Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin
By Frank Bailey with Ken Morris & Jeanne Devon
Reviewed by Steven R. Maher
I almost feel sorry for Sarah Palin.
Palin has been bashed since John McCain made the questionable decision to make her his Vice Presidential running mate in 2008. Then there was Joe McGinnis’s book “The Rogue: the Search for the Real Sarah Palin”, the recent HBO movie “Game Change” depicting her as a total airhead, and now Frank Bailey’s “Blind Allegiance.”
Bailey’s book is far superior to McGinnis’ book or the movie. McGinnis was on the outside looking in; much of his book was questionable speculation. Bailey was with Palin from the start, an insider in her 2006 race for Governor, director of boards and commissions in Palin’s brief two year administration, and a Christian evangelical who was a true believer in Palin’s platform of fiscal conservatism. His account of her is therefore all the more damaging.
The book is based primarily on 50,000 emails Bailey saved over the years. The emails between Palin, Bailey, and other Alaska political figures are quoted at length. This technique can try the reader’s patience. This book is overwritten from the perspective of someone who reads for enjoyment, but it will be a valuable resource for historians. It speaks to Palin’s own inexperience and lack of judgment as a political operative that she put so many highly revealing remarks, quoted by Bailey, in writing.
Reagan on high heels
Palin became renowned in Alaska when she resigned a $124,000 a year job on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and exposed the corruption of fellow commission member Randy Reudrich, who was also Chairman of the Alaska Republican Party. Palin launched an insurgency within the Republican Party against Republican Governor Frank “Murky” Murkowski, a Nixon-style figure known for his corruption and nepotism. Murkowski actually had the nerve to appoint his own daughter to fill his vacant U.S. Senate seat. Palin alleged that Murkowski was “shafting” Alaska taxpayers by favoring breaks to large oil companies.
Bailey saw Palin as a “Reagan on high heels” and called her at home to offer to work in her campaign. After an exchange of emails, he attended in November 2005 a Palin fundraiser in Wasilla, the town where Palin was Mayor.
Bailey introduced himself to Palin and said, “I can paint. Clean floors and toilets. Wash windows.”
“[M]y sincerely naïve offer struck the right cord,” recalled Bailey. “With little more than this brief introduction Sarah invited me inside the campaign. As I’ve learned since, only in Alaska is it possible to be invisible one day and in the middle of a political movement the next.”
Bailey’s book describes an insurrection within the Alaska Republican party led by Palin. It was a real grass roots rebellion by fiscal conservatives, “a seat of the pants operation” micromanaged by Palin. Bailey describes how the campaign purchased a machine to make their own campaign buttons, and searched through sofa cushions for coins to put in parking meters, rather than paying for more expensive garage parking. “Literally, we were a campaign for which a $100 outlay might require the attention of Sarah, me, and as many as three or four others,” said Bailey.
“However, our seat-of-the-pants operation suited us,” continued Bailey. “I believed that the we operated was how government should be run and would be run under Sarah Palin: cutting waste and chopping expenses to the bone; fiscal conservatism at its finest. Sell assets, reduce government, and simply do more for less.”
Disillusionment set in. Palin turned out to be quite the diva; she was given to rages against subordinates, friends, and above all, political enemies. She was ultra-sensitive to any form of criticism, whether it was coming from newspaper editorials, talk show hosts, or Internet bloggers. Bailey spends much of this book relating how Palin would order her subordinates to respond through surrogates to political criticism, no matter how minute or inconsequential.
Bailey himself appears like a cult member, blindly obeying and doing Palin’s bidding, no matter how distasteful he found it. Reading between the lines, one gets the impression that Bailey was in love with Palin and found himself being led around like a lovesick puppy.
Bailey does clear up some misconceptions about Palin, He wrote that the rumors that Palin’s youngest child, Trig, was actually the daughter of Palin’s daughter Brisol, are completely false. McGuiness in his book gave this canard some credence.
Writing about Palin’s famous stumble with Katie Couric, Bailey said that Palin read Alaska’s daily newspapers every day and received a summary report on what was said by other media outlets. But Palin, demonstrating an understandable inferiority complex about relying on Alaska’s local media, made the disastrous decision to evade the question rather than answer it truthfully. If Palin had told the truth, the entire matter would have been ignored.
There are some good things that can be said about Sarah Palin. She had the courage to lead a successful insurgency against a corrupt political establishment dominated by her own party, speaking out when others remained silent. Finding out during her pregnancy that the child she was carrying had Down’s syndrome, Palin made the courageous decision to have the child instead of aborting it.
But she clearly is unqualified intellectually and temperamentally to be President of the United States. Which is to bad for the Republican party, because America as a whole would benefit if someone with Sarah Palin’s charisma would lead fiscal conservatives to take back the Republican party from the warmongers and deficit producing supply-siders who have hijacked it.