23 January 2010

Virtuous ignorance

'A book that begins with Governor Palin visiting the Alaska Right to Life booth at the 2008 state fair ("With their passion and sincerity, the ladies typified the difference between principles and politics") clearly isn't aiming to pander to liberal trespassers among its readers. Her encounter with the sincere and passionate ladies, and the jangling false antithesis between "principles" and "politics," which goes little further than the fact that both words begin with a p, sound the opening notes of Palin's dominant theme, as she markets her brand of "Commonsense Conservatism."

Commonsense Conservatism hinges on the not-so-tacit assumption that the average, hardworking churchgoer, like the ladies at the booth, equipped with the fundamental, God-given ability to distinguish right from wrong, is in a better position to judge, on "principle," the merits of an economic policy or the deployment of American troops abroad than "the 'experts'"—a term here unfailingly placed between derisive quotation marks. Desiccated expertise, of the kind possessed by economists, environmental scientists, and overinformed reporters from the lamestream media, clouds good judgment; Palin's life, by contrast, is presented as one of passion, sincerity, and principle. Going Rogue, in other words, is a four-hundred-page paean to virtuous ignorance'

- Jonathan Raban reviews Sarah Palin's Going Rogue, New York Review of Books, 14 January 2010

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