I’m fascinated by politician-at-large Sarah Palin’s use of language. She is a brilliant communicator of indefensible ideas via wink and nod. She cultivates a vagueness that
passes as casual sincerity, but serves her with deniability.
Anyone can make a verbal slip, especially under pressure. But there’s more than that happening with her ‘North Korea’ gaffe.
“We’re not having a lot of faith that the White House is going to come out with a strong enough policy to sanction what it is that North Korea is going to do,” she said on the Fox News presenter’s nationally syndicated radio show.
“So this speaks to a bigger picture here that certainly scares me in terms of our national security policies.
“But obviously we gotta stand with our North Korean allies.”
Screen out for a moment her error in which Korea she was referring to. Consider that this is the former governor of Alaska and that she could have been our president– making foreign policy and defense decisions. Note that she doesn’t even say ‘I’. It’s some nebulous ‘We’. You and who else, Sarah?
She’s being interviewed on the radio by Glenn Beck, who’s doing everything short of giving her a foot massage. Does she dare to say what she would actually do, or what the president should do, in this crisis? No, she just says that the situation scares her.
Well yeah, it scares everyone. But if you aspire to lead and want to criticize the president you need to put out something specific. What comes next tells a lot about how she uses language to cover her lack of knowledge.
I mean, a reasonable response would have been for her to slap her forehead and say ‘Golly– of course, I meant to say ‘South Korea’, but she doesn’t. Because at that moment she can’t get her Koreas straight even with prompting, so she runs for cover…
When the host immediately corrected her Mrs Palin repeated: “Er yeah. And we’re also bound by prudence to stand with our South Korean allies, yes.”
‘We’re also’? This doesn’t make sense. We’re not supporting both Koreas now. We are facing a belligerent North Korea that has been trouble for more than two generations. There was this Korean War she might want to read up on.
She’s good with the dig and the implication, but when it comes to risking a real opinion and saying what she would do about this crisis, she runs for cover.
Again, anyone can make a verbal slip, but how she handled it speaks volumes.