(or woman) who does not possess the same conventional pop culture familiarity with Longfellow’s poem and Paul Revere’s 18th of April in ’75 ride to warn the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord that the British were coming.
Sarah Palin, unfortunately, in her characteristically more extreme version of the politician trying to bloviate for the media who engages mouth without fully engaging brain, made a syntactical hash of Paul Revere’s ride and laid herself open to accusations by the left that she was astonishingly ill-informed on supposed fine points of America history with which every member of the elite community of fashion is naturally intimately familiar.
A bit painful to watch, but short.
All the glee on the left provoked the learned Professor Jacobson to quote Revere’s actual account, which by one of life’s strange coincidences happened to fit Sarah Palin’s garbled narrative very nicely. It was all just more persiflage, of course. Palin really did misspeak, but the good Professor’s factual rejoinder quite effectively disarmed the smug lefties and drove them into full retreat, muttering unhappily to themselves. Bill Jacobson decisively closed down discussion on this particular incident.
The reality is that Sarah Palin obviously knows approximately as much (or as little) as any typical contemporary American adult about Paul Revere’s ride and the battles of Lexington and Concord. What happened is that Palin tried to combine more than one conceptual thread while distracted, and tied her verbiage into knots. When she is not paying attention, Sarah Palin does not express herself coherently and does not necessarily say what she means to say. Instead, she produces some kind of untidy substitute for what she needed and intended to say, and the result is too commonly a very unsatisfactory and naive sounding failure featuring some form of gaping vulnerability.
Palin is not as glib as many politicians, and she is not as careful as most politicians, so she has a well-recognized tendency to expose herself to this kind of unfavorable interpretation and ridicule from the left.
All politicians are fallible and human, and all politicians are capable of misspeaking when not paying attention, tired, or distracted.
Silver-tongued Barack Obama is not immune to the same problem, but you don’t see Brian Williams ridiculing him for campaigning in all 57 states or referring to Navy corpse-men or (just this week) to the “USS Naval Academy.”
Palin is not unusually ill-informed or even uniquely capable of gaffes. She is just not as cautious and characteristically self-protective as most politicians. There is no doubt, though, that her proclivity toward verbal confusion and gaffes is a serious weakness and a great vulnerability. Her credibility as a presidential candidate rests on her successfully making the effort to overcome these kinds of weaknesses. If Palin isn’t willing or able to improve, she is not going to be nominated.