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Practical responses

Palin vs Arnie

An infuriated reader writes: ((Thanks to sw. Readers’ letters may be edited for length and/or comic-but-potentially-libellous obscenity.))

I was reading [this] and getting infuriated for so many different reasons — not the least of which is that Palin gets almost daily coverage of her Facebook comments in the press.

And now, thanks to infuriated reader, Sarah Palin is getting coverage of her Facebook comments on In your face, news priorities! Anyway, infuriated reader continues:

Amongst the many phrases that disturbed me, I particularly enjoyed this passage:

“While I and all Alaskans witness the impacts of changes in weather patterns firsthand, I have repeatedly said that we can’t primarily blame man’s activities for those changes,” she wrote. “And while I did look for practical responses to those changes, what I didn’t do was hamstring Alaska’s job creators with burdensome regulations so that I could act ‘greener than thou’ when talking to reporters.”

It is extraordinary for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that there is a rhetorical switch from the description of a purported communal experience to a self-quotation that seeks to imply a factual basis for that experience through self-quotation, in which her “I have repeatedly said” suddenly becomes almost God-like in its insistence that what she says is therefore the actual fact. It is as if she wrote, “While I and all Alaskans have weathered many storms, I have repeatedly said that snow is just a form of water.” I think it would be tempting to consider, however, two snippets of unspeak: “practical responses” and “job creators”. Any thoughts?

Thank you, infuriated reader of! Well, yes: 1) I am pretty sure Palin has never referred to “job destroyers” when Alaskan companies are firing people; and 2) “practical responses” evidently unspeaks reduction of CO2 emissions as outwith the realm of the practical. (This is a perfect example of the normal use of practical in political speech, where it is shorthand for “what I am prepared to do, for reasons that have nothing to do with an honest comparison of the practicability of various alternatives”.)

I note that Palin also wrote: “Perhaps he [Arnold Schwarzenegger] will recall that I live in our nation’s only Arctic state”, apparently arguing that, because she lives in a place closer to one of the poles, Palin therefore knows more about global warming than does the governator. By that logic, penguins ought to know more about global warming than Sarah Palin. (And actually, they really do?)

I note further that Palin wrote:

Climate change is like gravity – a naturally occurring phenomenon that existed long before, and will exist long after, any governmental attempts to affect it.

An imaginary scientist ripostes: “Nuclear fusion is also a naturally occurring phenomenon that existed long before, and will exist long after, any governmental attempts to affect it. But we can also make it happen in ways that are quite dangerous to us.”

Finally, my eye kept returning to the headline given to the newsy announcement of exciting-news-from-Sarah-Palin’s-Facebook-page, which reads: “Palin Fires Back At Schwarzenegger”. It’s as though she has never seen Commando or Raw Deal. Dude, there really is no point firing back at Schwarzenegger? He will kill you just the same!

  1. 1  Dave Weeden  December 18, 2009, 12:34 pm 

    Actually, the state most likely to suffer from Global Warming is poor hurricane lashed Florida. Palin has framed the choices as being between north and south (or polar and equatorial, for all the difference that makes), when it’s really east/west.

    Also, surely ‘practical responses’ is just a stupid tautology.

  2. 2  sw  December 18, 2009, 2:05 pm 

    ‘Practical responses’ suggests that anything other than pro-business, corporatist responses are ‘impractical’ – and goes to the heart of the modern debate over what to do: is it ‘practical’ to impose costs on industries and subsequently strike a blow to the economy when global warming is only a theory, or is it ‘practical’ not to do anything that might have short-term economics consequences while we destroy our planet? So, in fact, this appropriates the ‘practical’ and answers a question. Plus, ‘practical responses’ not only unspeaks alternatives as necessarily impractical but, as a modification of ‘response’, suggests that those who have other sorts of responses are hysterical, frenzied, or otherwise caught up in emotional responses. In this way, Palin is being macho, masculine, problem-solving, and Schwarzenegger is being cast as a shrill little girly man flapping his hands and wailing.

    So, no, it’s not just a stupid tautology.

    In the Celebrity-turned-politician vs Politician-turned-celebrity cage match, I’d be very leery of placing my money on Arnie . . .

  3. 3  We Are Symbionese, If You Please  December 18, 2009, 5:27 pm 

    “You arr a preety laydee…I vill keel you laast”

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