My column plumbs the amazing powers of a certain someone:
Palin is indeed a feisty Alaskan and a genuine triumph of red-state feminism. But her narrative is embellished and embroidered to such an extent, it resembles not so much a memoir as a work of magical realism.
If you treat it as a factual narrative you will soon falter. Among the few early reactions were those of Nicolle Wallace a McCain campaign staffer who said of one passage: “It is pure fiction. No such discussion took place.” A reporter Palin says targeted her daughter Piper after a press conference was never at the press conference cited. Palin’s claim that she was personally billed $50,000 for vetting is point blank denied by the McCain campaign. Palin’s account of her record in the Exxon Valdez lawsuit was described last week by the chief lawyer for the case as “the most cockamamie bullshit”. I could go on.
None of this is particularly surprising. Palin has a long and documented record of saying things that are empirically untrue but asserting them as if her own imagination is the only source of objective reality. So you simply read the book as if it is fiction and enjoy it. Or you read it as non-fiction and believe that Palin is a magical mythical figure who defies the laws of time and space and normal human nature.
Take one story that every mother will relate to: the drama of her delivery of her fifth child, Trig.
She tells us that at eight months pregnant with a child she knew had Down’s syndrome and would need special care at birth, she got on a plane from Alaska to Dallas, Texas, to attend an energy conference. Most airlines won’t allow this but Alaska Airlines did. Palin then tells us that at 4am on her first night in Dallas, “a strange sensation low in my belly woke me and I sat up straight in bed”. In an interview she gave with the Anchorage Daily News just after Trig’s birth, she confirmed that she had amniotic fluid leaking at that point.
So she was a mother eight months pregnant with a special-needs child thousands of miles from home. She wakes up in the middle of the night with contractions and amniotic leakage and she tells her husband she doesn’t want to call her doctor because it would wake her up at 1am. And she is the sitting governor of a state and her doctor is a close personal friend. Not only that, but she gives the speech as planned in the afternoon, during which she makes a rather good joke. She then tells us what happens next: “Big laughs. More contractions.”
After the speech, does she then go to a local hospital to get checked out? Nah. She gets on two separate aeroplanes all the way back to Alaska, with a stopover in Seattle, because she is determined to have the child in her home town and she just knows that the contractions and amniotic leakage are not signs of imminent delivery. She has had four previous kids so she has experience. “I still had plenty of time ... It was a calm, relatively restful flight home,” she explains of the next 15 hours.
You might imagine that an airline would have some qualms about letting a woman in some sort of labour at eight months, and pregnant with a Down’s syndrome child, get on a long transcontinental flight. What if the baby were born in mid-flight? The plane would have to be diverted. What if something happened to the baby? The airline could be liable. Palin never told the flight attendants. Couldn’t they tell, one might innocently ask. In the Anchorage Daily News story about the birth, Alaska Airlines said: “The stage of her pregnancy was not apparent by observation. She did not show any signs of distress.”
Palin makes Xena, the warrior princess, seem fragile.
The full column here.