Monday, 8 February 2010

Crib Notes and TelePrompTers

Okay - the furor over Sarah Palin's use of crudely scribbled notes on her palm:

...would be silly if she hadn't followed the right-wing script of leaping down Obama's throat for his use of a TelePrompTer every time she was given the shadow of an opportunity. I think Joan Walsh pretty much hit the nail on the head when it comes to summarizing the tone of Palin's Tea Party speech (and, frankly, her whole Nuremberg Junior approach to politics in general):

I know journalists aren't supposed to use words like mean and dumb, but I can't help it. Palin is one of the meanest people on the public stage today. She wallows in it. She loves it! Also? Possibly one of the dumbest. But mean works, and so does dumb. And so do lies, and there were many mean, dumb lies in her speech.

Dave Weigel* also noted Palin's tone:

“How’s that hopey-changey thing working out for ya?” said Palin, paraphrasing a slogan made popular on Tea Party t-shirts.” She mocked the stimulus package — the speech was heavy on mockery — by leaning slightly down and saying “nobody messes with Joe,” quoting a comment President Obama made that has been more or less forgotten outside of Tea Party circles.

Leaving aside the standard use of TelePrompTers by every living human who speaks in the media, I was personally pissed off by both Palin (and the right in general) making this an issue, and then Palin's change of heart on crib notes for personal reasons.

Not to toot my own horn, but I was Utah State Champion in National Extemporaneous Speech/Debate in both 1998 and 1999 (I was also a double ruby member of the National Forensics League). For all of you non-nerds out there, this is what my event was: I was given a topic, and had 30 minutes to write and memorize a persuasive seven minute argument on the subject. None of us were allowed TelePrompTers, true, but none of us were allowed to jot down notes on our palms, either (that, to me, seems like the domain of grade school kids trying to cheat an exam).

President Obama is a professor of Constitutional law. He faced down a hostile GOP assembly with no notes and no prompts. Sarah Palin is a failed Governer of a weird, backwater state, and can't even answer softball questions from the most friendly audience imaginable without resorting to crib notes scribbled on her palm.

Sarah Palin is the type of worthless political hack who never could have cut it in Extemp, let alone mainstream politics, and yet here we have a whole movement (albeit a small and silly one) ready to embrace her.

* - Dave Weigel's coverage of the convention is invaluable, and I encourage anyone interested in this freak show to follow it at the Washington Independent.

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