Last week, my 13 year old daughter Camille and I had the honor of going to Hollywood and seeing Dancing with the Stars in person as the guest of Bristol Palin. [Read more...]
I figure I’ll only be on reality TV once — unless I count Romper Room 1979, which I do — so I thought I’d share with you some photos from the show. [Read more...]
Wecome to the SixSeeds Summer Beach Book Giveaway! [Read more...]
When I flew to Alaska to help Bristol Palin write her memoirs, I had to keep it quiet. Our contracts hadn’t been signed, and discretion was warranted. So, I packed my warmest clothes for what I thought would be a one-week stay.
During my travels, I never offered information to the people I invariably encountered. The guy next to me on our very long flight, asked what was taking me to so far north.
“Just work,” I responded.
“So are you going to see Sarah Palin?” he asked, laughing.
“No,” I responded truthfully. In fact, I wasn’t sure if I was going to have access to Bristol’s famous mom. It was Bristol’s book, after all.
When I rented my car, the cashier asked the purpose of my trip.
“Work,” I said.
“What do you do?”
I hesitated, causing the rental guy to look at me quizzically. “Don’t tell me,” he said. “You’re stalking Sarah Palin.”
“Isn’t there anything in Alaska other than the Palin family?” I asked.
He looked me up and down, and noticed my Macintosh laptop. “I can just tell when people like you show up, they’re trying to get close to the Governor.” He continued, “Normally, they carry large cameras too. One reporter bragged that he could take a picture of her from clear across a football field.”
As I signed the contract for the car, he lowered his voice and gave me tips about where I might see the famous family. (This was in Anchorage, which is about an hour from Wasilla. But he still offered vague advice about her possible haunts.) In other words, he was just pretending to have “inside information” because he loved the former governor so much and wanted to be “connected.”
I drove off in my Ford rental car to the location. I figured I’d be staying at Bristol’s apartment somewhere, however my GPS took me straight up the driveway of Todd and Sarah’s house. I lived right there over the next month and got to know them, their extended family, and friends. We cheered Todd as he competed in the Iron Dog race, watched Piper play in her basketball games, lounged in front of reruns of The Office, took road trips, and ate moose hotdogs. I watched in amusement as Gov. Palin – the most controversial and famous politician in the nation – pumped her own gas, greeted the cashier cheerfully, and fussed over Trigg.
The Palins were hospitable, kind, open, and helpful… even though I was there to assist in telling a story that was painful but ultimately redemptive. Todd and Sarah responded with genuine warmth, concern, and kindness as we dredged up the details of events I’m sure they’d rather forget.
But every time I went out into the town, strangers tried to tell me stories – even though I tried to appear as disinterested as possible. Apparently my general appearance screamed “flatlander” – the rubber boots, the laptop, the constant chattering of my teeth. (They seem to consider anyone from the lower 48 a flatlander.) But even after I had a discount card for Carrs and an Alaska Grown shirt, a server at an Italian restaurant told me he could tell me that I was not from around there.
“Why do you say that?” I asked.
“Because you paid with an American Express,” he said definitively. “That’s a sure sign.” He then also pretended to know the Palins. “It’s too bad you’re here this week, because she’s in the states now,” he said with as much authority as a secretary consulting her boss’s calendar, though I’d just left Gov. Palin at her Alaskan home minutes before.
After a month, I heard lots of stories from people I met around town, those so eager to be connected to the Palins they pretended to have a connection. Everyone claimed to be related to them, know them, or have dealings with them. And even though I was trying desperately not to look like I cared about these stories, the anecdotes came anyway. Some were good, some were bad, few seemed even remotely reliable.
I write this because the guy who bought the house next door to the Palin family has finally published his book, which is based on the gossip he gathered from around the small town. The New York Times reports that Joe McGinniss used his time in Alaska “to chase caustic, unsubstantiated gossip about the Palins, often from unnamed sources like ‘one resident’ and ‘a friend.’” Imagine how much dirt he would be able to get, as a person desperate to get to know the “real Sarah Palin?” Especially since there’s apparently a cottage industry in Alaska dedicated to pretending to know the Palins.
I returned home to Tennessee after staying a month… I was happy to see my family and not so happy to receive a $500 fee at the short term airport parking lot. But I was thankful that the real Palins – the ones who treated me like one of the family for such a long visit – bore little resemblance to the Palins the random strangers tried to tell me about. I’m also thankful they bear no resemblance to the people Joe McGinniss is trying to tell people about.
I might be a flatlander, but even I can tell that.
I started my day today writing perhaps the most strident blog post I’ve ever written. I called it “The Betrayal of Michele Bachmann” and posted it in the Corner. I was responding to the Daily Caller’s anonymously-sourced allegations that Michele Bachmann is “incapacitated” by migraines she attempts to control though “heavy pill use” and pulled out (by my standards) all the rhetorical stops. I said the sources – former aides — were “cowardly,” called their betrayal “disgusting,” and even threw in a few exclamation points.
Why get upset? It’s politics, after all, what should I expect? As one commenter succinctly stated, “Heat. Kitchen.” I can also understand Ramesh Ponnuru’s argument — if the story is true, then inquiry is legitimate. Yet we’re so far from legitimate inquiry that we can’t see it with the Hubble telescope. And the reasons are simple: cowardice and evidence.
I don’t use the word cowardice lightly. Here we have former aides who say they’re “terrified” by her condition. They even deliberately chose to say that she’s “incapacitated” for days at a time and made vague accusations about pill use. Yet they can’t even muster up the courage to identify themselves? If the stakes really are so high, surely their patriotism would compel them to come forward so that we can ask some questions, weigh their credibility, and discern whether they had enough access to the candidate to know what she’s endured. By remaining anonymous we can’t cross-examine them (so to speak) and discover the truth.
Then there’s the evidence. Or lack thereof. Anonymous aides expressed terror at her condition, yet if you read the entire article you’ll find that she allegedly missed a grand total of one planned campaign event . . . in 2010. A second lurid tale concerns a migraine so bad that she merely “managed to attend several events in California, including an appearance before a California chapter of the Eagle Forum and a fundraiser in Palm Springs.” Oh, but she was “in pain throughout.” Nice to know.
Look, I’m not naive. I know that politics is a messy business and that reporters often live or die by anonymous sources. But we don’t have to play by those rules. We don’t have to stand by while honorable people are smeared by individuals who don’t have the courage to be named or the evidence to support their allegations.
Michele Bachmann has a personal story that Hollywood would love if she were liberal. A mother of five took in foster child after foster child, grew alarmed at the poor quality of their mandatory public education, and then launched herself into the political process to improve their lives. They’d pitch Julia Roberts for the part if Bachmann had only been crusading against a power plant or land development. As it is, she has to settle for the Palin treatment — from the Left and the Right.
Whether it’s Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, or Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, human beings deserve better treatment, but they’ll never receive it if we acquiesce to the politics of the gutter.
One final note: Before I get too carried away by exclamation points, I need to remember this cautionary tale:
After doing its best to destroy Sarah Palin, the secular Left is coming hard after Michelle Bachmann (with a strong assist from the MSM). In the Corner today, I discuss why:
Why the hate? The secular feminist world view was built around multiple destructive cultural lies: motherhood is a barrier to self-actualization, orthodox religion traps women unhappily in the home, and the only real path to power and happiness is exploding, not upholding, traditional religious values. Yet a mother of five (with 23 foster children), happily married in a Christian family, and who proudly espouses the very traditional values most repugnant to the academic feminist Left is a leading candidate for the most powerful office in the world. She is a living refutation of their foundational beliefs, and — like Sarah Palin — she must be destroyed.
Politico has a profile of yours truly, which begins:
Nancy French signed up to ghostwrite the memoir of a “young Christian person” earlier this year without knowing the identity of the author. To her surprise, she ended up working with a member of the Palin family.
“It turned out to be Bristol,” she said. So French, 36, moved from Tennessee to Alaska for a month to help the 20-year-old daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tell her story. A married mother of three, French with her husband recently co-wrote a book called “Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of War.”
“I had no idea I was going to be living with the Palins,” said French. But for a month, she slept in the building where Sarah Palin’s television studio is located next to the family’s home. On the shelves in the small compound: a pink BB gun, a painting of former President Ronald Reagan and a Bible with the name of the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee on the cover.
French had a seat at the family dinner table, where home-cooked meals like salmon and spaghetti were served. She described the inside of the Palins’ home as “not ostentatiously decorated” with “baby gates up and a big bear rug and an amazing view of a frozen lake.” Their kitchen featured a large island around which family and friends often gathered to chat.
Read it all here.