Last Tuesday at Town Hall, Al Gore explained that 99 percent of his new book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, is about solutions. He then proceeded to outline each chapter—in too-great detail—for the audience. This was a mistake, because Our Choice speaks eloquently for itself; it's a brightly illustrated, easy-to-follow textbook about the importance of environmental responsibility and energy independence.
Our Choice is even more impressive than An Inconvenient Truth, because it's all about improvement, with very little of what conservatives would dub "liberal whining." It also reframes political issues as moral imperatives; Gore advocates the education of young girls worldwide as a population-control issue, for instance, and he has rock-solid figures to prove the importance of that education. If the United Nations were to use Our Choice as an agenda for the next decade, the world would be much better off—cleaner, more peaceful, more prosperous—than it is now.
Gore is a great communicator—he speaks thoughtfully and with great exactitude—but he is not a charismatic one. His lecture was most interesting when he spoke about himself, as when he apologized for being a "nuclear pit bull" when he was a senator representing a part of Tennessee that was economically dependent on a nuclear reactor.
You won't find those kinds of canny, self-aware statements in Going Rogue, Sarah Palin's memoir (published, coincidentally, on the same day as Gore's appearance at Town Hall). Many bloggers have devoted themselves to uncovering all the factual inaccuracies in the book, and there are far too many to list here. Fewer critics have commented on Rogue's nasty tone. This book, ghost-written by a best-selling evangelical Christian author named Lynn Vincent, is a score settler and a blame passer.
A more hateful book won't be published in 2009. Palin spends the bulk of Rogue smearing her critics—an opponent is dismissed as a crazy woman obsessed with falafel, and Katie Couric is an opportunist who manipulated Palin's interviews into incoherence. She twice accuses the Obama campaign of stealing its "change" theme from her early Alaskan campaigns (unsurprisingly, she doesn't mention hope). When she discovers that her last son has Down syndrome, she seems most thrilled that she has a personal object lesson against pro-choicers. (Palin also proudly, and literally, uses her daughter Piper as a pro-life poster child.)
There is not one shred of that great conservative ideal, personal responsibility, in Going Rogue. When she's not wielding her children as clubs to prove political points (or complaining that the media can't stop writing about her children), Palin whines about her victimhood—at the hands of the press, McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt (who, she passive-aggressively notes, couldn't refrain from swearing in front of her children), and liberals—until the very end.