Friday, September 12, 2008

The MILF and that other Oedipus complex


I guess everyone has had that experience of being called upon in school when you didn’t really know the answer. And instead of owning up to it, you try to fake your way through it, except that it is of course painfully obvious to everyone that you’re essentially trying to surf on a wave of bullshit. For instance, my undergraduate theatre history class at Penn State was infamous for being tough. Due to the fantastic amount of detail we were expected to know, it was a difficult class to stay on top of, and once the professor caught me unprepared on the subject of an obscure Roman playwright named Pomponius. It went something like this:

Prof: Vikkitikkitavi, please explain the significance of Pomponius.

Me: Well, Pomponius was a playwright in ancient Rome, and as a Roman, he wrote about themes that were popular with the Romans, using characters that ancient Romans would have been familiar with. So he was quite a significant playwright.

Prof: What themes would those be?

Me: Uh, love, and…um, life. And of course death.

Prof: And what was his contribution to Stoicism?

Me: Oh, he was definitely a member of the movement of Stoicism, and he wrote his plays using the principals of Stoic literature. His heroes were, um, Stoic as well in that they adhered to Stoic ideals.

Prof: It sounds as if you believe that this rather minor comic playwright is one of the pillars of classical Stoicism.

Me: Oh. I…um… I wouldn’t say that.

Prof: What would you say, then?

Me: Well, um, that being a minor comic playwright, of course, his take on Stoicism…is different than what, you know, a major tragic playwright’s take would be. But still an important take, you know, just different. Because he’s a comic playwright, I mean, a minor one, but still.

I bring up this rather painful and humiliating memory because it reminds me of watching Sarah Palin in her first television interview since being named the Republican VP candidate. Watching Charlie Gibson prod her through some fairly cringe-inducing lapses, it struck me that she resembled nothing so much as a student trying to bullshit her way through an oral exam. Witness this exchange:

GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?

GIBSON: The Bush -- well, what do you -- what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view.

GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.

PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. And with new leadership, and that's the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better.

GIBSON: The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?

PALIN: I agree that a president's job, when they swear in their oath to uphold our Constitution, their top priority is to defend the United States of America. I know that John McCain will do that and I, as his vice president, families we are blessed with that vote of the American people and are elected to serve and are sworn in on January 20, that will be our top priority is to defend the American people.

GIBSON: Do we have a right to anticipatory self-defense? Do we have a right to make a preemptive strike again another country if we feel that country might strike us?

PALIN: Charlie, if there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country. In fact, the president has the obligation, the duty to defend.

Here’s another classroom tactic on display as she tries to defend her suggestion that Iran’s nuclear ambitions can be controlled with – surprise! – sanctions:

GIBSON: But, Governor, we've threatened greater sanctions against Iran for a long time. It hasn't done any good. It hasn't stemmed their nuclear program.

PALIN: We need to pursue those and we need to implement those. We cannot back off. We cannot just concede that, oh, gee, maybe they're going to have nuclear weapons, what can we do about it. No way, not Americans. We do not have to stand for that.

GIBSON: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?

PALIN: Well, first, we are friends with Israel and I don't think that we should second guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.

GIBSON: So if we wouldn't second guess it and they decided they needed to do it because Iran was an existential threat, we would cooperative or agree with that.

PALIN: I don't think we can second guess what Israel has to do to secure its nation.

GIBSON: So if it felt necessary, if it felt the need to defend itself by taking out Iranian nuclear facilities, that would be all right.

PALIN: We cannot second guess the steps that Israel has to take to defend itself.

Yeah, when you only have one thing to say, just keep repeating it. If you emphasize different words each time, no one will even notice.

Also, I noticed that the Governor has resorted to the Bush affectation of pronouncing the word “nuclear” as “nuke-ular.” No doubt the campaign is not anxious to invoke any Bush/Palin foreign policy parallels, which might explain why, during the Republican convention, the word “nuclear” was spelled out for her phonetically on the teleprompter as “new-clear” in each place where it occurred. True.

Some other notable events of the interview, in which Palin:

-reversed her opinion that the jury was out on whether humans contribute to global climate change…so now they definitely “could be”

-decided that maybe she is not privy to God’s day planner after all

-advocated defending Georgia, even if it means war with Russia, which apparently invaded Georgia without provocation, although didn’t mention that this opinion might have been influenced by a lobbyist for the government of Georgia now working for the McCain campaign

-believes that proximity to Russia imparts to her, apparently through osmosis, foreign policy experience – which is great news for me, because it means that proximity to my broken sink now means that I am a plumber

-definitely does not know what the word “hubris” means

And readers, as anyone who has studied their classical playwrights knows, it’s that last one that gets ya.


13 comments:

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

It's okay though, she's a babe after all! So says Rush anyway.

jcat said...

We agree that it is terribly insulting in countless ways that she is in a position to become the next VP of the USA. The Krugman article in the NY Times today rightly pointed out the correlation between the gutter politics of the Bush/Cheney campaign and how they governed. Krugman thinks that what is going on now is worse suggesting an even scarier McCain/Palin Administration. God forbid. But what really irks me is the Obama campaigns performance of late including their ridiculous "out of touch" ad they ran today. Do they really think people won't vots for McCain because he doesn't know how to operate a computer. It's being interpreted as an attack on his age which is the last thing they should want to do now. They seem to have seriously lost there way. I know one thing and that their money will dry up if they don't re-engage real soon.

GETkristiLOVE said...

I only looked up to you because I thought you knew the significance of Pomponius.

Michael said...

I was thinking of that girl from that beauty pageant. You know, the one that restates your question so that you know that she understands it, then proceeds to say whatever it she can remember she should say. You know which one I mean.

Dad E said...

I tried to scramble to find out more about Pomponius so I Googled "Pomponius stoicim". Your post above showed up 4th with the first 3 not providing any information on the subject. So I would have to say you are probably as much an expert on Pomponius as Palin is on the Bush Doctrine.

I think your marrying the actions of an unprepared student with Palin's answers is genius. This idea should be the format of a Democratic ad (not an Obama ad) against McCain's lack of judgment and foreign relations knowledge as to suggest Palin is qualified because Russia can be seen from Alaska.

On Maher's Real Time show last night, Paul Begala (former member of the Clinton campaign) pointed out the McCain has not been interviewed on issues that Palin was subjected to by "Charlie" Gibbons.

The Obama campaign should ignore Palin now and direct most of its attention on McCain. Unleash Bill and Hillary. Bill's legacy is at stake. Time to roll up the sleeves and take em on.

kirby said...

If Palin's fatal flaw is hubris, then what would McCain's be? The way he's gone nuts up for Palin, it might be uxoriousness. Yeah, that worked out pretty well for that Adam guy.

Cap'n Ergo "Carthage" Jinglebollocks said...

And if elected, she'll be running the free world when McCain topples over from a heart attack from old age.

Only in Amerikuh.

Phil said...

What's his name, Frum, was on Maher as well, and described this exchange as a 'gotcha question.' That he, Frum, and many of the early presidential canidates couldn't have answered it. That Stephonopolus asked the same question but had defined The Bush Doctrine first for those answering.

Man, I wish my college proffessors had given me the answers first.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Monkey: I think Rush secretly wants a woman to field dress him like a moose, so it's hardly surprising that he has a hard-on for Palin.

JCat: I don't agree that the Obama campaign has lost their way. I always think that those kind of negative ads are ineffective, and I've been wrong every time.

GKL: You looked up to me? Damn, and I missed it.

Michael: You mean all of them, right?

DadE: I think that's exactly what the Obama campaign is about to do. Biden just made a nice statement comparing McCain to Bush in 2000, when he was all about "reforming" the Republican party and Washington.

Kirby: Uxoriousness? Damn, girl, as tempting as it is, I got to go with hubris for McCain as well. I get a distinct whiff of entitlement off the McCain campaign.

Capt.ECJB: I heard that if you use insurance actuary tables, McCain's got a 1 in 3 of not surviving the first term. Holy balls.

Phil: First of all, I call bullshit on Frum. Secondly, even if true, what the hell kind of defense is that? "Hey, folks, she's only as uninformed as Ron Paul!"

dguzman said...

I call bullshit on Palin herself.

Bubs said...

I'm watching all this with an increasing sense of disbelief and horror.

Grant Miller said...

If only she'd been vetted by the public and press sooner - she'd be seen as the whack job she is by now. Unfortunately, with less than two months to the election she might just sneak in to the White House before anyone realizes quite how batshit she is.

SJ said...

The entire country is failing and we may very well elect more of the same. I'm more horrified now than I was 4 years ago, 8 years ago.