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Tim Rutten on Sarah Palin: Cunning, off the charts

December 1, 2010 |  1:26 pm

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In our pages, the L.A. Times' Tim Rutten reviews Sarah Palin's "America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag," giving her high marks for cunning, if not sincerity.

Two interesting things stand out in this latest manifesto (and, make no mistake, that's what it is): One is that Palin clearly has widened her circle of advisors, at least when it comes to her uncredited ghost writers, who have stitched a veritable laundry list of current conservative preoccupations into "America by Heart," along with extended quotations from an array of figures, including Margaret Thatcher, James Q. Wilson, poet Karl Shapiro and all the requisite Founders and Framers (De Tocqueville too, of course). The other -- and perhaps most instructive -- thing to be gleaned from this book is just how shrewd a politician Palin is. Professional political consultants sometimes like to talk about a candidate's "RLC quotient." The acronym stands for Rat-Like Cunning -- and it's meant to be a compliment indicating not only a deep instinctual shrewdness but also a willingness to fight ruthlessly when forced.

Off the evidence in "America by Heart," Palin's RLC quotient is off the charts...

When Palin resigned as governor of Alaska, a number of experienced pundits firmly opined that she'd committed political suicide. They didn't reckon on her shrewd political instincts, which were telling her — correctly, as it turns out — how much easier it would be to seek the presidency as the unaccountable symbol of a populist upwelling than it would be from the statehouse.

Is anyone likely to pick up Sarah Palin's "America by Heart" who isn't already in her corner? Perhaps -- if there is anyone left in the country who hasn't yet decided what they think of the polarizing, highly visible former governor of Alaska.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Sarah Palin speaks at an Iowa Republican Party fundraising dinner in September. Credit: Steve Post / EPA

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