Sarah Palin’s Cognitive Dissonance
News junkiedom can be a demanding (and demeaning) addiction at times, but I doubt I’ll ever be so desperately in need of a fix that I’ll do anything like pore over the 24,000-plus pages of Sarah Palin’s emails released by the state of Alaska last weekend as official documents from her legendary half-term as governor.
Other folks did, of course — with largely unnewsworthy results. And perhaps as an indication of someone having way too much time on their hands, on Friday the surprisingly-still-in-existence New Republic published something approaching a scholarly analysis of the ordinariness and relative coherence of Palin’s writing:
Call her defensive or parochial based on the cache of her spontaneous writings while serving as governor of Alaska, but something easy to miss is that Palin, in contrast to her meandering, involuted speaking style, is a thoroughly competent writer—more so than a great many people most of us likely know….
Indeed, her facility in writing proves something one might be pardoned for supposing she was exaggerating about in Going Rogue, her autobiography, in which she limns a childhood portrait of herself as a bibliophilic sort of tot….
… And yet, the oratorical Palin is the swivel-tongue we all know—which means that Palin demonstrates with almost scientific precision that writing well stems not from general linguistic ability, but the specific activity of reading early.
Umm… right. I suppose this claim isn’t as much of a reach as endorsing the wisdom of invading Iraq or nominating Joe Lieberman for President, but it’s up there. On Twitter, Lance Mannion offered a simpler interpretation:
…. the reason Palin talks “funny” is that she’s faking the folksiness… So Palin may trip herself up translating herself from English into cornball. GHW Bush had same problem.
As it happens, this is an issue that’s come up before — as shown in the video inset above. It depicts an evolution toward scatterbrained speech uncannily like a similar transformation that occurred with George W. Bush when he decided to run for the White House.
I’m not sure which is more surprising… that Palin or Bush thought they could fool people (and the media) with such transparent pretense, or that so many were in fact fooled.