Applying the ACORN Standard to Sarah Palin

I’m not a fan of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, or his inspiration, Allan Funt of Candid Camera. It’s very easy to take people by surprise and make them look stupid, film them unawares and show them in the worst light.

I feel a little sympathy for Sarah Palin, who was ambushed by a comedian posing as a Canadian reporter asking for America’s help in fighting socialized medicine. If Palin had time to consider the issue, and maybe study up on it, she would probably not have supported dismantling Canada’s public health system. She would instead have tapped her gift for sounding forthright and committing to nothing, you betcha.

But she was caught with her guard down and spoke her mind. A unique mind seething with visions that her staffers try to keep her from revealing before the appointed time…

After being kicked out of the book-signing, [comedian Mary]Walsh and her crew then waited outside at a loading dock close to where Palin’s bus was parked. When Palin emerged from the Borders bookstore, Walsh said, Delahunty – dressed in a more toned-down version of her trademark warrior princess costume – called out to her.

“Hey, remember us, we’re the Canadians! We came all the way here from Canada!” Delahunty yelled. “When we asked you that question, we didn’t hear your answer.”

Palin strolled over, looking down on Walsh and her crew to tell them that “Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit.”

“Basically, she said government should stop doing the work that private enterprise should do,” Walsh said.

In addition to those comments, Walsh said, she found it equally bizarre that no one was allowed to ask Palin any questions at the book-signing.

“It was great fun, but also very strange,” Walsh recalled.

“We’re in a bookstore, at a public event, in a place one would think was a bastion of free speech. And no one was allowed to ask questions. What are they afraid of?”

Well that should be obvious. They’re afraid of an unscripted moment, or a mis-speak, caught by the candid camera.

Palin is a master of the wink and the nod, but she has trouble when she has to stand by her words. She’s a politician who is a serious candidate for president, by some people’s standards. She’s experienced in dealing with the press and the public, she’s been tricked before by impostors, and should be better at spotting them.

But she’s only human. Anyone can have an unwary moment. And on film or tape you can replay that moment endlessly.

So if American politics is going to slow it’s long slide into incivility, meanness and ‘gotcha’ moments, we have to start putting the brakes on.

Consider the young, low-level ACORN staffers who were lured into giving advice to some young right-wing activists who posed as a pimp and a prostitute. They were surely unwarned, inadequately trained, and ACORN has paid dearly for that failure. ACORN has other internal financial problems and might not withstand the current investigations.

But to find the whole organization guilty of wrongdoing based on some employees falling prey to entrapment and secret taping would be as unfair as claiming that Sarah Palin has an agenda to dismantle the Canadian health care system, or that Newt Gingrich tried to sell intimate encounters with himself to strip club owners– just because his low-level staffers sent some letters. Interesting mailing list they have, though. That might bear some investigation.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, when speaking to constituents this Fall at the Butcher Block Deli, said that ACORN needed to be investigated, but that he did not support imposing the sentence before the trial.

If it’s all about sound bites, ‘gotcha’ and entrapment, could any of us stand up?

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2 responses

  1. No.

    Anyone who wants to be president should–must–be held to a higher standard. There are no ‘unscripted’ moments.

    If the candidate is serious, and is to be considered legitimate, any question, any time is fair game. If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.

    That’s one of the things I most like about a parliamentary system. The PM has to go down into the pit and stand up to the questions of all comers. I recall several clips of Tony Blair doing just that.

    Imagine Geo Bush having to face that sort of pressure. Or Sarah Palin. Somehow, GOP presidential candidates feel they are above that sort of thing.

    Or, they know they don’t dare face that sort of questioning, because, bottom line, they got nothing to say. They simply cannot defend their ridiculous positions with any logic, or consistency.

  2. Silliness knows few if any bounds and lack of information on the Right is as abundant as that same lack on the Left. Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden are not the world’s most adept or iconic bastions of knowledge. During the campsign season, Mr. Obama was not sure,”if he had visited 57 of our 58 states,” and proclaimed with force, “that we must do away with all forms of carbon.” Since becoming President, after discussions with former Soviet KGB folks, now Russian politicians, Mr. Obama, never one to display much substantive historical knowledge, let the Czechs know at midnight that we would not envelope them in an anti-missile shield exactly on the 50th aniversary of the Soviet military invasion of that country to put down a democratic uprising. Mr. Biden, forever the clown prince of politics, and guilty of more gaffs than a Three Stooges film, remains the leading contender for the annual foot-in-mouth award, cloely followed by Ms Boxer and Mr. Kerry. There is a uniformity of silliness and vegetable intelligence in both major parties, which seems to make independents more attractive than ever.

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