The Language of Palin

Although The Sun and Anchor is not a political organ, I couldn’t help but notice that Sarah Palin resigned her governship this weekend. Although I will refrain from commenting, one way or another, on the political animal that was that northern pitbull, from a verbal standpoint I’m glad she is gone. For the year she has spent in the national consciousness, Governor Palin has been the Johnny Appleseed of useless speech, tossing extra words and phrases wherever she felt the landscape needed them.

Last October Slate’s Kitty Burns Florey attempted to make some sense of the Governor’s unique prose style. Applying the diagramming techniques taught to unwilling fifth graders across the country, she found that the Vice-Presidential nominee’s thoughts sit uneasily on paper. After all, what is a grammarian supposed to do with a gem like this:

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.

When in doubt, insert a buzzword. If not “families,” then “not politics as usual,” or simply the word “now.” Pundits mistook her ebullient nonsense for charisma, and her willingness to speak gibberish was supposedly, as it was in our last president, part of her appeal to regular Americans. H.L. Mencken loved American speech because it was rough, direct and clear, and I love the American people for rejecting her and proving that the GOP was wrong to assume that ordinary people need to be spoken to like ill-behaved children. It’s politicians, not ordinary people, who hide behind a screen of unneeded words, and it is a good thing for political speech that Sarah Palin is a politician no longer.

That said, I can’t wait to see her on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

And as an aside, check out Anderson Cooper trying to parse the words of Palin’s spokesperson Meg Stapleton, on the day of the resignation. Apparently nonsense is popular in the Alaskan GOP.

–W.M. Akers

* W.M. Akers is a contributing editor for The Sun & Anchor *


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