Friday, September 12, 2008

The Sarah Palin Show: "Doublespeak"

A couple of things from tonight's interview on ABC evening news. Not sure I'm going to get to watch the longer interview on 20/20. My wife, who is part of the demographic that is supposed to go ga-ga over Sarah Palin - middle aged white evangelical (as am I) - has said that she's tired of seeing Palin's face on our TV. She finds her hard to stomach, particularly after watching her snarky performance at the Republican National Convention. Hard to see anything even dimly reflective of her professed Christian convictions there.

Here are a couple of observations (see next blog for the most astonishing statement of the night):

1. Governor Palin was far more relaxed tonight and didn't give the sense that she was repeating memorized policy statements. She was way out of her league last night. Tonight she was in familiar territory, speaking about issues she's had to deal with on the local and state level. I think we were actually hearing her own thoughts and words. First time since since the convention.

2. Any talk about Governor Palin being a "different kind of politician" needs to be set aside. This is a slippery politician who has learned how to deflect difficult questions with a kind of verbal sleight of hand. And she's a master at it, as the following exchange with Gibson on "the Bridge to Nowhere" shows:


Sarah Palin on 'Bridge to Nowhere':

GIBSON: You have said continually, since he chose you as his vice presidential nominee, that I said to Congress, thanks but no thanks. If we're going to build that bridge, we'll build it ourselves.

PALIN: Right.

GIBSON: But it's now pretty clearly documented. You supported that bridge before you opposed it. You were wearing a T-shirt in the 2006 campaign, showed your support for the bridge to nowhere.

PALIN: I was wearing a T-shirt with the Zip code of the community that was asking for that bridge. Not all the people in that community even were asking for a $400 million or $300 million bridge.

GIBSON: But you turned against it after Congress had basically pulled the plug on it; after it became apparent that the state was going to have to pay for it, not the Congress; and after it became a national embarrassment to the state of Alaska. So do you want to revise and extend your remarks.

PALIN: It has always been an embarrassment that abuse of the ear form -- earmark process has been accepted in Congress. And that's what John McCain has fought. And that's what I joined him in fighting. It's been an embarrassment, not just Alaska's projects. But McCain gives example after example after example. I mean, every state has their embarrassment.

GIBSON: But you were for it before you were against it. You were solidly for it for quite some period of time...

PALIN: I was ...

GIBSON: ... until Congress pulled the plug.

PALIN: I was for infrastructure being built in the state. And it's not inappropriate for a mayor or for a governor to request and to work with their Congress and their congressmen, their congresswomen, to plug into the federal budget along with every other state a share of the federal budget for infrastructure.

GIBSON: Right.

PALIN: What I supported was the link between a community and its airport. And we have found that link now.

GIBSON: But you didn't say no to Congress, well build it ourselves until after they pulled the plug. Correct?

PALIN: No, because Congress still allowed those dollars to come into Alaska. They did.

GIBSON: Well, but ...


Gibson finally gave up and went on to other matters which she also skillfully deflected with teflon-like ease. Which means that an aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh is most appropriate here.

Clearly any thought McCain had that he was getting a "straight-talking" partner is pretty much blown out of the water by these interviews. There's a reason Palin got as far as she did in Alaska politics. She's learned how to play the same kind of political games they all play.

"Doublespeak (sometimes double talk) is language constructed to disguise or distort its actual meaning, often resulting in a communication bypass. Doublespeak may take the form of bald euphemisms (e.g., "downsizing" for layoffs) or deliberate ambiguity."

from Wikipedia

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