Sarah Palin's Battles With McCain Campaign—a Culture War?

In 'Going Rogue,' Sarah Palin takes aim at a McCain strategist who clashed with her on hot-button issues.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

According to the Associated Press's early look at Sarah Palin's forthcoming Going Rogue, the "closest Palin comes to naming names occurs in the passages about chief McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt."

The Palin/Schmidt rift clearly embodies the cultural clash between John McCain and his veep pick. Schmidt wanted Palin to brush up on policy and to defer to McCain's people on media strategy. Palin wanted to go rogue: to open up to reporters and show voters her true Wasilla colors.

But the Palin/Schmidt tensions also appear to embody the broader culture wars.

Schmidt, you may remember, told the Log Cabin Republicans—the largest GOP gay group—earlier this year that he supports gay marriage, while he warned his party against getting too much religion. "If you put public policy issues to a religious test, you risk becoming a religious party," he said. "And in a free country, a political party cannot be viable in the long term if it is seen as a sectarian party."

The day before Schmidt gave that speech in April, Palin delivered an address of her own, to a Right to Life dinner in Indiana, that positively brimmed with religious references. She spoke of a "providential series of events," described her son Trig as "made in the image of God," and compared the Declaration of Independence to a "holy text." It was exactly the kind of faith-based posturing that Schmidt was about to inveigh against.

Were such differences merely tangential to Palin's uneasy coexistence with Schmidt and the rest of the McCain crew? I suspect not. But I'm eager to read the book and find out.

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