Surely you’ve been wondering lately, “HMMM, what makes better Hanukkah reading: Sarah Palin’s new book, or that infinite library of Wikileak’d State Department telegrams?” If you enjoy endless Reports of the Obvious (“TOP SECRET: Arabs don’t like Iran!”) and the occasional bitchy gossip item (“Vladimir Putin: DRAG QUEEN BY NIGHT, or so I’ve heard”), go with the Wikileaks document dump. If you prefer something more Exceptionally American Exceptionalist, go with eight copies of America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag by our tawdry nation’s premier media figure. What lurks therein, to degrade civilization and the human soul?
America by Heart is, as its subtitle promises, a book of “reflections,” Sarah’s Thoughts on Everything. It hardly needed to be 269 pages, though. She could have pared this thing down to essentials instead of just restating her Important Thoughts in varying ways over nine chapters. But what ARE those Important Thoughts?
First, Sarah wants you to be Henry Fonda:
There was a time when our popular culture shared the American people’s admiration of our fighting men and women. They didn’t just mouth words about “supporting the troops” while they trashed everything our soldiers were fighting for, the way they do today. Even Hollywood celebrities risked their lives…Jimmy Stewart….Henry Fonda…Later, Elvis Presley…
Got that, soldier? Being Henry Fonda is all well and good until you spawn Hanoi Jane, of course. Before you know it your offspring will be cavorting nude in space and filming romantic comedies opposite Robert Redford. Oh God, and then there’s PETER Fonda to deal with…I don’t think Sarah knows what she’s getting herself into here.
Remember Hillary Clinton’s famous rant, when her husband was running for president, that she wasn’t, in her words, “some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette?” Hillary is someone I like and admire personally in many ways, but she came across then as someone frozen in an attitude of 1960s bra-burning militancy.
Hillary is a fire-breathing radical! Who knew? This particular fragment comes from a chapter titled “Rise of the Mama Grizzlies,” which Sarah spends telling us she’s super-feminist. But not the wrong kind of feminist.
“Liberal feminism,” she writes, “tells American women that they can’t value life and call themselves women.” Hmm?
The rest of the book is mostly devoted to “faith,” Ronald Reagan worship and vague implications that Sarah Palin is somehow exactly like Margaret Thatcher.
Also, America sure is XXXceptional! Just ask 19th-century traveling French person Alexis de Tocqueville:
Tocqueville said that three things—American customs (particularly our religious heritage), law (particularly our commitment to federalism, or states’ rights), and geography combined to make “the position of the Americans…quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one..”
Tocqueville’s vision of an exceptional system of government combining with an exceptional people to produce an exceptional country is echoed in the writings of American scholars today. Sociologist Charles Murray explains…
We won’t go on to the Murray quotation, but Sarah is correct here. Alexis the Frog did indeed see America as different from pretty much every other society in history. That’s why he wrote the following:
I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America…
In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them. Not that he is in danger of an auto-da-fé, but he is exposed to continued obloquy and persecution. His political career is closed forever, since he has offended the only authority that is able to open it. Every sort of compensation, even that of celebrity, is refused to him.
That part, strangely, isn’t quoted in America by Heart. Or in any of the meaningless articles and books that try to present Tocqueville as some kind of 100%-approving America-booster eager for the whole world to adopt our ways.
Anyway, Sarah Palin has no problem with the compensation of celebrity, and that’s why people are buying this hard-bound Facebook post. Jesus Christ…
SPEAKING OF JESUS CHRIST, we’re in the middle of a Jewish festival of lights, are we not? So Happy Hanukkah to Wonkette’s Hebrew readership! Why not redeem this sordid fish-in-a-barrel blog post with a seasonal poem written by criminally neglected American poet Charles Reznikoff?
In a world where each man must be of use
and each thing useful, the rebellious Jews
light not one light but eight—
not to see by but to look at.
Charming, don’t you think?
America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag by Sarah Palin, HarperCollins, 269 pages, $12.99