Veteran political blogger and Daily Caller contributor Matt Lewis has come out with an unconventional book on an unconvential politician. The Quotable Rogue: The Ideals of Sarah Palin in Her Own Words compiles quotes by and about the former Alaska governor. I had an email exchange with Lewis about the book, its format, and, above all, its subject.
WJA: Why a book compiling quotes by and about Sarah Palin rather than a
more conventional biography?
ML: There have already been some really good books about Palin written,
but the problem is that the people who will sit down and read a
biography of Sarah Palin probably already have a strong opinion of
her. My hope is that The Quotable Rogue reaches some of her more
casual fans, as well as average folks who want to learn more about
her, without the mainstream media’s filter.
WJA: How do you explain Palin’s unique grip on the American political
psyche, both among those who love her and those who hate her?
There are many substantive and interesting reasons for Palin’s appeal,
but the most overlooked reason may simply be that she has star power.
This is a hard quality to define. It’s like asking, “Why do people
like Oprah Winfrey?” Some people just have it and some people just
don’t. And Sarah Palin has it.
ML: In what ways is Palin better off for having been picked by John
McCain in 2008? In what ways is she worse off?
ML: This is a great question, and you’re the first person to ask me it. I
think that it’s entirely possible that Sarah Palin could have served a
couple terms as governor and then sort of faded quietly into
obscurity. On the other hand, she had an eighty-eight percent approval
rating in Alaska when McCain picked her. It’s possible that she would
have been a successful two-term governor — and then made the leap to
the national stage on her own terms. It’s impossible to predict what
might have been.
WJA: There’s so much competition, it may be hard to narrow down, but
what is the most unfair criticism of Sarah Palin?
ML: The most unfair criticisms are the downright lies. They claimed she
wanted to ban books. They claimed Trig wasn’t her son…
WJA: What is the fairest criticism?
ML: Some of the fair criticisms have to do with her strategic decisions. I
think it is fair to question whether or not some of the strategic and
tactical decisions she has made were politically sagacious. I’ve done
that on occasion.
WJA: Has Michele Bachmann succeeded Palin, or is there still room for
her in the 2012 GOP presidential field?
ML: There is definitely still room for Palin. She can still win this thing.
WJA: Any insight as to whether she will run?
ML: I go back and forth on that question. My guess is very few people
really know what she is going to do. She moves in mysterious ways.
WJA: What is the most important thing people will learn from reading
The Quotable Rogue?
ML: Sarah Palin is much more intelligent and eloquent than she has been portrayed by the media.
WJA: What is your favorite non-Palin quote in the book?
ML: Hillary Clinton’s comment that “We should all be proud of Governor
Sarah Palin’s historic nomination…”
WJA: What did Governor Palin tell us about what a President Palin
would look like?
ML: The best predictor is to look to Alaska — where she took on the
establishment insiders and accomplished some incredible successes.
WJA: What did you think of Palin’s Newsweek photo spread? Do you give any credence to the argument that things like the photo shoot and the reality TV series make her seem less presidential?
ML: The new Newsweek cover was terrific. It presented her as a very real person. Most traditional male politicians would die for a magazinecover like that. There’s a reason presidents like to be photographed doing things like clearing brush. In this political milieu, the worst thing to be pictured in is a business suit — which is probably whyMitt Romney seems to have abandoned the necktie. The notion advanced by some in the media that this was somehow “unpresidential” was truly surprising to me.