Saturday, August 14, 2010


Not a surgical procedure for weight loss, but "Grand Unified Theory of Palinisms." Jacob Weisberg, who you may remember as the archivist who collected eight-plus years of Bushisms, is still at it, but with a new collection. Following is an excerpt from his book Palinisms: The Accidental Wit and Wisdom of Sarah Palin, due out in a couple of days, and previewed at Slate:
But the best Palinisms of all result when the huntress encounters something she wasn't hunting for—that is, when Sarah Palin comes into contact with most anything to do with domestic, foreign, or economic policy. It is this situation that generates those priceless let me tap-dance and, also, sing for you a little song while you think of a different question moments. One such was the juncture in her mind-boggling 2008 interview when Katie Couric asked Palin to name a Supreme Court decision she disagreed with, other than Roe v. Wade. Surrounded by hostile forces, out of cartridges for her Remington, she bravely held her ground and kept pulling the trigger, to no effect:
Palin: Well, let's see. There's—of course in the great history of America there have been rulings that there's never going to be absolute consensus by every American, and there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So, you know, going through the history of America, there would be others. But, um.

Couric: Can you think of any?

Palin: Well, I would think of any again that could best be dealt with on a more local level maybe I would take issue with. But, um, you know as a mayor and then as a governor and even as a vice president, if I am so privileged to serve, I would be in a position of changing those things, but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today.
Weisberg's Bushisms were (and are-Shrub's limited public appearances mean fewer misunderstatementisms, but Weisberg has kept the site up to date) often side-splitting, and I much appreciate his work in putting together the definitive collection. Likewise, while the Palinisms project seems a little limited at this point, I expect it will be expanded after the book makes its initial run.

However, I think that simply listing all these strange quotes (and they are strange) for the LOLs misses the point. First, it gets old pretty quick. Second, it overlooks, even obscures, the strange phenomenon of Palin: here is a person who apparently cannot tack together an intelligible sentence in the English language without a prompt, and even then it's iffy. Yet people are paying her hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, for her writing and speeches. What does that say about the media, and what does it say about us? That is the book I'd like to read.

For me, the definitive compilation of Bushisms, and what it says about our culture, is Mark Crispin Miller's The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on A National Disorder. Oh sure, there's lots of yucks in the book, some tear-inducing. But it's placing them in context, and showing how and why Bush was a perfect match for modern TV, while Gore was a poor fit indeed, that makes it such a compelling read. For people who weren't paying attention pre-9/11, I still highly recommend it (here's a good review, and here's the Amazon Page), and though I haven't read any reviews of Weisberg's book yet, I hope he has tried to do a little of this needed contextualization of Palin's malapropisms. Yeah, such stuff is funny to a point, but it won't be if Caribou Barbie decides to run for POTUS and we let the media play us for suckers yet again.

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