Monday, June 6, 2011

Paul Revere Warned Patti LaBelle About Riding With the British

Who doesn't remember learning about Paul Revere's wild ride during the early days of the American Revolution? Clearly Sarah Palin doesn't. Now, the fact of the matter is I don't think Palin is particularly bright, but her gaffes and weird lies can often be explained rationally. Her story about taking a 22 hour cross-country plane ride after her water broke for the birth of her youngest son is most reasonably explained as her water not actually breaking until she was back in Alaska, and she embellished her story to add drama to it. Her gaffe about Paul Revere using warning shots and bells and warning the British that we were going to kick their asses is best explained as her misspeaking while talking to reporters (something that happens even to intelligent people when constantly interviewed). That sort of thing isn't all that unreasonable.

What is unreasonable, though, is Palin's insane compulsion to double down. A smart politician can use jujitsu when caught in a snag--a great example is Nixon's "Checkers" speech, when he was accused of accepting improper gifts, and he went on TV to explain that there were no improper gifts, only a little dog named Checkers that was given by a campaign supporter for his daughters. The sappy anectdote about the dog ("Say what you will about me, but don't attack this poor dog!") was enough to turn Nixon's numbers around, and he was kept on the ticket as VP that year. Clinton was also good about parrying political jabs, turning Ken Starr's perjury investigation into "a partisan witch hunt about sex", which left the GOP unpopular and helped the President's party in '98. And an honest politician (not that I'd call Nixon or Clinton dishonest, perish the thought!) can do normal damage control, owning up to mistakes, explaining that they misspoke, or otherwise weathering the storm. Particularly if the snag in question is not a big deal, you can minimize it and let it die a natural death in our fast paced age of news cycles.

But Palin somehow cannot do this. When after the Tucson shootings last year she was accused of contributing to the "violent political rhetoric" that was (incorrectly) blamed for the shooting, Palin had an opportunity to be the bigger person, to say that she agrees that whether violent imagery in politics had anything to do with the shooting spree, it would be a good idea for everyone to take the opportunity to embrace civility across partisan ranks. Instead, she painted herself as a victim of false accusations, and her adviser insanely went on TV arguing that Palin's use of sniper targets over the faces of "targeted" politicians was actually surveyor's symbols, even though this makes no sense at all. Palin, who is clearly insecure about being a moron, cannot ever admit being wrong, out of a fear that such an admission would make her look stupider. Yet we see the results of doubling down on ridiculousness. Likewise, she's now insisting she was right about her account of Revere's ride, even though the story would be written off as an innocent gaffe if she just said "I misspoke, can we get back to the issues?"

I really don't know what to make of this woman sometimes. There are times I'm convinced that she's actually a plant by the Democrats, or perhaps a liberal performance artist, out solely to make conservatives and Republicans look ridiculous and undermine them from within. Other times it seems she's just a fame-seeker out for money and adulation, with no real interest in political responsibility. In such case, it benefits her to appear to be running for President, perhaps even entering primaries, but not actually serving as President because who needs a boring job all day when you can just go on TV, make speeches, and get rewarded handsomely without having to make any hard decisions?

In the meantime, I look forward to a long campaign season filled with entertainment from this woman.

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