Saturday, June 11, 2011

Palin’s babbling

What you heard in Palin’s recent statement about Paul Revere is of such poor quality that – even without her political positions – it is anathema to the educated, whether they lean left or right.

She sounded like an airhead her usual Modus operandi.

Asked about what she had seen in Boston, as usual, she blathered on mindlessly: "He who warned, uh, the British that they weren't gonna be takin' away our arms, uh, by ringing those bells, and um, makin' sure as he's riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed."

Over and over, we have seen Palin’s statements dissolve into something we could call fact-mishmash as she tries to say something important off the cuff, but what comes out of her mouth is the sort of nonsense you would expect to find coming from the mouth of a stroke victim who, unable to understand the nature of his injury, or even that he is injured, babbles incoherently not realizing that the brilliant discourse he has prepared in his mind sounds like babble to the world around him.

Palin's comments were the epitome of bumbling semi-literacy. In too many of Palin’s utterances, the facts are sort of there – and she intends to use them – but her ability to order them into something other than babble is absent.

It is safe to say that every American over the age of twelve has some version of our historical stories in his or her head. Palin had just visited a history center that should have reinforced what she already knew about Paul Revere’s famous ride. Yet, instead of coming up with a simple, sequential capsule version of the Revere story or even saying ‘Wow! That trip to the center was beautiful,’ out of her mouth tumbled something akin to psychobabble. It was a bucketful of fact-mishmash, delivered to a reporter who asked a simple, off-the-cuff, softball question. In a later interview on Fox, she said the ‘lamestream’ reporter had asked her a ‘gotcha’ question.

Yea, right. It's only a gotcha question if your head is half empty.

But the important issue here is not what she said, irrespective of its importance or how much time she had to prepare, nor is it her stubborn defense of her “position” in subsequent interviews; it is the image of her in a position of power as president of the United States and reacting to events that require quick, decisive thinking and action. I envision her responding to the office’s demands on her powers as president by releasing clouds of psychobabble. What makes intelligent, educated people shudder is the thought of a President Palin filled with the milk of conservative values whose every thought gushes forth in a language indistinguishable from that of a stoner who is ripped out of his mind.

Even scarier are Palin's supporters who went into Wikipedia to make the history of the midnight ride of Paul Revere match the words of their heroine. That set off a bit of a war at Wiki between the editors who are not insane and the Palinites who are.

It appears that the biggest problem in this country is willful ignorance, particularly on the right, and particularly among Palinites. All over the internet you can see debates between right and left – but on the right, if a politician's statements do not fit reality, well, then reality must be wrong. So they attempt to change history books and Wikipedia to fit their own ‘facts’.

Here is a suggestion of what she should have said (paying homage to her view on gun rights):

“Being in the city where Paul Revere’s famous ride to warn his fellow Patriots that British troops would soon be on the move in an attempt to capture stores of weapons that would prove crucial for the nascent rebellion, was a moving experience. I’m not sure of one thing: did he put a lamp or lantern in the church belfry or did he ring the bells in the church? I cannot remember. It’s been a long time since grade school. Whatever the details, thank God he warned the patriots who, in turn, foiled the British plan to seize their weapon stores, demonstrating once and for all the value of our traditional right to bear arms. Thank God for his courage.”

But a statement like this would be too intelligent for her – there is not enough babbling.