Sarah Palin And The Hand Jive

Holy crap, it’s been three days and people are still blogging about Sarah Palin writing notes to herself on her hand while speaking at the Tea Party convention in Nashville on Friday.  Seriously.  How is that different than if she had used a teleprompter or index cards?  Anyone who’s had to do public speaking for longer than five minutes at a stretch knows how easy it is to forget even very basic things.  So she used a few notes, and chose a rather juvenile method to write them down.  So what? 

No other politician in America would have received such vicious scrutiny and content-free criticism.

I say, criticize what she said, not the notes she used to remind herself to say it.  What did she say that’s worthy of criticism? 

After spending ten minutes justly criticizing the Administration for the bank bailout and the stimulus package, she then advocated tax cuts without advocating a scaleback in government services.  That’s bad for the national debt.  (“Washington has got to across the board, lower taxes for small businesses so that our mom and pops can reinvest and hire people so that our businesses can thrive.”)

She complained that Abdul Mutallab (the Amsterdam “Christmas bomber”) got a lawyer and was read his Miranda rights, suggesting that basic and fundamental components of due process are somehow bad.  (“The protections provided—thanks to you sir [PALIN ADDRESSES MALE VETERAN IN AUDIENCE]—we’re going to bestow them on a terrorist who hates our Constitution and wants to destroy our Constitution and our country? This makes no sense because we have a choice in how we’re going to deal with the terrorists. We don’t have to go down that road. There are questions that we would have like answered before he lawyered up.”)

She mocked the idea that the President ought to be respectful of the Constitution.  (“Treating this like a mere law enforcement matter places our country at grave risk. Because that’s not how radical Islamic extremists are looking at this. They know we’re at war. And to win that war, we need a commander-in-chief, not a PROFESSOR OF LAW STANDING AT THE LECTERN!”)

She was dismissive of the possibilities of diplomacy to resolve international conflicts.  (“…we must spend less time courting our adversaries and spending more more time working with our allies. And we must build effective coalitions capable of confronting dangerous regimes like Iran and North Korea. It’s time for more than just tough talk. Ah! Just like you . . . probably just so tired of hearing the talk talk talk . . . Tired of hearing the talk!”)

All of these suggest that she has not thought through her ideas for governing the country.  All of this suggests that were she put in power, she would take the country down a dangerous path which we will later regret taking.  And none of it has anything to do with a few scribbled notes on her hand.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. TL: As I pointed out in response to your comment at the League, the problem I have isn't so much that she used her hand for notetaking, which, although weird, is not terribly noteworthy, as it is that she created the notes in preparation for the Q&A after her speech. This means that she insisted on pre-screening the questions beforehand, even in a friendly forum. The implication, supported by her performance in the Couric interview, is that she is incapable of responding knowledgeable to even modestly tough questions.

  2. Mark, as usual, you are operating at a level more subtle and nuanced than most of the rest of the blogosphere. My point about criticizing what Palin said rather than her use of notes to say it was addressed to those who think that her writing notes on her own palm is, by itself, evidence that Palin is an intellectual lightweight. This is not your point at all.

  3. Thanks, TL. I appreciate that, though to be perfectly honest, the way I attempted to make my point was far from nuanced. It seems I ought to avoid the temptation to be pithy and brief, as I'm not terribly good at it.

  4. "Palin is an intellectual lightweight."Wasn't it your dad who said Ronald Reagan was a lightweight

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