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Book Review: “Rebuttal to the Rogue,” by Malia Litman

March 19, 2010

Sarah Palin’s nomination by John McCain as his running mate was very quickly picked up in the media as an effort to get the vote of women, after the elimination of Hillary Clinton in the primaries. Malia Litman, like many of us, had never heard of Sarah Palin before McCain’s choice. Litman’s book, “Rebuttal to the Rogue,” is an effort to sum up what McCain’s choice meant to his candidacy, his credibility and to the women he was so blatantly pandering to.

Sarah Palin refuses to give up her quest for attention– her latest grab for a few more moments of exposure, a reality TV show, but her continued flailing about in the spotlight, her evolution into a one woman side-show, really overshadows the more important point. “Rebuttal to the Rogue” reminds us that what we need to focus on is Sarah Palin’s nomination. She came very close to a very high office despite the fact that she probably couldn’t have spelled “president” before her nomination. How did it happen? And better yet, why?

Roughly the first half of “Rebuttal to the Rogue,” is devoted to the question that followed Palin’s nomination. Namely: “Who is this woman and why is she suddenly a nominee for VP?”

Litman attempts to catalogue the skeletons that came pouring out of Sarah’s soon to be overstuffed closets, though as anyone who has tried knows, this is an unending task. For the purposes of her analysis of McCain’s campaign, she wisely sticks to the stuff that was known before election day– in other words, the stuff that old fraud McCain would have known had he done any vetting of her. It’s a little trip down memory lane to the scandals of Sarah Palin’s Alaska past.

There’s her abuse of power in attempting to ban books as mayor, to her harassment of Walt Monegan in what became known as “Troopergate.” There’s her strangely timed building of her house that handily coincided with the badly botched sports complex deal which sunk the town deep in debt and legal fees. There’s her real record on earmarks (gimme, gimme) vs. her professed distasted for pork. Her obviously false story of the birth of her fifth child also makes an appearance. Oh, and don’t forget the Couric interview, a performance so disastrous that comedian Tina Fay didn’t change a word when she made it into a SNL skit. There has been so much more scandal and stupidity from Palin since the election, but for purposes of a McCain campaign post-mortem, which is largely what this book undertakes, the important things about Palin were the ones McCain should have known.

What we found out in the days after he picked Sarah Palin revealed as much about McCain as about his running mate, possibly more. It became obvious pretty immediately that McCain had little more information about Palin than the rest of us did. Some of the scandals that emerged as soon as anyone so much as turned over a rock up in Alaska would have disqualified her instantly had he thought to check. So, why did he pick her, and better yet, what do his reasons tell us about John McCain’s real motivations and thoughts?

Sarah Palin was the political equivalent of a “trophy wife.” She was the “trophy VP.” McCain already had his “trophy wife,” having quickly rid himself of his crippled forty-something first wife to take up with an heiress and swimsuit model whose trust fund would buy him access to all the important circles that would lead to his political career. The man who swaps out his wife for a newer model whose money he can use to further himself has already given a pretty clear signal as to his low regard for women. Cindy McCain’s presence in the campaign as designer-clad cypher was the first hint of what he thinks a woman’s place is.

So what of the same man who picks a former beauty queen about whom he knows virtually nothing to be his running mate for President of the United States? She was supposed to get the female vote because she was female and we all know that the only thing women care about when they make a decision who to vote for is gender, right? And they put her in cute outfits and got her a spray tan, and yummy pumps. Surely women wouldn’t look beyond that. Litman, an attorney, registered nurse, and mother, was, like many of us, stunned by McCain’s slap in the face to American women. It turned out that he expected his VP nominee to take a similar role to the one his wife had long held. She wasn’t to give interviews, or press conferences. She was supposed to stand on stage and look cute.

Oh, and win over Hillary voters. Because women who wanted to vote for Clinton were most impressed by gender and outfits and a little woman who can smile and pageant wave while staying silent? One wonders if he was aware of who Hillary Clinton is. Maybe that’s why, as Malia Litman points out, the female vote was disproportionately Obama’s. In contrast to McCain, Barack Obama has a lovely wife who is successful in her own right and who is truly a role model for women and girls. He trusts her to have her own views and express them in public.

Palin’s nomination was an insult to women. But what about what it said about John McCain’s respect for male GOP voters? One is reminded of Rich Lowry and his “little starbursts.” As if the only thing male voters really wanted from a VP candidate was some cute winking. We aren’t going to belabor this too much because the mental image of GOP pundits sitting in front of their TVs with “little starbursts” just starts to suggest rather too much. Let’s all hope they aren’t really that stupid.

John McCain has yet to apologize for the insult to the American people, and more emphatically, American women that his choice of Sarah Palin embodied. The arrogance of a man who believed that all he needed was a trophy candidate to win over women voters is astonishing, and Malia Littman, like many women, is still insulted. More than anything else John McCain has ever done, his choice of Palin revealed him as unfit for the office he sought. It is shameful that he continued the farce long after he knew he’d made a disastrous error.

While asking her to step down would have been an admission of his lack of judgement, his allowing the whole ridiculous thing to continue proved his lack of judgement anyway. Moreover, it proved he is a craven fraud. He should hide his face in shame for the rest of his days. “Rebuttal to the Rogue” is a good reminder of McCain’s contempt for the American public, and how he chose a VP to shove it in our faces. Litman’s book asks us to consider Sarah Palin’s candidacy– not just the spectacle it turned into– and what it says about the prospects of serious female candidates in the future. Palin as VP nominee was purely theatre of the absurd, and she brought out the ugliest features of the American political landscape. Surely we can do better. Not just women, but as a country.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 19, 2010 11:15 pm

    i agree with this completely, and i’d LOOOOOVE to read the book. she’s done nothing but lie, scheme, and cover up since mccain picked her. i still don’t understand the reasoning. i think they put him in the middle of a circle of women, and he spun around a few times and whoever his finger landed on, he chose. spin-the-mccain. i knew about her from the aerial hunting program in AK (defenders of wildlife made a HUGE deal out of that), so when mccain chose her, i was turned off completely. and i’m glad that i was. i may not agree with everything president obama’s doing, but i can at least respect the fact that he’s trying.

    great post!

    • palinoscopy permalink*
      March 20, 2010 3:10 pm

      The book is available at Amazon, and you could also request that your local library get a copy. Many library systems even have an online request for books patrons would like to see added to their collections. My local library is very good about this sort of thing.


  1. More Praise for “Rebuttal to the Rogue” « Malia Litman's Blog

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