We were sailing when Sarah Palin announced she was advancing in another direction, so I missed the fun of the announcement. Saw a minute or two here and there on the web, which was about as long as I could stand; whenever I hear her supporters say, “She drives liberals crazy!!!” I can only agree. I think they misunderstand the reason, however. It’s not because she has a child with Down Syndrome or a rifle or an unwed pregnant daughter. And sorry, crazy-man-I-found-via-James-Wolcott-and-I-will-think-twice-before-doing-that-again, it’s not because of this:
Finally, but by no means least, she wears figure-flattering clothes, grooms herself beautifully, and walks gracefully and confidently in high heels.
It’s just annoying, at an elemental level, to think that a person could get so close to the presidency who writes like this:
Alaska’s mission – to contribute to America. We’re strategic IN the world as the air crossroads OF the world, as a gatekeeper of the continent. Bold visionaries knew this – Alaska would be part of America’s great destiny.
Our destiny to be reached by responsibly developing our natural resources. This land, blessed with clean air, water, wildlife, minerals, AND oil and gas. It’s energy! God gave us energy.
So to serve the state is a humbling responsibility, because I know in my soul that Alaska is of such import, for America’s security, in our very volatile world. And you know me by now, I promised even four years ago to show MY independence… no more conventional “politics as usual”.
And we are doing well! My administration’s accomplishments speak for themselves. We work tirelessly for Alaskans.
I’m aware, with every passing year, that no one really cares about written or even spoken expression in any meaningful way. A catch phrase, a snappy delivery, a one-liner or two — that’s all anyone expects from people in the public eye. But even I, who thought I’d seen all of Sarah Palin anyone needed to see, was…what’s the word? Le mot juste? Oh, hell, let’s go with the obvious and trite: I was offended. Yes. Offended by this rambling, nonsensical exercise in narcissism. What the hell is she talking about? Alaska, sure. Commitment, not so sure. Sarah, certainly. And all those capital letters. MY independence. AND oil and gas. And exclamation points! We are doing well!
Sarah is, anyway.
I’m a writer, and I have all the writer’s irrational prejudices about people who don’t understand subject-verb agreement and the importance of proper spelling. I’m aware this makes me something of a snob and elitist, but I don’t care. This shit ain’t rocket science, and people who write competently, never mind stylishly, are indicating by their example that they respect writing. People who respect writing are more likely to read. And readers are smarter, there I said it.
The case has been made that Palin is smart, but a different kind of smart. Not fancypants Obama booklearnin’ smart, but hardscrabble shoeshine-and-a-smile bachelor’s-degree-by-way-of-five-schools smart, the sort of smart that used to be called shrewd. Hmm. OK. I acknowledge there are different kinds of intelligence, that a person who is genius at negotiation but dumb at math is no dummy, and that a person who is great at math but cannot learn that it’s wise to pay attention to one’s personal grooming may well have a brain dysfunction, but I’m still a writer, and I still say it’s spinach and I still say the hell with it.
One interesting thing about Palin’s statement you only see in the written version, as painful as it is to read: She capitalizes “outside” when speaking of “Outside special interests.” Outside is, of course, Alaska code for the lower 48. Could any other politician with national aspirations get away with trashing the rest of the country?
I wish you’d hear MORE from the media of your state’s progress and how we tackle Outside interests – daily – SPECIAL interests that would stymie our state.
Oil companies — not a special interest. Mining — not a special interest. Commercial fishing — not a special interest. What color is the sky in Sarah’s world?
A bit of bloggage:
I’ve read uneven reviews of “Methland,” but Walter Kirn’s in the NYT was over-the-top positive. I don’t trust Kirn, but this may be a library reserve-list item. There’s been a lot reported about meth, but not as much about the why, why a drug so toxic and dangerous could take root in what is allegedly the blissful countryside. It seems Nick Reding’s book gets close:
The agricultural conglomerates that have gobbled up Oelwein and similar farm towns may feed the world, but they starve the folks who work for them, breeding a craving for synthetic stimulants that conveniently sap the appetite while enlarging the body’s capacity for toil. These offal-streaked Dickensian mills are also magnets for desperate immigrant laborers who, in some cases, blaze the smuggling trails that run up into the Corn Belt from Mexico, home to the gang lords who own the superlabs that, increasingly, dominate the meth trade.
“Vicious cycle” is not an adequate term. As Reding painstakingly presents it, the production, distribution and consumption of methamphetamine is a self-catalyzing catastrophe of Chernobylish dimensions. The rich, with their far-off, insulated lives, get richer and more detached, while the poor get high and, finally, wasted. In the meanwhile, the traffickers fatten in their dens, expanding their arsenals and their private armies, some of whose troops are recruited from the ranks of the pale zombies their business spawns.
This is one reason I get so impatient when the Rod Drehers of the world paint such rosy pictures of the world outside the cities. I’ve been to Dekalb County, friends — it ain’t all sustainable organic farming and chickens in the yard.
So how was y’all’s weekend? Mine was fine and dandy. Alan installed a screen door on our back door, a feature that had been missing. It’s the best thing we’ve done since we made Kate. Nothing says summer like the back door standing open to the screen.
And a hot week awaits to enjoy it. Enjoy yours, but already my responsibilities are prodding me.