Did Sarah Palin make that up?


Claimed bootlegging Canadian grandfathers in Hamilton speech

The Hamilton Spectator


Sarah Palin may have told a big fat one while she was here.

Or maybe it was just the rambling, convoluted manner in which she delivered her 65-minute speech at Carmen's that has anti-Palin web users across the U.S. trying to figure out if she lied, misspoke or gave Hamilton exclusive new insight to her family tree.

The controversy, which has gained momentum since the former vice-presidential candidate was in town April 15 for a fundraising dinner, revolves around half a sentence I wrote in my column that night. I was describing how Palin's speech was largely about her family: "From her bootlegger grandfathers in Saskatchewan and Alberta, to the five children we know so much about."

Her granddads? Canadian bootleggers?

I started getting e-mails when my column hit The Spec's website.

"She is such a liar, did she actually say her grandfathers were bootleggers from Canada?" read one.

Yes, she did. She said it within the first 10 minutes of her speech. After she said, "Hello. Bonjour," and that Hamilton would be "a great place for an NHL franchise."

Some say Sarah Palin stretched the truth here.

She said her grandfathers were born in Alberta and Saskatchewan and were bootleggers — "but that was a long time ago."

That skeptical e-mail included a link to The Daily Dish on The Atlantic magazine's website, where there was an excerpt from my column and a thread of discussion.

"This is news, it seems to me," says one post. "In her novel, Going Rogue, she mentions her father's 'hometown of North Hollywood, California. He was born in 1938 to the celebrity photographer Charlie Heath, who specialized in shooting famous prizefighters.' Was Charlie Heath also a part-time Canadian bootlegger from Saskatchewan? And she writes that her mother 'was born into a large, educated Irish Catholic family in Utah. Her father, Clement James Sheeran –everyone called him 'Clem' or 'CJ' — was a mediator for General Electric and was wild about Notre Dame.' Was CJ also illegally smuggling liquor in Alberta — via his work for GE? Or did she have two other grandfathers who were in the Canadian bootlegging business? Could she provide their names? Is she referring perhaps to Todd's grandfathers? Or are we in Palin's alternate reality here? Maybe a reporter could ask her?"

I would have loved to ask her. But, as the media covering Palin's visit reported at the time, we were kept at a distance, not allowed any questions and were strictly forbidden from recording her speech.

The bootlegger mystery deepened for me when I received an e-mail from well-known American author Joe McGinniss.

McGinniss is a former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist who, at 26, wrote The Selling Of The President about Richard Nixon. The book became a New York Times bestseller, making him the youngest writer to make the list. He is now working on a book to be called Sarah Palin's Year Of Living Dangerously.

"Neither of Palin's grandfathers was a bootlegger, nor did either come from Saskatchewan, Alberta or Manitoba," McGinniss told me.

"She must have felt that because her appearance in Hamilton did not receive extensive U.S. media coverage she could say anything. And so, in an attempt to bond with her audience — in order to assure that she received their adulation as well as her $100,000 speaking fee — she told them things she thought they'd like to hear, no matter whether true or false."

McGinniss continues: "I've been observing this tendency over the past several months, and it seems to have metastasized to the point where it might be called pathological sycophancy (i.e. a need to bask in the adulation of others that is so strong that it overrides honesty, decency and self-respect, causing the sufferer not only to defame others with exaggerated falsehoods, but to invent from whole cloth engaging anecdotes about one's own personal and family history…)"'

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Syrin from Wasilla
    Apr 29, 2010 @ 10:14:00

    Check out the rest of the article click Read More


  2. sjohnson
    Apr 30, 2010 @ 13:43:00

    Certainly sums up Palin.


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