Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review: A Little Bit Vulnerable

Janine Turner's book, A Little Bit Vulnerable - On Hollywood, God, Sobriety, & Politics, is a surprising mix of intimate personal memoir and insightful political commentary. Far from being a typical Hollywood autobiography filled with scandal and gossip, this book delves deeply into both Janine Turner's psyche, and into the political foundations of America. Moreover, it does so in a way that is both fascinating and educational. Traditional Americans, conservatives, libertarians, and tea party types will all appreciate much of what this book offers.

Janine Turner is perhaps best known for her role as Maggie O'Connell on Northern Exposure. More recently, she has become known as a champion of the US Constitution and America's founding principles through her organization Constituting America, which utilizes the culture and multi-media outreach in promoting education and respect for the Constitution. She is also a columnist, radio show host (hopefully she will be back on the air soon - I really enjoy/appreciate her style of radio punditry) and frequent guest on shows such as The O'Reilly Factor.

The book starts out with Turner taking us on a tour through her life by sharing a selection of poetry that she wrote through the years, along with what was happening in her life at the time (career successes, a broken engagement, her struggles with alcoholism and sobriety, among others). I admit that, at first, I thought that section would be boring and I would quickly skim through it to get to the good stuff. I was wrong. I read every line of poetry she included. It is a very honest, surprisingly intimate and revealing, window onto her soul, which took a lot of courage on her part to share so publicly, in my opinion.

Next up, Turner gets really into her Constitutionalist mode, and also discusses the founding of Constituting America. She includes some of her political commentary, as well as many of her essays on individual Federalist Papers (1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 32, 37, 43, 45, 60, 68, 69, 70, 73, & 85). It is at this point that my copy of her book became marked up with many notes as I read, and learned, through those essays. Her commentary on the Federalist Papers is extremely insightful, well-researched, and well-thought out. Chapter two by itself is worth the cost of the book, and more.

Chapter three continues with the more-scholarly portion of her book, as she starts out discussing "Satellites, Northern Exposure, and America's Future" using that as a springboard to an in-depth discussion of Washington's Farewell Address through the prism of today. Really, this transition - and other transitions throughout the book- actually works well, despite the seeming disparity between subject matter.

In chapter four, Turner gets into modern politics, discussing the Manipulation and Mission of Women in Politics. It is in this section that Turner - a single mother who choose life - gives some excellent and much-needed advice to Pro-Lifers. My short - and wholly inadequate - summary of her comments is that we cannot be concerned solely with the unborn child, but need to share that same love and concern for the mother, both during pregnancy and after she gives birth. We should not, must not, treat single mothers as villains, especially while ignoring the role the fathers in those situations. A sentiment I whole-heartedly agree with, by the way. I hope that every pro-life politician, candidate, pundit, and activist will read that column.

(At this point, I hoped to include a link to that column, Can Conservatives be Pro-Life in the Womb, but Not in the World?, on her website, but unfortunately that page gives an error message at the moment. I will include the link later, if and when it gets restored.)

Contending With and Countering the Culture is the next section of the book, in which Turner discusses the role of today's culture, which she liken's to a form of modern pagan-worship, and the mass media. She includes many of her columns on everything from how liberals profit from the Capitalist system they oppose, to why we should reject the race card. I find these columns to be insightful, often taking a surprising tack on various issues. Definitely different then you get from many conservative pundits, and that is a good thing.

Turner closes out the book discussing her Seeking and Keeping Sobriety (including an interview of Bob Beckel on the topic), and dealing with the death of her father (a veteran and West Point graduate). The book also includes transcripts of radio interviews Turner did of Senator Ted Cruz, and Senator Rand Paul.

Janine Turner's book is an atypical mix of personal narrative and political & historical commentary. But it works together very well, and makes for an interesting, and educational, read. It's not a quick read, as she packs a lot of information into its pages, but it will hold your attention.

You can follow Janine Turner on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JanineTurner

You might also be interested in my reviews of Juliette Turner's (Janine's daughter) two books: Our Constitution ROCKS! and Our Presidents ROCK!