Sarah Palin and the Media Elite

Someone on my friends list posted a link to a Vanity Fair article that took a red pen to a transcript of Sarah Palin’s resignation speech. The speech itself — and the woman delivering it — is definitely not going to go down in history as a marvel of oratory. Posting the copy-edited version of it seems a cheap shot, though. The ex-copy-editor in me can’t help but get a kick out of the fact that people are still using the shorthand I learned years ago, and which used to be my bread and butter. The left-leaning Democrat in me loves the schadenfreude that comes with seeing Palin made a fool of. But haven’t we made enough of a fool of her?

And in a way, it seems to me that mocking her lack of verbal skills is just feeding into the class and cultural divides that gave us Red States and Blue States. Dubya was notorious for his lack of oratory, and New Englanders loved to make fun of him for it. But it didn’t stop him from keeping the highest office in the land for not one but two terms.

We can’t assume that people make rational decisions when it comes to politics. It’s much easier to look at things in terms of Red States and Blue States than it is to look at individuals and their motivations. But which is really the more conscious way of viewing an issue?

In the end, I think we can all agree that Palin has about as much a chance of becoming the next POTUS as Dan Quayle does. But we also can’t dismiss her because her speeches don’t stand up to Obama’s. Actions matter — but so does marketing.

3 Replies to “Sarah Palin and the Media Elite”

  1. Good points. For me, the most noticeable aspect of Palin’s speech was the content: it sounded as though it was almost entirely composed of canned talking points scotch-taped together at random. It was truly bizarre. I actually felt awkward listening to it, in the same way I get uncomfortable watching movies where I know a character is headed for certain embarrassment.

  2. I can see your point, that the copy-editing can seem like a cheap shot. But I would also argue that the basic point here is that it is a reasonable expectation that those in high public office should be able to effectively express themselves, verbally and in writing. If someone cannot clearly communicate, they really should not be in political office (or any number of other careers, for that matter). And as a college professor, I would also say that, in many cases, confused or muddled expression is often due to confused or muddled thought. That is, if Sarah Palin isn’t making clear and concise points in her speech, I would bet that she doesn’t really know what she wants to say (or that she is purposefully obfuscating, a different issue and troubling in its own right). So I do think that oratory (or communication) is a reasonable criteria by which we can judge politicians.
    That being said, I would also agree that this may have nothing to do with being electable or not. There are loads of politicians who were not good speakers, but managed to get elected (for whatever reason). But I’m still going to criticize poor speaking and writing when I am confronted with it. šŸ˜‰

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