Monday, June 13, 2011

Exclusive: Sarah Palin Admits Mistake

Since I'm pretty much the last person to weigh in on this, I won't dwell on the details, but about a week ago Sarah Palin brought her I-Don't-Need-to-Declare-My-Candidacy-to-Get-Attention Tour to Boston.[1] Asked a question about nothing in particular, she decided to talk about Paul Revere—and proceeded to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she had in no way prepared to do so. It would've been quickly forgotten, except that a few days later she appeared on Fox News and insisted that (a) she totally knew what she was talking about all along, and (b) the real villain was that pesky reporter with his "shout-out, gotcha type of question". To her detractors—myself included—this is further support for the perception that she is utterly incapable of taking responsibility for her mistakes and shortcomings.

Remember Palin's baffling response to Katie Couric's question about what newspapers she reads? "All of them, any of them that have been in front of me," she said awkwardly, as if the real answer was either "none" or something somehow even more embarrassing. She was also asked what Supreme Court decisions, other than Roe v. Wade, she disagreed with, to which she responded with more of her trademark rambling without ever actually naming one. A few days later she appeared on Fox News and insisted that (a) she totally knew what she was talking about all along, and…you get the idea:
My response to her, I guess it was kind of flippant. But, I was sort of taken aback, like, the suggestion was, "You're way up there in a faraway place in Alaska, do you know that there are publications in the rest of the world that are read by many?" And I was taken aback by that because, I don't know, the suggestion just was a little bit of perhaps we're not in tune with the rest of the world.

I shouldn't have been so flippant and just sort of brushed aside that because that was an important question, and I should have answered it, and yes, I can cite a lot of cases that I absolutely disagree with the Supreme Court on.
Moments like these, among many, many others,[2] make me wonder if, in her mind, she's even capable of screwing up. I mean, there's no denying she's garnered a ton of support by positioning herself as the victim of forces that, due to an ill-defined combination of dim-wittedness and anti-conservative bias, are intent on suppressing her views. For that narrative to make sense—which isn't to say it does, though a distressing number of people seem to be on board—the views in question have to be, you know, well-articulated and based in reality, because otherwise it's not so unreasonable to suppress them. And in the absence of actually having views that are well-articulated and based in reality, the least she can do is never concede that they aren't. Is there a chance, then, that Palin's pretense of infallibility is not fundamental to her personality, but is merely a (maddeningly effective) political strategy?

The recent release of thousands of emails generated during her time as governor of Alaska provides an interesting opportunity to look for an answer.[3] I didn't go through all of them, of course, but I searched for key words ("wrong", "incorrect", "sorry", etc.) to narrow it down. And yet, everything I read—just like everything I've seen reported elsewhere—pointed to the conclusion that Palin's obstinance is not an act. That she's no more likely to admit a mistake in a private conversation with her closest advisors than she is in front of an audience of millions.

But then I found it:
From: Palin, Sarah
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2008 10:14 AM
To: Irwin; Tom E (DNR); Lopez; Thomas M (GOV)
Subject: Fw: King air

Sent this to the wrong "Tom"", sorry.
On February 13, 2008, Sarah Palin sent an email to someone named Tom Irwin, but she meant to send it to Tom Lopez. Not only did she take responsibility for this mistake, but she did not blame either her political enemies or the "lamestream media", nor did she come up with a convoluted "I meant to do that" explanation. So it is possible. You heard it here first.

1. According to a recent Gallup poll, 95% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are familiar with Sarah Palin—no other potential 2012 Republican candidate has a number higher than 85%, and most are below 60%—while the remaining 5% answered sarcastically and the poll worker failed to pick up on it.
2. This Media Matters article, for example, discusses multiple "falsehoods" in Palin's autobiography, many of which involve her attempts to address and clarify some of the dubious things she said or did during the campaign. (I've made it clear in the past that I don't trust Media Matters to be objective—in part because I'm not sure they even try to be objective—and I didn't take the time to double-check their work, but they probably got at least some of it right.)
    There was also the "refudiate" thing, in which Palin accidentally invented a word by combining two existing words with similar meanings. She defended this by comparing herself to Shakespeare, the celebrated playwright who on many occasions intentionally invented new words (or borrowed words from other languages) when he found the English lexicon inadequate. Of course, I'm pretty sure Palin sold more books last year, so maybe she's got a point.
3. There's something really unsavory, by the way, about the obvious glee with which these emails have been presented to the public, as if it's just assumed that there'll be some kind of career-ending revelation in there.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the "refudiate" matter, I continue to try to introduce "portmanteapartier" into the lexicon. Alas, I don't have as many twitter followers as Ms. Palin.