Tuesday, January 18, 2011

America by Heart by Sarah Palin

Palin is convinced we are in danger of losing our American exceptionalism.
She is disturbed by President Obama's international apologies for America's actions. She says, “There has to be a middle ground, a way of talking about America that shows we are proud of her greatness but not blind to her flaws.” (63) “...[W]e have a special message for the world...a special mission to preserve our greatness for the betterment of not just ourselves but all of humanity.” (69) She longs for the time when America was striving to achieve noble goals.
Her message: America is a great country and with the right leadership we can evidence that greatness to the world. “...America yearns for a return to national leadership of the kind exemplified by Presidents Reagan and Kennedy; leaders who are not embarrassed by America, who see our country's flaw but also its greatness; leaders who are proud to be Americans...” (71) There is plenty of blame to go around for how we got here. “Americans know in their hearts that both political parties are at fault.” (261)
In danger “is our belief in free markets and good old-fashioned American hard work and ingenuity.” (80) “We can and should provide a safety net for those who stumble and fall. But we want the freedom to succeed...” (81) “At the heart of the American dream is the belief than anybody can succeed.” (84)
Palin defends the place of religion in America. “The Founders deliberately and self-consciously constructed a government based on the belief that religion was at the root of the personal and public virtues necessary to sustain freedom.” (192-3) She realistically adds, “No government of man can legitimately claim to represent the will of God, and no government in America can force its citizens to respect such a claim.” (203)
Palin calls herself a commonsense constitutional conservative, a concept that “is about rediscovering our founding ideals and striving to be a nation that does justice to them.” (269)
While Palin admits that America has made mistakes, she wants the country to return to its ideal of being a force for good in the world. She adds, “Yes, we make mistakes, and, no, we are not, nor do we wish to be, the world's sole policeman, banker, or nanny.” (264)
What do I think of this book? My two missionary sisters married Europeans. Because of that, I have often been enlightened as to the European view of America. It has not always been pretty. The rest of the world has not always appreciated the American idea that we know how to run the world better than everyone else. Palin knows the place she would like to see America have in world. I am not so sure that is a good idea, or even possible.
Palin's book has no footnotes, even though she quotes more than an entire page of a source. She does list her sources at the back of her book, but I'd rather have better documentation. (I know how easy it is to take statements out of context. That is why I always have page references in my reviews.) I find it amazing that Palin has become so literate in the last couple of years, reading so many books, magazines, and newspapers. Or does she have a good research staff and a terrific editor (dare I say unidentified co-author)?

HarperCollins Publishers, 272 pages.

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