An Actual Conversation About Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin is smarter than Stephen Hawking -- but probably not Bill Gates.

So, a Sarah Palin supporter sends me a tweet that says, “new at NPR, how OTB hates Palin so much they can’t get history right.”

Somewhat befuddled, I follow the link to an NPR interview with a historian who explains that Sarah Palin got all the facts of the Paul Revere story wrong but, in his mind, vindicates Palin because he agrees with the interviewer’s bizarre interpetation that Palin kinda-sorta got it right.

My posting explaining the story to him, shockingly, doesn’t help.

So, he tweets, “just scanned your twitter feed for Palin mentions. Looks like you write & repost only antiPalin stories that support your beliefs.”

I quip, “When Palin does noteworthy non-idiotic things, I mention them. Alas …”

He retorts, “careful your closet liberal leanings are bordering on misogyny. If you can’t find anything nice to say about @SarahPalinUSA …”

I reply: “You caught me: My chief objection to @sarahpalinusa is that she’s a woman, not that she’s an ignoramus.”

His retort: “Going from mayor, to Chairwoman of the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission to Governor makes @sarahpalinusa smarter than you.”

To which I respond, “Right….the chief way to demonstrate intelligence is to get elected to political office? By that standard, @sarahpalinusa is smarter than Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates, too.” (2 tweets)

Without skipping a beat: “Maybe Hawking, not Bill. ”

Sigh.

The rest of his tweet, though, gets to a more general theme that I get: “My issue is your lack of team spirit. Your constant heckling of @SarahPalinUSA is in bad form.”

To which I respond: “I’m a Cowboys fan and constantly called for Wade Phillips to be fired, too.”  Thinking that too cryptic, I add: “2/3 of the country think Palin’s unqualified to be president. Nominating her means four more years for Obama.”

He responds, “Im a @THEHermanCain fan myself, but piling on @SarahPalinUSA is still bad form. When do we get to read how boring @MittRomney is?”

I tell him I’ve been writing about that since 2007.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Chad S says:

    I don’t care who this offends, but she doesn’t have followers, she has cult members who are willing to ignore any mistake/blunder/failure on her part because they have to keep worshipping at the temple of Lady Gaga(or Mooseferatu) no matter what.

    Now, cue the pissy responses from the usual suspects which just prove my point.

  2. Hey Norm says:

    Well…1/2 a term smarter maybe.

  3. Ken says:

    “My issue is your lack of team spirit. Your constant heckling of @SarahPalinUSA is in bad form.”

    You guys don’t like profanity around here, so: fornicate “team spirit” right in the Beck until there’s Santorum everywhere.

  4. James Joyner says:

    There’s definitely some of that. And there’s likely some “derangement syndrome” among the antis, too.

    But the Palin cultists truly believe that Doug Mataconis, Steven Taylor, and myself not only have some visceral hatred of her — rather than simply thinking she’s not of presidential timber — but are traitors to the Republican Party, the conservative moment, and the United States of America. And we secretly love Obama.

  5. Chad S says:

    @james The Palin cultists believe in a totally Zoroastrianism world view: either you’re with her 1000%, no matter what she says or does, or you’re part of the nebulous conspiracy against her.

    Just wait until her movie comes out that slams the DC GOP leadership by name.

  6. Mark Trueblood says:

    I think Sarah Palin has some good qualities, and I can understand why people find her an inspirational figure. I don’t think she belongs anywhere near the office of POTUS for one simple reason: she quit her job as governor because people were mean to her.

    If she wants to run for senator somewhere, get elected, and prove she can do the job without quitting in a couple of years, then maybe I’ll be more open-minded.

  7. James,

    This sounds so like innumerable conversations I’ve had about Palin but I’ve got to say the “smarter than Hawking” line is a first.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    James:

    I think at that point in the conversation you tweet a picture of yourself in jockey shorts and call it a day.

  9. legion says:

    “Going from mayor, to Chairwoman of the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission to Governor makes @sarahpalinusa smarter than you.”

    That’s really the ‘tell’ right there. Because she held positions of responsibility, therefore she is smarter than you regarding US History and, presumably, every other subject too. That’s how you can tell the difference between a supporter and a feeble-minded hero-worshipper who just wants some Big Daddy to tell them right from wrong. Sigh.

    I wonder if this person would agree that, by having been a successful lawyer, successful Senator, and VP on a ticket that actually won the White House, Dan Quayle is therefore vastly smarter than Palin…

  10. Wiley Stoner says:

    Well James, maybe you can explain why she scares the ____ out of you and your ilk? Her dad was a teacher. Do you somehow think education was not important in her family? I don’t know how smart she is but I know she is smart enough to out fox those who think she is not very smart. We currently have a President who when to the best schools. He became a leader and now leads the country down a path it does not wish to go. Our educational system, the same one which conferred a Ph. D. n you allows men like Bill Ayers and like minded individuals to hold tenured professor positions. Palin loves America, for that she gets critiqued by people like you. Funny how we do not read about the gaffes Obama commits nearly every time he opens his mouth. In fact between gaffes and lies what else does Obama spew? OTB does not seem to be interested in what the current administration is doing. Finally, I want to let you know you people here are starting to be mentioned, in less than glowing terms, on other blogs. DU lite?

  11. “…one should be gentle with the ignorant, for they are the chosen of God.”

  12. Ken says:

    Finally, I want to let you know you people here are starting to be mentioned, in less than glowing terms, on other blogs. DU lite?

    Did you hear that, James? OTB is being UNFAVORABLY MENTIONED ON OTHER BLOGS.

    Take THAT.

  13. @Ken

    I don’t know how James feels but I’m really only concerned with whether they spell my name right.

  14. jwest says:

    Palin, with her journalism degree from Bumfuck U, walks into a room full of Ivy League grads working for oil companies with billions at their disposal, along with corrupt politicians with 30 years of experience and when everything is said and done the multinational corporations, the Harvard lawyers, the entrenched politicians all lose and she (and the people of Alaska) win.

    That’s how to measure accomplishment. The smart people win.

  15. george says:

    The odd thing is that many of her supporters probably do think she’s more intelligent than Hawkings. Curiously, I suspect Bill Gates would argue that he’s obviously a better business man than Hawkings, I suspect he would laugh at the idea that he’s smarter than Hawkings.

  16. @jwest

    The question is what happened to that seemingly competent Governor who accomplished things by working across party lines. She seems to have been replaced by a hyper-partisan shrieker who does little but repeat the same sound bites over and over again.

  17. Rock says:

    . . . she doesn’t have followers, she has cult members who are willing to ignore any mistake . . .

    The Barack Hussein Obama II cult is much larger and just as stupid.

  18. jwest says:

    “what happened to that seemingly competent Governor who accomplished things by working across party lines.”

    She’s still there, hidden behind a pile of partisan lies and misperceptions engineered by the left/media.

    But don’t worry, as dull as most Americans are they still retain an innate sense of fairness that sets them off when someone is viciously maligned.

  19. Ken says:

    But don’t worry, as dull as most Americans are they still retain an innate sense of fairness that sets them off when someone is viciously maligned.

    I can never keep track of whether Palin supporters think that the American populace is smart or dumb.

  20. mantis says:

    “Going from mayor, to Chairwoman of the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission to Governor makes @sarahpalinusa smarter than you.”

    One can assume, then, that this Palin supporter believes Barack Obama to be smarter than Sarah Palin. After all, he went from state senator, to senator, to president. FTW.

    This also means that Obama, both Bushes, Clinton, and Carter are in a five-way tie for smartest American alive. How about that?

  21. Chad S says:

    And thus begins the Palinaites with all their false equivalencies lol. Its as regular as the swallows to Capistrano lol.

  22. CB says:

    i think you guys run a really great blog here, honestly. but im on the verge of quoting the dude who always brings up the open letter to doug about palin overload. sheesh.

  23. CB says:

    But don’t worry, as dull as most Americans are they still retain an innate sense of fairness that sets them off when someone is viciously maligned.

    hahaha from the guy who will say absolutely anything to denigrate the guy in the WH. i realize youre a rabid partisan, but uh…pot meet kettle.

  24. Tlaloc says:

    SP is Ron Pual in drag. She has a small core of absolutely fanatical followrers and a small core of absolutely fanatical haters and most everyone else just doesn’t care about her.

  25. An Interested Party says:

    Well James, maybe you can explain why she scares the ____ out of you and your ilk?

    This is the most common misperception among Palin cultists…far from scaring people, she is actually more of a joke than anything else…

    She’s still there, hidden behind a pile of partisan lies and misperceptions engineered by the left/media.

    Ahh, the exquisite victimization…

  26. Neil Hudelson says:

    Ken,

    All you have to do is take the resident wingnut quotes, meld them, and you have Sarah’s true stance. So taking jwest and Zels/stoner’s quote, it means…

    That all Sarah has ever done is love the 1/3rd of America that isn’t full of meany pants, which makes her a true patriot unlike the 66% of America that’s involved in the vast media conspiracy to keep her true nature hidden from the 33% of America that already loves her.

    See? Simple.

  27. G.A.Phillips says:

    The Barack Hussein Obama II cult is much larger and just as stupid.

    I don’t think stupid even matters when it comes to Obama worshipers. Its like a trance he puts on them, that reduces all brain activity except for the ability to follow simple commands like to chant or regurgitate . You can’t be stupid if someone else controls your mind.

    There is no reason at all for anyone that can think to still support this puppet besides some Imotepish curse consummation like trance.

    Is there anything sadder then to be the puppet of a puppet?

  28. john personna says:

    Somewhat befuddled, I follow the link to an NPR interview with a historian who explains that Sarah Palin got all the facts of the Paul Revere story wrong but, in his mind, vindicates Palin because he agrees with the interviewer’s bizarre interpetation that Palin kinda-sorta got it right.

    I called it a C- answer, and asked why we didn’t expect more of Presidential hopefuls.

    A year or two ago we were calling this anti-intellectualism … and it still might be. Voters who wouldn’t want to be pressed for a B- answer themselves, will defend one of their own.

  29. mattb says:

    [Moderate Palin] is still there, hidden behind a pile of partisan lies and misperceptions engineered by the left/media.

    Really?!

    And where do you place Govenor Palin’s own words in regards to that hiding of moderateness? Take the issue of Abortion for example… beginning with her run for governor, her statements grew increasingly militant as to being anti-abortion. Something she doubled down on starting on the campaign trail.

    Her governing record demonstrates a more moderate approach — including appointing pro-life judges.

    So which are we to believe? The more moderate Governor Palin or the conservative firebrand on the campaign trail — the one people fell in love with.

    Again, this is arguably one of the main reasons for her leaving the governorship early*, You cannot successfully govern as an extremist. And, given how extreme she became on the campaign trail, she was faced with the real gap between Governor Palin and Vice-Presidential Candidate Palin. Considering that her support came from being the latter, she made a decision to stick with the persona she had created.

    So the Sarah we’ve come to know and love is very much her own creation — and increasingly has very little to do with her actual governing record. Either that, or she made a hell of a lot of Conservative Mistakes that she needs to account for (though none quite as big as Romney Care).

    * Note: like most things in life this was an “and” not and “or” decision. Yes, lawsuits/legal fees played into it, and as did sustaining a media profile — not just for the money but also to bring attention to political issues she cared about — both played some role — this is an AND not OR situation).

  30. Bleev K says:

    Is there anything sadder then to be the puppet of a puppet?

    Hum, let me think… Being you?

  31. G.A.Phillips says:

    Hum, let me think… Being you?

    lol… ya thats it, you win the lame a$$ comeback award for the day….

    Two donkey turd tablets for the headache got coming up with that and a crazy straw for your kook aid cup, so you stop hitting yourself in head when you go for another sip.

  32. To be honest though, it does seem kind of weird to see another post about Sarah Palin when there isn’t any news about Sarah Palin other than OTB writing about Sarah Palin.

  33. OzarkHillbilly (used to be tom p) says:

    JJ: don’t have time to go thru the comments this eve, but on your post?

    BEAUTIFUL!

    I haven’t laughed that hard since……

    the last time Sarah Palin opened her mouth.

  34. Scott O. says:
  35. jwest says:

    Mattb,

    I don’t remember an actual policy position concerning Sarah Palin ever being mentioned at OTB. This indeed is breaking new ground. Perhaps this is where I discover that she wouldn’t be a good president.

    As you probably know, I’m an atheist and totally pro-abortion. Being pro-abortion is different than being pro-choice, as I believe there are women who need to be strapped down against their will and permanently sterilized. This is offered just as point of reference of where I am in looking at Palin.

    From what I’ve seen and read of Palin, she was and is now unapologetically pro-life. This apparently stems from her religious beliefs and her feelings that all life is precious. Although I don’t agree with this position, I also note that as a politician, Palin (to my knowledge) has not called for outlawing abortion. As governor, she took no actions to advance anti-abortion legislation and, as you pointed out, appointed pro-choice judges including a former Planned Parenthood president to the Alaska Supreme Court, over the objections of the Alaska Family Council (a pro-life organization).

    In her VP run and later statements, I’ve not seen anything that shows her position has changed in any way. Naturally, I would be interested to look at anything that indicates she has taken a different view on this issue.

    Just imagine if discussing the actual policy positions of candidates caught on. What would the internet be like then?

  36. James Joyner says:

    @jwest: So, your position is that the only thing that matters in discussing presidential aspirants is their stated policy positions? Character, intellect, experience, demeanor, and such are irrelevant? Because the nature of political campaigns and what we know about how voters decide between candidates doesn’t point in that direction.

  37. rodney dill says:

    @Chad S.

    Now, cue the pissy responses from the usual suspects which just prove my point.

    How liberal of you to bitch about how people will dare to make pissy responses to your original pissy comment.

    (Though Moosferatu is hilarious. She can have a cage match with Obam-hotep)

  38. jwest says:

    James,

    I’ve re-read my comment twice to find the sentence that could be interpreted as saying everything is irrelevant except stated policy positions, but I can’t find it.

    Mattb seemed to be inferring that Palin’s position on abortion had changed since she left office in Alaska. I had not noticed it, but I’m open to listening to his argument. As I stated, I don’t share Palin’s pro-life position, but I don’t hold that against her if she doesn’t try to impose policy against the will of the voters.

    Character, intellect, experience and demeanor are very important factors in my choice for president. Each of these should be explored in in-depth articles, as should specific policy issues. In this instance, the abortion issue offers a chance to see not only how someone talks about it, but how they actually governed. Sometimes, there is a big difference.

  39. mattb says:

    @Jwest: From what I’ve seen and read of Palin, she was and is now unapologetically pro-life. This apparently stems from her religious beliefs and her feelings that all life is precious. Although I don’t agree with this position, I also note that as a politician, Palin (to my knowledge) has not called for outlawing abortion. As governor, she took no actions to advance anti-abortion legislation and, as you pointed out, appointed pro-choice judges including a former Planned Parenthood president to the Alaska Supreme Court, over the objections of the Alaska Family Council (a pro-life organization).

    Correct. Here’s the kicker — how much support would she continue to have from her base if she had continued to be this moderate after gaining national attention as being “unapologetically pro-life.”

    That’s the issue here… either you have to argue that she believes one way and governs another or you have to go with “I take her on her word.” She has stated repeatedly on the campaign trail that she would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned. That’s exactly the sort of identify politics that cause people to say “she shares my views.”

    After getting that exposure and being forced to govern/compromise she is faced with the choice of what to do with approving a “pro-choice” judge. If you are following the rhetorical Sarah, there’s no way she would do that — it would be a violation of the principles she has loudly espoused on the campaign trail. If she does approve that position, that’s compromise — and that’s weak in the eyes of her followers.

    BTW, here’s a collection of issues that anti-abortion and Christian groups *could* have with Palin — you’ll note that she’s done a lot of work to close most of these holes rhetorically:
    http://prolifeprofiles.com/palin

    The extreme Sarah is her own creation. And she’s done a lot to actually distance herself from her moderate record. Pretending that isn’t the case or that it’s “all the media’s” fault is plain BS.

    Sidenote: I should note that when it came to appointing that judge, Palin didn’t accept responsibility for the choice and blamed the process for forcing her to pick between the lesser of two evils.

  40. mattb says:

    @Jwest

    Character, intellect, experience and demeanor are very important factors in my choice for president. Each of these should be explored in in-depth articles, as should specific policy issues. In this instance, the abortion issue offers a chance to see not only how someone talks about it, but how they actually governed.

    I largely agree, but the thing is that this was already done in 2008 with Palin (if not here, elsewhere). Because of her leaving office, her governing record is pretty much the same it was in 2008. The rhetoric has continued on the same trajectory.

    So she can continue to say she’s entirely pro-life and wants to see Roe overturned. Old
    “mistakes and misteps” are blamed on the system and not her (see: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=55469398434 ).

    We know that while she was verbally against government bailouts and handouts, she presided over huge amounts of federal money and pork projects coming into Alaska. Here’s an example from just after the election in 2009, prior to Palin leaving office:
    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/stimulus-divides-2012-gop-contenders/ &
    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/sarah-and-the-giant-stimulus/

    This is exactly the reason I was pointing to earlier in terms of having the choose between being a Governor and being a Candidate/Pundit — the Governor attempted to act in the best interests of her state:

    In the “give me my pork” camp are governors Sarah Palin, Charlie Crist, and Tim Pawlenty. Palin, darling of many “movement” conservatives came all the way to Washington to lobby for the bill. Crist worked the phones, unsuccessfully trying to convince Republican House members from Florida to support the bill. Pawlenty admits some concern over the bill’s impact on the federal deficit, but says, governors “are entitled to ask for our share of the money.”

    Not being a governor meant not having to care about the interests of your state and getting caught up in these messy situations where your actions diverge from your rhetoric.

  41. jwest says:

    Mattb,

    I think you are making a mistake by taking the characterization of the left as someone being pro-life means they must adhere to every extreme position of other pro-lifers.

    Just as I don’t assume you are ardently for late term abortions, no one should take the position that Palin echoes every aspect of those who are more pro-life than she is. This is why we look at her past and current statements along with her record.

    Now that you’ve had a chance to analyze her past decisions when in power, do you believe she is a radical who would change the status quo on abortion?

    Concerning the stimulus money, it appears clear that she opposed the bill as a whole, wishing that the federal government wouldn’t spend the money, but, failing that, that Alaska receive a proportionate share if it went through. What’s wrong with that?

  42. Troke6 says:

    Hmmm! The Word on the Street was that SP bailed out of Alaska when 27 ethics complaints put her personal wealth $600,000 in the hole and the public wealth over $2,000,000. 26 of the complaints were thrown out, and I think she got nailed on the 27the over a fund to pay off the $600,000. Assuming the foregoing is reasonably accurate, seeing the writing on the wall (no cost to make the complaint, lots of cost to beat it off) she bailed and has been cursed since.

  43. mattb says:

    @Jwest: I think you pmatb[ are making a mistake by taking the characterization of the left as someone being pro-life means they must adhere to every extreme position of other pro-lifers.

    That’s not my position. It’s Palin’s base. And the general talk radio base. Hence a site like the one I just linked to:
    http://prolifeprofiles.com/palin

    That isn’t a sham liberal site. And I grant you its extremist, but its a “true believer” site.

    no one should take the position that Palin echoes every aspect of those who are more pro-life than she is.

    But that’s the point, if you listen to supporters of hers — both here and on the radio (and yes, as part of my job I listen to a lot of Right Wing Radio — and Left Wing). They, people who say they are voting for her, do think she is going to take that position. And she isn’t doing a lot to disuade them. In their words (heard today expressed by Vinny on the Limbaugh program): “She is the truest conservative of those who have said they are going to run.”

    do you believe she is a radical who would change the status quo on abortion?

    I don’t know. Quite frankly, one might argue that… contra other views… she’s practically Clintonesque in her explanations. Personally, I think if she thought she could, she would. And that’s based on what she’s said. As far as her actions, I’d feel more comfortable judging them if she had actually continued to govern AFTER coming to the national stage.

    —–
    Note: Before this turns into a “well I’m sure you thought Obama was the second coming of liberalism” — let me note, and you can do some searches on OTB to see this — I’ve always argued that his legislative record (and to a lesser degree his rhetorical record) has always been slightly left of center and largely moderate.
    —-

    Back to Palin, all of this is an example of people caring about what she is saying, not her record. And show me where she’s done anything to step away from that position…

    Concerning the stimulus money, it appears clear that she opposed the bill as a whole, wishing that the federal government wouldn’t spend the money, but, failing that, that Alaska receive a proportionate share if it went through. What’s wrong with that?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t a bunch of republican governors just flat out turn it down? So what’s more important to being a good conservative? Pragmatism (a step towards being a moderate?) or staying true to the cause (what she has expressed in her rhetoric).

    She didn’t take that position. And on some level, I think it’s because she wants to govern versus demagogue. At least when she was in the position of Governor. Of course, once she left that position she could say whatever crap she wanted to without actually having to back it up.

    Of course, she’d just say, it’s not her fault she’s taking the money. It was there and the circumstances forced her to… Just like that mean Katie Couric forced her to answer those “gotcha” questions… or that person a few weeks ago who’s shout out “gotcha” question of “So why are you here” lead to that word soup regarding Revere.

    God, and I thought Liberals were always supposed to be the victims.

  44. mattb says:

    @Troke6:

    Already address that in my post. I do think that played a partial reason. But things are more complex than *just* this or that. So thanks for playing “how else can we marytr Palin”… btw, note that this is exactly what the other side is doing with Obama. I’m guessing you probably object to that move.

    Again, everyone plays identity politics at some level.

  45. jukeboxgrad says:

    Troke:

    The Word on the Street was that SP bailed out of Alaska when 27 ethics complaints put her personal wealth $600,000 in the hole and the public wealth over $2,000,000. 26 of the complaints were thrown out, and I think she got nailed on the 27the over a fund to pay off the $600,000. Assuming the foregoing is reasonably accurate

    That phrase (“assuming the foregoing is reasonably accurate”) is doing an awful lot of work. Her claims about the cost to the state are greatly exaggerated. And as far as I know, no one has seen any evidence to support her claims about what she spent herself. An unsubstantiated claim by Sarah Palin is worthless.