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November 06, 2008



I think we have to take this stuff with a grain of salt, since the sources are McCain aides who have every incentive to try to blame the loss on Palin rather than their boss - and thus to exaggerate or even lie about Palin, especially since they're doing it anonymously. Of course, in the end this doesn't make that much sense, because the responsibility for picking Palin ultimately lies with McCain, but still, since there is a lot of anger toward Palin from within the McCain camp, these stories may not be true.


I can't dismiss the possibility that the latest revelations may indeed be false, but given that Sarah Palin has such a substantial track record of making incredibly ignorant comments, I'd say the Bayesian priors weigh too heavily in favor of Palin being indeed this clueless: it's hardly a stretch for a person unable to name a single periodical she reads* to not know that Africa is a continent.

The bottom line for me is that given Sarah Palin's record, the claims made about her in this video are completely plausible, while the claims being made about the supposed malice of those who briefed the reporter are completely unsubstantiated, and motivated at best by misguided charity, or at worst by shameless casuistry on the part of those who'd like this ignoramus to remain a viable option for the role of future champion of the religious right. Not only do we not know that McCain's aides are briefing against Palin merely in order to shift blame, but even if we *did* know as much, it still wouldn't mean they were necessarily making things up - and that step of illogical deduction is what her many right-wing apologists are currently attempting with all their talk of "scapegoating", "knives", "smears", etc. McCain established his own terrible judgment by picking Sarah Palin to begin with, but the subsequent foolish utterances were all her own doing.

Finally, I think a useful way of judging the trustworthiness of these new revelations will be to keep track of what comes to light about Palin's clothes-buying spree. If it transpires that she did indeed spend a lot more than the $150,000 originally disclosed, and that $40,000 went to suiting up her husband, the likelihood that the rest of the accusations made about her are just "smears" will diminish to infinitesimal.

*I don't buy the excuse that Palin simply froze under pressure either. How hard can it be for any half-way informed person to recall the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Economist or even Newsweek?


My opinion on the newspaper incident is that she reads the New York Times just like anybody else, but she couldn't admit it after attacking the "mainstream media" for their unfair treatment of her. So basically she froze, not under the pressure or even necessarily out of ignorance, but under the internal contradictions of her populist, anti-latte-sipping/Volvo-driving/etc posturing. Notice that later on, the only publication that she named was the Economist, which is highbrow but sufficiently right-wing that she wouldn't lose her conservative cred.

What's really rich about the McCain aides is calling her a "Wasilla hillbilly" after a campaign based in large part on class resentment of the coastal elites.


While I commend your extending the benefit of the doubt so generously to Palin, I really don't buy the alternative explanation you propose. The WSJ is about as right wing as they come - its editorial pages insufferably so - and yet this "journalism major" couldn't mention the name of the world's most powerful and best known financial paper? You say she later mentioned the Economist, but I'm certain the only reason she could do so was because by then she'd been coached on what to say - nothing in her many inane recorded remarks on Russia, global warming, the proper response to the financial crisis, fruit fly research, poorly decided Supreme Court cases other than Roe v. Wade (not even Dredd Scott!), the relationship between the VP and the Senate, etc. bears any evidence of Sarah Palin being in the least acquainted with that fine publication called the Economist. In fact, I can't accept that anyone with such glaring knowledge deficits in so many fields can read *any* decent newspaper on a semi-occasional basis - I'm certain Sarah Palin gets her news almost entirely from watching TV, which would make her just like so many millions of American "Joe Six Pack" who do precisely the same thing.

Sometimes things really are what they seem, and I think in the case of this particular individual - who took 5 years and 6 colleges to get a "journalism" degree which left her unable to name any actual publications requiring journalists - it really *is* the case that she's both extremely ignorant and utterly lacking in even the minimal amount of curiosity which would render her general ignorance remediable. Her GOP boosters can drill her all they want over the next four years, but it is a dead certainty that all it will take to trip her up in 2012 will be to stray outside of the Cliff Notes she'll have spent the years memorizing - assuming she ever condescends to an encounter with a journalist willing and able to do more than pass her softballs, that is ...


Palin's certainly not helping herself with her response to the stories -

"If there are allegations based on questions or comments I made in debate prep about Nafta — about the continent versus the country when we talk about Africa there — then those were taken out of context. And that’s cruel, it’s mean-spirited, it’s immature, it’s unprofessional and those guys are jerks if they came away with it taking things out of context, then tried to spread something on national news,”

"the continent versus *the* country when we talk about Africa"??


"It will take me a while to find the free time to put down my thoughts on the significance of Barack Obama's successful campaign for the American presidency"

I PATIENTLY await that post. Patiently. Oh and did I mention how patient I was? Ok, just a friendly reminder here, no rush. :) Will be back again in 1-2 months, assuming I don't get blocked first.


P.S.: Might I humbly suggest that you save your policy disagreements for a later article and just leave the good stuff for this one? No? Ok, well I can't wait to read it either way. Cheers.

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