What the Palin PAC's Book Binge Really Means

Palin's not a con, but she may have an agenda

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Will there ever be a day without Sarah Palin news? The blogosphere is now abuzz about word that Palin's political action committee, or PAC, spent over $60,000 buying copies of Palin's book, Going Rogue, to send to donors as an incentive. Of course, the optics are ugly. But there's a consensus that the purchase isn't unusual, and isn't an underhanded way to boost sales--Going Rogue sold 700,000 copies in the first week. What it does suggest to pundits is the Palin camp's focus on Palin to the neglect of the broader GOP.

  • What It Looks Like: Sleazy Wonkette's Jim Newell neatly summarizes what the news looks like at first glance:
Get donations, buy tons of your own books with those donations, and then offer donors direct-mailed copies of the books that they can purchase by... donating more! The authors get more royalties and can brag about how they all reached #1 bestseller status in the New York Times, despite its liberal math policies, and the fact that books are gay and elitist, etc.
  • What It's Not: Illegal, Uncommon, or a Cheap Trick to Boost Sales Conservative Hot Air's Ed Morrissey debunks. Joe Lieberman did the same thing during a Senatorial re-election bid, he points out. "He didn't take royalties off of [the book] sales, but ABC also acknowledges that they don't know if Palin did, either. And since she's a private citizen, it really doesn't matter if she did or didn't," at least not where the law is concerned. Nor does this seem like a bid to inflate selling numbers on Going Rogue: dividing the sum spent by the price of the book, Morrissey calculates that the PAC bought "less than 4700 books--hardly an effort to pull a Dianetics-like dodge and artificially keeping it on bestseller lists."
  • What It May Be: A Sign of the PAC's Single-mindedness Katie Connolly at Newsweek has a different idea. She, the Atlantic's Chris Good, and MSNBC's Domenico Montanaro all pick up on news that the Palin PAC spent more money, total, buying Going Rogue than supporting other candidates. That suggests, says Connolly, that earlier speculation might be right: Palin "isn't particularly interested in helping her fellow GOPers out. She's in it for herself." Salon's Alex Koppelman agrees: though Palin was hailed as "the savior of [the] party ... she doesn't seem to be doing much on that score."
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