Ronnie Polaneczky: Author: Palin was a tea-party animal!

Posted: September 15, 2011

WELL, LOOK who just got interesting!

According to Joe McGinniss, author of the soon-to-be-released The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, the former Alaskan governor, pit-bull hockey mom, vice-presidential candidate and tea-party darling was a wild thing back in the day.

In book excerpts printed yesterday by the National Enquirer, McGinniss reveals details of Palin's past that some will find salacious but I find run-of-the-mill. Or, rather, would find run-of-the-mill if Palin weren't such a morals-crusading conservative who shakes a finger at any behavior that doesn't harken back to a Norman Rockwell past that even she didn't live.

For example, while working in 1987 as a rookie sports reporter at Anchorage TV station KTUU, McGinniss says, Palin was quite taken with future NBA star Glen Rice, at the time a junior at the University of Michigan. While Rice was in Anchorage for a college tournament, McGinniss says - and Rice confirms - Palin hooked up with Rice, using her sister Molly's dorm room at the University of Alaska Anchorage to consummate the tryst.

For Palin's most conservative supporters, I imagine this revelation will raise moral questions of fidelity to her then-boyfriend, Todd Palin, whom she married just months later. And, perhaps, horror that the darling of the lily-white tea party once had a "fetish," as the book further reports, for black men.

Me, I don't care what two single and consenting adults of any color did with their time two decades ago. But I do have a burning question about that long-gone one-night stand:

Did they use the top or bottom bunk? I mean, Rice is 6 feet 8. Is it physically possible for him to be amorous in space that tight? I guess it doesn't matter, if you take the right approach to love, which I imagine Rice does. As his ex-wife, Cristy Rice, said in Season 1 of "The Real Housewives of Miami," "In my world, attitude is everything. I'm keeping it real."

I'm betting Rice kept it real for Palin.

McGinniss also claims that Palin smoked dope in college and once snorted lines of coke off an oil barrel, while snowmobiling with friends. My initial shock at these allegations has turned to empathy. If I were stuck in Alaska, spending long, miserable winters with a nincompoop like Todd Palin, I, too, might need a powdery aid to keep life fun between Iditarods. At least Palin wasn't sampling chemicals from one of the Wasilla area's many methamphetamine labs. That stuff'll kill you.

She was, though, sampling the affections of Todd's business partner, McGinniss writes. The alleged affair with Brad Hanson lasted six months. Palin, of course, was middle-aged by then, so I assume bunk beds weren't involved. Unless she used her kids' rooms.

And you know what? In the broadest sense, I don't care about any of this. If we're lucky, we get about 80 years to stumble around this planet as best we can, making fools of ourselves some years, making ourselves proud other years - aiming, over time, for a decent life. Sounds as if Palin's life has been as stumble-and-pride-filled as anyone's.

What I care about is that her rhetoric reflects an intolerance of those whose lives have been as interesting as hers has been. She's aligned herself with a rigid faction who denounce interesting lives like hers as "loose," "godless" and "un-American."

She's nothing of the sort.

But what she might be, deep down, is a Democrat.


Email polaner@phillynews.com or call 215-854-2217. For recent columns:

www.philly.com/Ronnie. Read Ronnie's blog at www.philly.com/RonnieBlog.

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