The Going Rogue Book Tour Draws Crowds and Controversy

The acquisitions editors at the Harper Collins publishing house must be floating on cloud nine.

Initial sales for Sarah Palin’s new book, Going Rogue, released under the Harper Collins imprint, are going through the roof. The demand for the former Alaska governor’s political biography confirms what heartland conservatives have been saying since August 2008: this woman is hot! Three hundred thousand copies flew off the shelves on November 17, the day of release. Meanwhile, Harper Collins has announced another print run of 100,000 copies. This will put the total run of initial hardback volumes at 1.6 million. Online bookseller reports that online sales figures for Going Rogue made the title “one of our bestselling nonfiction books of 2009.”


In step with the latest in mass-marketing techniques, Governor Palin is now barreling full-steam through a high-profile nationwide book tour. Breaking out with a one-hour network interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Palin’s first-week media sit-downs included visits with Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Barbara Walters. Palin is also scheduled to visit 32 cities for book signings across the country. And first reports are phenomenal. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, thousands of enthusiastic supporters waited overnight, in 30 degree weather, at the Woodland Mall to meet the “hockey mom” from Wasilla.

The next day a crowd of 1,100 people showed up for a book signing in Noblesville, Indiana. As the Indianapolis Star reports:

Calling her devotees “hardcore patriots,” Palin arrived Thursday night at the Borders bookstore at Hamilton Town Center amid hundreds who chanted “Sarah! Sarah!”

It was among the first stops on a book tour to promote the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee’s best-seller, Going Rogue.

“My story. My words. Unfiltered,” Palin told more than 1,000 before signing copies.

“You guys are hardcore patriots, and I thank you so much for being here,” she said to fans as they waited outside.

“I wrote my book dedicated to good Americans like all of you; hard-working, patriotic Americans. … We had a great time a year ago in Indiana, but I think I’m having even more fun now.”

Palin was referring to last year’s campaign stop at the nearby Verizon Wireless Center, which drew 24,000.


Actually, the Indianapolis Star piece omits the controversy that followed after the Noblesville event. It turns out that hundreds of supporters (who had waited hours in line for wristbands) were stiffed by Governor Palin when she wrapped up the event at 9:00 P.M., before completing the book signings. By Thursday afternoon, Palin had issued an apology on her Facebook page. But YouTube videos now available online — featuring disgruntled signature-seekers booing and screaming “sign our books” — are providing the latest fodder for Palin’s political enemies on the radical left. Netroots bloggers are linking to unhappy comments left at the Facebook page by people turned away. Gleefully aggregating some of the disappointment, Rumproast blog claims to quote Tina Houser, who was a campaign volunteer for the McCain-Palin campaign last year:

I had been in line for hours and we were given a mass produced signiture sticker. There were some people who stood outside angry wanting to return your book. I already bought the book, all I wanted was to meet the woman and the family I have strongly supported over the last year.

It’d be easy to write off the left’s attention to those disappointed fans in Noblesville as more opportunistic smearing. But that would be a mistake. Governor Palin’s early exit from the book signing was a self-inflicted public relations fiasco (even the Los Angeles Times is reporting the story). It demonstrates that for all of her increasing maturity since bursting onto the national scene in 2008, Palin’s campaign juggernaut still needs a lot of polish.


And a (political) campaign juggernaut it is.

One of the most important observations about the Going Rogue book tour is that the schedule is booked heavily in conservative, GOP-leaning states. As Chris Cillizza points out, Palin will visit 31 counties in 25 states through December 11. Of those 31 counties, only 11 were carried by the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joseph Biden last November. Interestingly, Palin will not visit big liberal states like California or Massachusetts. This kind of scheduling is reminiscent of the campaign schedules of presidential candidates, when it makes no sense to travel and place ad buys in states that lean heavily toward the opposition party.

It’s thus extremely important for Palin’s handlers to nail even the finest details of the Going Rogue tour. For as much discounting, ridicule, and demonization directed at the former vice-presidential nominee, there’s actually no one in American politics who energizes partisans the way Sarah Palin does — and there’s no one in American politics who has endured a more coordinated, industrial-level operation of personal and political destruction than has Governor Palin. Not even President Barack Obama can claim to have been as heavily targeted for annihilation.

The national backlash against Newsweek’s recent cover smear against Ms. Palin is illustrative. The extreme double standard in the mainstream media works to the advantage of the Democratic Party and its big-government agenda. And Newsweek‘s smear was actually tame compared to the Atlantics’s Andrew Sullivan and his double-barreled preview of the forthcoming earthquake of hatred that will tumble down on Sarah Palin for as long as she remains in public life.


Of course, this leftist campaign of personal and political destruction is perhaps the best reminder of Governor Palin’s extremely auspicious prospects. Andrew Malcolm, noting how intensely the White House watches Palin’s every move, reported that “President Obama’s Organizing for America is now using the threat of Republican Sarah Palin as an opportunity to acquire more [campaign contributions].” It turns out that OFA operatives have put out the call for donations from millions of Democratic supporters to fight Palin, who is now sucking up media time like a industrial-strength power vac.

Although the Democratic National Committee dismisses Palin as an ignorant non-factor, it’s invested way more time and effort this week attacking Palin than selling Obama, who was on another overseas publicity trip of his own.

Thus, hold on to your hats. Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue book tour is a pretty good indicator of the face of American politics about 13 months from now, when campaigning for Iowa and New Hampshire will begin in earnest.


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