Time to pop the corn, folks. Joe McGinniss, author of the epic political best-seller The Selling of the President about Richard Nixon, Going to Extremes about the Alaskan pipeline days, and others has his sights set on Sarah Palin. She will be the subject of his next book, and now she's also his neighbor.
McGinniss is also the journalist who wrote the comprehensive article entitled Pipe Dreams for Conde Nast's Portfolio in which he interviewed many in Palin's administration, a former governor, and experts in the field. This article introduced many in the Lower 48 to the fantasy gas pipeline Palin claimed was in the works during her famous speech at the Republican National Convention when she claimed, "I fought to bring about the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history. And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly 40 billion-dollar natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence."
We're still waiting.
It was also the first introduction to most of America to the phenomenon of Palin's habit of "magical thinking."
McGinniss was also thwarted in his attempt to win an eBay auction for dinner with Sarah Palin, the proceeds of which went to charity. Hoping to win the auction, he had the high bid at one point close to the end. The amount was a whopping $60,101.01, and he was willing to go higher. And then something interesting happened. The Alaska Dispatch came out with a story identifying McGinniss as one of the bidders. When the unsuspecting McGinniss went to place his next bid in the amount of $60,301.01, he was met with a message saying he needed "pre-approval."
Despite his previous pre-approval, his dreams of winning the auction were dashed. McGinniss was unapproved, with only an hour to go. The winner was a Republican defense contractor who had already met Palin and was a big fan.
Perhaps to encourage the muse, or perhaps out of a sense of "why not," Mr. McGinniss has landed himself on the shores of Lake Lucille in Wasilla, right next door to the Palins. He's renting the house for the summer. While there is no indication that McGinniss had any plans to publish photos or information about the personal lives of the Palin children or anyone else, Sarah Palin has responded to the discovery of her famous neighbor in classic Palin style.
When I said "classic Palin style," if you immediately thought "wild, inappropriate over-reaction" you can give yourself a gold star. And if you guessed Facebook rant, give yourself another one. This one was just too big for the Twitter limit of 140 characters. With twitchy forced nonchalance, she offers to bake him a pie, offers to lend him sugar and says she'll keep her youngest son Trig quiet so McGinniss can enjoy his summer of peace and quiet while she constructs a giant fence. Construction has already begun to augment the existing large fence.
One wonders if she'll be constructing some kind of floating barrier to prevent the scores of curious boaters who float past the Palin's house every day taking pictures from catching a glimpse of the ex-governor gardening in shorts.
She also speculates (somewhere between the pie and the sugar) that he'll be spying in Piper's bedroom window, and watching her do the gardening while wearing skimpy summer clothing. It's quite something. Reading it is kind of like watching someone spontaneously combust.
Wonder what kind of material he'll gather while overlooking Piper's bedroom, my little garden, and the family's swimming hole?
And in a brilliant move, to attempt to show how intrusive he's going to be, and how much he will invade her privacy, she has actually published a picture of him sitting on the far side of the deck, minding his own business. You know... to show how inappropriate he is for whatever it is he might or might not do at some time in the future. Maybe. You know, like taking a creepy spy picture of her that she doesn't know about and then publishing it online to a hostile audience of a million Facebook users, and asking for comment.
Of all the words I can think of to describe how Palin has chosen to react to the news of her new neighbor, "presidential" isn't one of them. Is the the calm hand at the tiller? The unflappable commander in chief? The one you want with the nuclear launch codes? Just sayin'.
And Joe... don't eat the pie.
Random House, McGinniss' publisher has issued the following response:
One of the country's most respected nonfiction authors, Joe McGinniss, is presently reporting and writing his next book, tentatively titled Sarah Palin's Year of Living Dangerously, scheduled for publication in fall 2011 by Broadway Books. Mr. McGinniss is the author of Going to Extremes, a classic book about Alaska, and his work-in-progress returns him to the 49th state to examine Sarah Palin's significance as both a political and cultural phenomenon and as an embodiment of the contradictory forces that shaped Alaska as it moved into its second half-century of statehood. Well regarded for his in-depth, up-close reporting, Mr. McGinniss will be highly respectful of his subject's privacy as he investigates her public activities.