ensembles, and shielded her from reporters. Even so, Palin goes on to belittle two famous interlocutors, Katie Couric and Charles Gibson, according to the Associated Press, which found and purchased a copy of the book before its sale date.

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Jason Horowitz: Hi everyone, this is Jason Horowitz at the Post, here to talk about Sarah Palin's book, Going Rogue, which I haven't read yet, but which the AP and several Palin friends have. Happy to take your comments and questions.

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Springfield, Va.: I'm not saying that Palin should be POTUS but the only time that McCain led in the polls vs. Obama was for two or three weeks after naming Palin as his running mate. She gave his struggling campaign a shot of adrenaline. The slumping economy ended the McCain chances.

Jason Horowitz: That shot of adrenaline hasn't worn off yet. The public fascination with Palin, is why this book is selling so well, and talked about so much.

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Bemidji, Minn.: Even though Levi Johnston threatens to expose Sarah Palin, do you agree with this paper's Amy Argetsinger (The Reliable Source) who stated:

"Honestly, I don't think Levi has anything more. Vanity Fair practically had to lock him in a room for three days to coax out all the banal stories he shared for his big story last month (link to follow)... I don't think he's smart enough to hold more stuff back for a bigger paycheck."

Jason Horowitz: While I don't know what Levi knows, his high media profile these days (especially in some alternative, shall we say, publications) is still hounding Palin. In the Oprah Winfrey interview, Palin is asked whether she'd invite him to Thanksgiving dinner. After a long answer, she says that her family has no interest in drama. But drama -- often in the form of Levi -- sure seems to follow her family.

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Portland: Plenty of right wingers put their names on books, some even actually write them! Ann Coulter, O'Reilly, etc...the wingnuts snap them up and gee whiz, they make the best seller lists. Do any of the rest of us buy them? I don't, the commentary about them is enough.

Jason Horowitz: While I'm not sure that everyone who buys the book of a conservative author qualifies as a "wingnut," what is significant is that these books, just as books by proven liberal brands, have really only their base in mind as a target audience. In the case of a popular conservative figure like Palin, that is well enough for very impressive sales.

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New York: I know you haven't read the book, but does anyone reveal whether Palin has kind words for John McCain? It seems strange that she has such disdain for his campaign staff, but hasn't taken pains to separate McCain from their actions. I notice that his office declined comment on the campaign problems, and he has been noncommittal regarding her criticisms. Thanks.

Jason Horowitz: The one thing I hear over and over from former McCain campaign aides is that Palin shows no gratitude for McCain's virtual plucking of the former governor from out of the political abyss. I would be surprised if she doesn't have warm things to say about him, but the question is: does that matter if she is using the pages to settle scores with his campaign?

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Pittsburgh, Pa.: Since some pundits think the absence of an index in Palin's book is a slap at poDCers who would normally be inclined to check for their names first, how soon before someone compiles and posts an index online, as a public service?

Jason Horowitz: That post-publication index would be a lot of work, and I think there is an argument that the lack of an index in the book has less to do with any intention on Palin's part to upset DC insiders than to avoid that often laborious and time-consuming chore.

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Silver Spring, Md.: "That shot of adrenaline hasn't worn off yet." Any guess as to her long-term goals? I can't see her being taken seriously as a presidential candidate (walking away from the Alaska gov was a)bad form and b)the only claim to "experience" she had). I doubt any other presidential candidate would ask her to be his/her running mate. So that leaves me thinking she wants to make the most ($) of her 15 minutes of fame, and then disappear.

Jason Horowitz: I think this is the key question really regarding Palin. I think the 15 minutes of fame rule doesn't really apply anymore to her, she is now a household name, a celebrity, a fact of American life. But does that at all translate into political office? Palin did, after all, resign her office. And she is making a lot of money now. Not sure if running, and potentially losing, again is as attractive an option when you have a successful career as a media celebrity. Only she knows.

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San Francisco: How will Sarah's charges about the McCain campaign's legal bills for her Alaska vetting be resolved? In the first place, I don't recall GOP lawyers inundated Alaska before her selection as Veep. But has a campaign ever charged the candidate for vetting? And are we to believe the campaign's denial? Surely Sarah's publisher would fact-check something so black-and-white?

Jason Horowitz: Palin's claim that she was stuck with a $50,000 bill for her own vetting is the most charged accusation to come out of the excerpts so far. Several McCain staffers I spoke with said that it was blatantly untrue, and made the argument that Alaska lawyers tend not to be so incredibly expensive, and that the vetting process was -- as everyone remembers -- incredibly fast. It's hard to see how they would run up such a large bill.

But the former McCain aides also float that she is perhaps referring to the fees involved with defending herself from charges of ethical wrongdoing. That counterattack is just the sort of thing that exhausted McCain campaign veterans were hoping to avoid. And it's not exactly great for the Republican Party as they seek to win seat backs in 09.

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Rochester, N.Y.: Can you recall anything quite like this happening before, a former VP candidate exchanging wild charges with the man who picked her as his VP, while the father of her grand-daughter prepares to bare all for a magazine, the whole thing?

I don't mean exactly like this, but anything like this?

I, for one, find this all incredibly entertaining.

Jason Horowitz: I have a notion that the executives at HarperCollins, which published Palin's book, are banking that you are not alone.

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Alexandria, Va.: Of course only the AP has now read the book, but, not for nothing, is there something in there of value? At least what is being reported is the same petty back and forth we have been hearing since before the ticket lost the White House. This is Palin's platform. Other than slamming those who have been critical of her or shown her less bright light, does she have a point to make? She wants to be in the political fray; what are her profound thoughts? The media abused her; okay, if she had unadulterated access to the American people, what does she have to say?

Jason Horowitz: Supporters who have read the book but agreed to keep it confidential until sale date have said that it is an extremely personal text, by which they mean, not a lot of policy in there. That reinforces the criticism of Palin as essentially a political celebrity rather than a deep political thinker. But again, I haven't seen the book, and maybe there's a wonky follow up in the works.

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Austin, Tex.: To Springfield,

I vehemently disagree that the economy ended McCain's campaign. Sarah Palin ended McCain's campaign. Once the shock wore off, people realized that she wasn't qualified to hold the office of VP. That and Katie Couric.

Growing Doubts About McCain's Judgment, Age and Campaign Conduct (Oct. 28, 2008, Pew Research Center)

Jason Horowitz: There will be debate for a long long time about what caused McCain to lose. (One distinct possibility, an extremely popular Democratic candidate with a solid base and crossover appeal.) But there is no question that Palin seemed to at first really help McCain (a former colleague of mine declared the race over after her blockbuster convention speech) but then seemed to drift from asset to liability. The economy certainly didn't help though.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Maybe I am cynical, but I think it is all about the money. That being said, where have we heard this before? Use of social media like Facebook, best selling books, attaching oneself the the current "movement," Oprah...

Jason Horowitz: Right, Obama did use all these tools to get elected. But I think the point is more that anyone looking to promote anything -- from their political career, to house cleaning products to new music to news articles, to whatever -- now makes use of these tools when they can. Most have to settle for a Twitter of Facebook. But if you can get published and get on Oprah?

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Book Contents: Odd...Rush Limbaugh was just stating today that it is chock full of policy, and it shows what an utter policy wonk she is.

Jason Horowitz: Interesting. Again, we only know what the AP has reported (oh, to have been in the tiny airport bookstore that their reporter stumbled...) and it could very well be a policy tome. But her supporters have said it's more personal in nature.

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Personality clout vs. policy substance: That the book is largely personal doesn't surprise me. The personal aspect of Sarah Palin has been the most able to sustain her celebrity. She is a political animal, but relies on native, visceral manipulation vs. articulate reasoning to woo her fan base.

I truly can't see her running for office again anytime soon. She can make far money money, and arguably wield far more influence in the unfettered arena of media celebrity than she could as an elected official. Plus, the lack of accountability for her words and actions must be a nice plus now that she's not reporting to the public.

Rush Limbaugh is smart enough to mouth off from the sidelines of responsibility, and has become extremely powerful and wealthy while doing so. I can see that being a path Palin would want to follow.

Jason Horowitz: That Palin has a knack for gaining attention, and a real following, even outside of office is now demonstrated. But I'm not sure she can wield more influence outside of office than in, which was the reason her people gave for her resigning as governor. In the end, real influence on people's lives stays with those who make laws.

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Irvine, Calif.: Does the book discuss whether or not Palin regrets her decision to accept the Republican VP nomination? She seems to find so many aspects of it unfair and it would be difficult to argue that it wasn't detrimental to her family.

Jason Horowitz: My guess is that there are no regrets on that one.

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Jason Horowitz: Thanks for your questions and comments everybody. I look forward to doing it again soon.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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