What Palin Reads

Some may recall that there was an episode of media hysteria a couple weeks ago over fears that the GOP vice presidential nominee couldn’t read — based upon Governor Palin’s failure (or refusal) in an interview with Katie Couric to name magazines and newspapers that had “formed her worldview”.

It seems, however, that back in 2007 Palin was asked by PBS late night discussion host Charlie Rose what her favorite authors were (around minute 3:14) and she listed two: C. S. Lewis and a Dr. George Sheehan who wrote about running and life.

While this will do little to change the impression (held by both Palin’s supporters and detractors) that she is not an intellectual, it strikes me that her response here actually tells us much more about her as a person than if she had answered Kouric’s question and revealed to the world whether she prefers the Wall Street Journal or Washington Post.

8 Responses to What Palin Reads

  • I hope you’re right. But the elitist in me still wishes she was able to name some magazine or thinker or journal she reads to inform herself. It’s not essential, but wouldn’t it be nice?

    At the time I imagined she was told not to say anything for fear of incriminating herself. But who knows, maybe she doesn’t read much. With 5 kids, it’s certainly understandable.

  • Exactly what magazines or journals produced by pagan modernity are worth basing one’s world views on? The Christianity that imbues works by CS Lewis and the life of George Sheehan is sufficient (and the ONLY thing on which we ought to base our world views). The great St. Paul was an apostle for Christ first and foremost, and a Roman secondarily. Liberal elitism that demands a pagan substitute for Christian virtues must be defeated – and in the end, it will be defeated, for we know the conclusion of the story – Christ wins, not some politician, left or right.

  • Zach,

    My impression from her picks (and how she described them) is that she is probably not an extensive or deep reader. I’d guess that like several Christian executive types that I know, she reads books and articles about Christian living (I’d bet she’s read Purpose Driven Life) and about her hobbies. She probably doesn’t read any particular newspapers or magazines all the time, but reads a lot of individual articles that get pointed out or emailed to her.

  • Ross Douthat has been on fire lately in his comments about the necessity of elites and the directions of anti-intellectual, populist party politics.

  • On fire he’s been, though I only agree with about half of what he has to say.

    I do certainly think that a party needs intellectuals (and to listen to its intellectuals — though I think many of the pundits streaming towards the exits of the conservative building have in fact failed, and long failed, to provide a coherent intellectual case for conservatism) but I’m not at all clear that the vice presidential or even presidential candidate need be intellectuals themselves.

  • I’ve been impressed with how swifty she has improved as the campaign has gone on. Her stump speeches are some of the best I’ve heard since Reagan rode into the sunset. She probably isn’t well read, but I believe she has a quick and agile mind. At 44 she is going to be a power in Republican politics and the nation for a long time to come.

  • But Darwin, certainly there is a difference between being an intellectual and being able to answer simple interview questions coherently. Palin’s inability to answer questions like ‘what kind of periodicals do you read?’ or ‘why have you cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia….?’ or questions on the bailout or Supreme Court cases suggested an ignorance deeper than ‘not being an intellectual.’ George Bush is no intellectual and he could have easily handled those questions.

    Douthat is simply acknowledging that Palin came across as woefully unprepared in those interviews. She has other talents, and, with time, she may develop her own voice and a coherent political philosophy. Nevertheless, she’s similar to a very talented high school basketball player at this point. She could be Kobe Bryant or she could be Kwame Brown.

  • Actually — it’s not so much Douthat’s assessment of Palin that I disagree with (I get the impression he’s still basically rooting for her but feels she was pulled national four years too early, which may be true) but his assessment of the important of figures like David Brooks and George Will and Christopher Buckley in the wider conservative movement. While I agree with Douthat that the movement needs its intellectuals, I don’t think those are necessarily important ones for the movement (nor that their departure on this campaign or even permanently is a bad sign) because I don’t think they agree with the modern conservative movement on many key issues.

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