27 November, 2010

The Rules: Nailin’ Palin

(get your minds out of the gutter!)

My opinion of Sarah Palin is well documented so you will know I am not defending her antics in general when I say this: everyone is allowed a slip of the tongue, okay?
I am happy to give Sarah Palin the benefit of the doubt that talking about “our North Korean allies,” was nothing more than a slip of the tongue. This does not mean she is not an idiot. Indeed, there is so much evidence that she’s a nong that presenting more just seems like piling on.

Naturally, her defenders have come out to blame it all on a biased media yet again. How lame-stream! Andrew Bolt was oh so clever in reminding us of Barack Obama’s slip-ups in referring to, “fifty seven states” and “my Muslim faith.” Then he linked to a post of Palin’s which listed even more – and if you believe she wrote that herself, then I’ll sell you a bridge to nowhere.

Like Bushisms, Palinisms take on a mythology of their own and her defenders are all too keen to misrepresent legitimate criticism to try and discredit the critics. They are quick to remind us that Palin never said, “I can see Russia from my house.” We know that. We’re not stupid. However, Palin did cite Alaska’s close proximity to Russia as evidence of her foreign policy credentials.

“It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.”

I have two problems with this statement. Firstly, I would imagine if you were travelling from Siberia to Saskatchewan, you might pass over Alaska – but if you’re travelling from Moscow to Washington DC, it would be much quicker and easier to fly across Europe and then turn left at Greenland, as they say in the classics. So here we have a very real and legitimate question as to her grasp of geography.

Secondly, if we assume that Putin did choose to take the scenic route when it comes time to do a bit of head-rearing, how does that qualify Sarah Palin to speak on foreign policy? If simply living under a flight-path gives you special insight, then the people who live around Heathrow airport in London must all be veritable Ban Ki-moons.

That inane statement came from the same profile with Katie Couric where, in answer to a question about what newspapers and magazines she reads, she answered, “All of ’em.” Let’s be clear, this was not a “gotcha!” question. Charlie Gibson asking her if she agrees with the Bush doctrine was a gotcha question. Katie Couric asking what newspapers you read? The only possible way you can flub that is if you’re trying to cover up for something. And how dim do you have to be if Katie Couric can make a fool out of you without even trying?

Later, Palin revealed that she doesn’t learn from her mistakes. In an interview with Glenn Beck – surely one of the most sympathetic interviewers she could possibly face – upon being asked who her favourite founding father was, she again answered, “All of them.” Okay, it was a stupid question whichever way you look at it, and she recovered to eventually say (rather predictably) George Washington, but only after Glenn Beck (yes, Glenn Beck, of all people!) called “bullcrap” to her face.

That wasn’t the first time Palin had messed up on her history regarding the founding fathers either. In answer to a question that came from a generic candidate questionnaire, “Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?” her answer was,
“If it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me and I'll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.”
That answer could only make sense if the founders were still around in 1892 when the pledge was written, and if they also there 62 years later when the words, “under God,” were added. Now I’ll admit that I didn’t know the full history of the pledge of allegiance until people fact-checked Palin on it, but I was aware that, “under God,” was added later and if a shitkicker from Australia knew that, then I think it’s fair to expect Patriot Barbie to know it as well.

I submit these just off the top of my head, as examples that cannot be dismissed as simple slips of the tongue. It’s Palin’s history of misunderstanding history, and geography, that leads people to think that a slip of the tongue may be more than just that. Sure, Obama has made his gaffes and they deserve to be mocked, but regardless of what you may think of him, he also has shown evidence of knowing what he’s talking about which is why people tend to let the slips slide. Palin’s tendency to simply assemble clichés make the gaffes the only interesting part of what she says.

Another thing that cannot be dismissed as a slip of the tongue is “refudiate.” She didn’t mis-speak because she wasn’t speaking at all, she was typing on twitter. Obviously she couldn’t decide whether she was going to say ‘refute,’ or ‘repudiate,’ and mixed the two.

Once again, let’s be fair to Sarah. In the preface to The Hunting of the Snark, Lewis Carroll writes,

‘For instance, take the two words “fuming” and “furious.” Make up your mind that you will say both words, but leave it unsettled which you will say first. Now open your mouth and speak. If your thoughts incline ever so little towards “fuming,” you will say “fuming-furious;” if they turn, by even a hair's breadth, towards "furious," you will say “furious-fuming;” but if you have the rarest of gifts, a perfectly balanced mind, you will say “frumious”.’

So, does this mean that by Lewis Carroll’s standards, Sarah Palin has a perfectly balanced mind? I think not, because Carroll was referring to speech and, as mentioned, Palin was typing. Now, I like using big words. I am a wordy person, despite the floccinaucinihilipilification that has been directed at me because of it. Even so, when I’m not sure about a word or its use, I look it up. Sarah, so sure of herself, just barged on in. That’s one thing, but not correcting it when the mistake was pointed out, is another. That’s another difference between Palin and Obama. Obama did not rationalise his gaffes by comparing himself to Shakespeare.

So, righties, I’m really happy for you that you’ve found a few Obama slip-ups to compare to Palin slip-ups. Pat yourselves on the back. You could perhaps compare Palin’s policies to Obama’s if she had any. Why even compare Palin and Obama at all? Like him or not, Obama is the president and Palin is.... what, exactly? A half-term governor turned television personality? And we’re supposed to compare the two as equals?

It’s worth pointing out here that Obama has been president for almost as long as Palin was governor. Palin took a lot of criticism – some of it valid, some of it not – and responded by quitting and blaming it all on the mean old media. As for Obama, whether you love him or hate him (or even if you have found some middle ground between the extremes), any reasonable person would admit that some of the (ahem) criticism of Obama goes WAY beyond what anyone would consider civil discourse or reasonable objection – all of it egged on by a mainstream media empire. But you know what? That’s politics in America. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the stovey, cooky roomy thing. That’s what Palin chose to do. If Obama were Palin, he would have taken one look at the teabaggers and fucked off back to Chicago, or Hawaii, or Indonesia, or Kenya, or Mars, or where-ever it is he’s supposed to be from this week.


  1. You're too kind mate lol.

  2. American politics have got so divisive that if somebody sneezes it's a call to arms.