Friday, October 3, 2008

Can I Call You Joe?


We can forgive Sarah Palin for not grasping the distinction between "can" and "may." Ms. Palin isn't the type of gal who asks permission, whether such license be asking her Vice Presidential opponent for the right to call him by his first name or whether it be requesting something far more insidious: expanded Constitutional power, something that even de debbil Cheney didn't get his fork into.

In an appearance that is being called "folksy," Ms. Palin's grammatical error set her substantive tone. Dropping the "g's" of participial endings, calling upon the very same "Joe Six-Pack" voter that her running mate dismissed as unimportant, winking, and saying "You betcha!" all added up to the performance of a five-week lifetime for the Alaskan governor.

Acknowledging her brief tenure on the international stage was one of the cleverest things Ms. Palin could have done and should be considered a textbook example of "aw, shucks" apologia. When in doubt, opt out. How many of us have found ourselves in precisely the same situation in a classroom or on a job interview or when asked for our most erudite thoughts on trigger issues like gay marriage or Pakistan?

From a psychological standpoint, Ms. Palin's unsophisticated vernacular was a psych-out designed to cover a multitude of intellectual sins. We cringe when asked to speak in public, and unless we are polished speakers--no Obamas, we--we appeal to the masses who, while waiting for us to take a pie in the face, also relate to us as we squirm, flail, and quite possibly publicly humiliate ourselves.

While not needing a facecloth following her appearance, Ms. Palin makes one wonder just how gullible we are when confronted by what for all intents and purposes were non-answers to easily answerable questions: Yes, no, make mine pepperoni. Ms. Palin succeeded in not further embarrassing herself, and on that score her appearance was a success. Everyone is saying that, and it has to do with our low expectations and also our taste for blood. If you came hunting for big game, you weren't going to bag it in St. Louis.

The big question coming out of the debate is why we should have such diminished expectations in the first place. Why are some of us ready, willing, and able (the "can" distinction, above) to vote into office a woman who winked and whose idiomatic speech would be untranslatable into Arabic? And would we, as an employer, hire someone who refused to answer questions related to our fitness for on-the-job performance?

Some, it is safe to say, would. And most of us have been asked tough questions and have been forced to answer them in a way that would make us appear to be not merely hirable but also better suited to the job than our competitor. What do you suppose would happen if, when asked to name our greatest weakness, we mistook the meaning of "Achilles' heel" not for a fatal flaw but for something positive, darn tootin', and served up some more apple-pie attributes?

Ms. Palin's crowning attribute is redundancy, and for single-handedly spurring on an international effort to strike the word "maverick" from the OED.

Talk about a linguistic bridge to nowhere. If Palin revealed anything, it is that she knows how to stick to a game plan, if not to the finer points of gamesmanship. She doubled back, answered questions other than those that were asked, and at the end once again hoisted her baby to her shoulder not as symbol of her own surrender but of ours. We get it: Shoot at caribou, don't take potshots at mommies.

Let this be a lesson to all of us. Always fall back on those one or two things you know well and can competently regurgitate like so much baby vomit. Wink, don't blink. Become a master of non-sequitur and dazzle 'em with downhome philosophy, become the hostess of the "Huh?" party and hope that America is so presently dulled that it won't notice. We're not really all that interested in politics anyway, something the McCain campaign has brilliantly exploited. If we were, we wouldn't have a Sarah Palin on the national platform. We'd rather snarf our Big Mac devoid of any discussion of the lack of health benefits. Politics and Palin shouldn't appear on the same menu.

And that's the rootin', tootin' truth, God bless us all.

3 comments:

enc said...

I wish I'd seen the debate, because I'd like to chime in here, but I missed the whole thing.

From what I gather, many have impressions similar to what you present here.

lady coveted said...

excellent post... i guess what angers me most about her, is her appeal to those who are just as stupid as she is.

like the comment about obamama plan equating it to 'waving the white flag, that's not what our boys want to hear' not even thinking that maybe now is not the time to be tanking all our money in iraq. maybe waving the white flag is EXACTLY what our boys (and girls) what to hear.

there was this blog post about 'her not being so bad' there were all these idiot commenting things like 'yeah, she's going to kick her heels so far up putin's ass...' like 1. we were still in a cold war against russia, which hasn't been the case since it was the ussr, almost 20 years ago... and 2. putin's not even the president of russia anymore.

that's the level of intelligence of the people who don't think she's that bad. they are out of touch, arrogant, and so reactionary, it's ridiculous.

the thing i fear the most, and only because i've seen this happen before, is that the american people are going to fall for this, they are going to say that it's not that bad, even in the face of economic collapse...

yeah, it's not that bad. like frogs boiling to death by not jumping out is the best we can do.

Suzanna Mars said...

Thanks, gals, for your comments!