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Political Language Poet or Pull-String Puppet: You Decide - De File
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cbertsch
cbertsch
Political Language Poet or Pull-String Puppet: You Decide
As I've written here before on several occasions -- I even wrote in defense of our current President -- the transcription of speech provides a lot of room for maneuvering. Interviewers can give their subjects the benefit of the doubt. They can fill in the gaps in syntax that even the most fluent speakers are bound to leave in the course of ordinary conversation. They can eliminate the utterances, such as "um" or "like," that serve a function in oral communication but appear pointless on the page. And they can prune away the inevitable redundancies that occur when a person seeks to answer a question thoroughly. Or they can opt, instead, for as faithful transcription of their recording as possible. The latter move is one that all but the most perverse individuals would eschew unless they wanted to make someone look bad. I do believe that George W. Bush has been the victim, as his popularity has plummeted downward, of this sort of professionally justifiable dedication to accuracy.

With Sarah Palin, though, I'm not even sure that it would be possible for a sympathetic transcription to be made without abandoning the record of her speech altogether. Consider this excerpt from her moose-in-the-headlights interview with CBS News's Katie Couric:
COURIC: Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.
I have edited some very messy prose over the years. But despite my experience, I lack what it takes to turn Palin's response here into anything that resembles grammatically and syntactically acceptable English.

I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon and say that Palin is mentally incapable of taking a national leadership role. She speaks clearly enough about the subjects she knows, though from an ideological perspective that I disagree with entirely. However, despite the best efforts of the McCain campaign to educate her in the art of responding to interviews, she clearly has not learned to reconcile the talking points which they are insisting she repeat over and over and her own command of the English language. And that does not bode well for her, should she find herself suddenly in charge of the United States. Needless to say, I'm hoping that she goes back to Alaska where she is not out of her element.

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Comments
flw From: flw Date: September 29th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Her speech is entirely consistent with what I have been persistently ranting about on my lj (or in my head thinking I was posting on lj). In the Authoritarian worldview, the purpose of communication is to establish rank. So, the content is immaterial. The "truth" she is speaking is that she is "on top" and "in charge". The actual content is beside the point. The people she is speaking to understand what she is saying.

They are like animal grunts. It's the timbre that matters, not the "words".
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 1st, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I am inclined to agree. Shoot, one could say the same thing about Obama. The fact of the matter, though, is that he speaks in complete sentences even if he doesn't need to do so.
flw From: flw Date: October 1st, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
He does have a grip on the whole "noun-verb" thing. Palin has a "words are weapons" approach. Do you see how "assertive" she gets when someone is asking her a question she doesn't know the answer to... like, "Name a newspaper that you've read?" She gets all short and chopped and reveals that psychotic non-genuine smile. Then she does this thing where she simultaneously plays the victim and the aggressor. She has a smile on her face the whole time. She looks like a cross between a kid burning ants and a Korean POW denouncing the Imperialist US. All SMILES!

But the words are weapons mindset persists throughout. She is a "man of action", which is the same as being a "man of few words". She ACTS. Shoot a wolf from a helicopter skid? How 'bout let's shoot 120 wolves from a helicopter skid! She definitely knows what it means to "clear brush". She is a brush clearer. People who "act" on the world consider speechifying to be another action. That's why they say things like, "I ain't too good with words..." They think words are another tool with which they can act ON the world.

So they learn to use this tool the same way they learn to use other tools, by ACTING (not method acting, but rather brush clearing ACTING). So she's trying out every tool. When you're clearing brush, it doesn't matter much what order you use the tools in. There's no "syntax" when you're shooting caribou from inside a fur-lined Humvee. So the same goes for "speechifying".
From: ex_benlinus Date: September 29th, 2008 03:18 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I wish I could be as even-handed. I'm such a partisan, I openly laughed when I saw that interview.
But then I kinda got scared, because I have heard the conversations about Palin between 104.1 listeners at the warehouse, and they all somehow find ways to defend her.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 1st, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Because they are either fools or assholes who want fools to manipulate. Seriously. The woman may sound smart talking about butchering moose or watching hockey, but she knows less about the world than my nine-year-old daughter.
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