Monday, July 19, 2010

Dear Sarah, I'm On Vacation.

So I go on vacation for three whole days, and the Shakesphere asplodes when Sarah Palin compares herelf to Shakespeare.  Wonderful.

Specifically, for those that haven't seen it (or don't care as much), she made a post using the interesting word "refudiate".  When people pointed out that this was probably not the word she meant, as it was not actually a word, she a) changed the original Twitter message to read "refute", and b) said that Shakespeare liked to coin words, too.

Three thoughts.  We've brushed against political topics here in the past without much ado, but I get the feeling that these days you pick the wrong target and everybody goes absolutely batshite nutty. 

First, in defense of Mr. Shakespeare (as if he needs it), the man deliberately constructed new words for the purposes of his poetry, not because he simply didn't know the right word.  

Second, either defend your apparently deliberate coinage of a new word, or change the word to something else, but how can you do both? If it was the word you meant, why did you change it? If you legitimately made a mistake to be corrected, why try to cover it up?  Plenty of politicians, past and present, Republican and Democrat alike, have misspoken and made up words.  That's not the thing that bothers people, it's the refusal to acknowledge it as an honest mistake.

Third, "refute" ("Peaceful New Yorkers, please refute the Ground Zero mosque plan ...") is still not the correct word to use, since it means "prove to be false or erroneous."  She may want you to prove that it's a bad idea, but that's not the same thing as proving that there is no such plan.  She may have meant "repudiate",  which means something more akin to "refuse to acknowledge, or to disown."  That's my guess.  I think the refute thing is the red herring, and that she just misspoke repudiate.  No biggie.

Then again this all happened on Twitter, so perhaps the real problem is that she really did mean both words, and just ran out of characters?

Ok, I'm going back to vacation.   Flame away, I'll be on the beach.


Anonymous said...

I agree with all three points and would like to add that some people wonder why our country is having problems? Not only are people who are supposed to be in positions of authority refusing to own up on tiny and somewhat insignificant issues, but the whole thing happened on twitter. the whole thing makes me sad.

JM said...

A cheap marketeer who sells herself at our expense with cheap marketing tricks; someone with no facility for words whatsoever; excuses and credits herself in one fell swoop through association with the greatest word smith in the universe. No big surprise in Orwell's Amerika.
And lest we forget, Twitter begins with TWIT. But you no longer have to be smart to sell it in Amerika--it no longer matters WHAT is said--just HOW. Just learn the simple formula and be wily and deceptive enough to repeat it over and over again. And keep it short so no one can think about or discuss what might really be behind it. "Too long; didn't read--but I heard this great slogan the other day..." My god we're a gullible bunch, aren't we?

American Delight said...

It's inaccurate to say that Palin has no facility for words. She is vivid speaker.

"Your plan is a white flag of surrender..."

"You know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick."

You may disagree with her positions, but she paints pictures with her words. Folks like Hillary Clinton are dry and wonkish. And politicians like Bill Clinton use words to conceal their meaning, whereas Palin (and Bush) use words (even incorrectly) to express exactly what they mean. Which is worse?

JM said...

Yeah, she's a real Poet. If you count repeating slogans and trite gradeschool attempts at metaphor over and over again as some sort of literary expertise. The only thing "vivid" about her is her lurid dishonesty--and maybe her wardrobe.
And Bush and Palin say exactly what they mean? I think it's been proven over and over that they say exactly what they DON'T mean.

Ren du Braque said...

In my opinion, the craziest part of all of this is the liberal attitude or liberty Palin employs when declaring her kinship with Shakespeare. Conservatives are supposed to insist upon a correct and somewhat inflexible application of words and syntax based upon credible reference sources. Only in times of divine inspiration are you allowed to bend these rules. Oh wait, she also has a direct line to the Almighty. That last line was a bit over the top, but I'd just like to point out how odd it is that she is in agreement with the no-rules (for me but of course lots of rules for you) crowd. It may be a bit of a stretch, but I think the conservatives have finally openly acknowledged being postmodern. I hear the exact same arguments from Foucault-quoting, too-ironic-for-my-own-good, self-proclaimed hipsters who generally regard themselves as more socially progressive and ethically superior to people stuck in the past, aka Shakespeare admirers.

Regarding saying what you mean, etc. Unfortunately, American Delight has a point. An English teacher once rated the campaign speeches of Bush and Kerry and found that if he had to grade their efforts, Bush would get much higher marks. Bush stays on topic and drills down his pointed-headed inane dualistic points. On the other hand, there is no comparison between Bush and Clinton with what is hidden. Bush sold us a war with no credible evidence. He hid much more by extolling the virtues that exist only in textbooks he never read while at the Harvard business school, and we are still paying for it.

I promise you now. I do not desire to debate Bush/Palin versus Clinton/Clinton. Big deal. On the other hand, Shakespeare, that's my one and only big deal. Use of language in general, and how we abuse it--that's interesting too.

American Delight said...

JM, "her wardrobe"? Wow, that's relevant.

JM said...

Haven't you heard? Very relevant--to Palin. :)