Stupid Genius, or the Anatomy of a Brain Fart


Liberals think Sarah Palin is nauseatingly when not hilariously stupid.  Conservatives have convinced themselves that she’s stupid like a genius.  I think the liberals are obviously right at least in terms of conventional standards of verbal intelligence, but that doesn’t mean that Sarah Palin isn’t talented and shrewd.  Her problem is that she suffers from a chronic case of cerebral flatulence, some combination of organic mis-wiring and a determination to be something she absolutely isn’t – articulate. 

Because liberals know she’s nauseatingly when not hilariously stupid, they tend to assume she actually means some of the stinky noises that erupt from her major orifice, when actually the jumbles have little meaning at all except as evidence of disconnection between her imagination and her verbal apparatus.  Because conservatives know that liberals are the ones who are nauseatingly when not hilariously stupid, and that Sarah Palin is stupid like one of the greatest political geniuses of all time, there is no hermeneutic they’ll leave un-applied in the effort to make sweet-smelling sense of whatever loud stench that emanates from her. What they hear is what they desperately want to hear from someone, and what they are happy to hear over and over again, as many times as you care to repeat it for them. That liberals hear something different, and react negatively, merely confirms that what conservatives hear, or say they hear, or eventually convince themselves they’ve heard, is the authentic sound.

Here’s the one that she cut the other day, from the above video, as transcribed by evil lamestream media sniffers:

He who warned, uh, the … the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringin’ those bells and, um, by makin’ sure that as he’s ridin’ his horse through town to send those warnin’ shots and bells that, uh, we were gonna be secure and we were gonna be free … and we were gonna be armed.

Some conservatives will be offended by the “uh”‘s:  They think that other everyday geniuses get their uhs removed by kindly editors, but the excuse is that when someone’s words are going to be excruciatingly parsed, we need the uhs and ums, just in case one of them clues us to something implied or intended that makes sense of the nonsense.  I think the problem with the transcript is that it misses the point where Palin, in her usual way, lost her own thread, and then, like a jazz saxophonist deciding to work the wrong note into the solo, struggles through the changes.  The gun-rights, freedom bar is her “tonal.”  It brings her back to rightwing Earth, even as it reminds her supporters why they should want to cooperate in her musical-rhetorical recovery.

Palin works by agglomeration approximated to a logic, rather than by logic outward. There’s something she wants to say, and what she actually says is like a rough assemblage of bits and swatches, which, when pinned to her mental mannequin, looks to her and her followers enough like clothing to be presentable. Even they might admit that it’s less than a splendid ensemble – that supermodels like Reagan or Buckley would never have gone out in it – but they’d rather have their homespun than the best liberal cocktail dress… so THERE!

He who warned, uh, the … the British

I think she wanted to say something like “He who shouted ‘The British are coming!'” But maybe it occurred to her that the quote might not be exact, might really come from a poem, and might sound inappropriately hostile to our friends the British… So she quickly modulated – covered, vamped – instantly converting what was going to be a quote into a statement. Conservatives have struggled mightily to turn the resultant rather twisted locution into some semblance of historical insight, even attempting to re-write the Wikipedia entry on Revere to conform retroactively to Palin’s rendition, while suggesting that Palin was really referring to an incident in which Revere, briefly captured, delivered a defiant message to the Brits. (My personal view is that this interpretation is laughable – as if Palin, in these brief comments, was trying to lay some deep historical lurnin on us.)

The rest of the statement gradually shifts the counterproductive emphasis away from the Brits toward Real Tea Party Americans who, in Palin reality, then as now, love their guns and stand ready to defend Real Tea Party America against all comers. She is justifiably confident that her supporters will respond positively to what she and they recognize as her real, intended message: We’re great, we’ve always been great, and it’s the people who don’t get that that have problems.


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7 comments on “Stupid Genius, or the Anatomy of a Brain Fart

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  1. Just as P has her supporters who stand ready to defend her, you have me. My least favorite criticism about things like what you’ve written here is that the writer or speaker is somehow “thinking too much” about something of little consequence. I couldn’t disagree more, especially in your case and especially in this case. It’s wonderful how you explain what happens with P. I would swear on a stack of Bhagavad Gitas that it’s right on, and I think I’m in a position to judge because I do some of what you describe myself. When I’m teaching yoga things like this happen. The difference is that, like a good little Ram Das Tom Robbins lovin’ ADD hippie, I cop to it. I tell people–ooh, for some reason I just said a bunch of shit there. Sorry. But it was funny wasn’t it?
    Also, during this time of year, I think it’s important to note that Sarah could shoot free-throws in the clutch. I once saw a video of her sinking two to win a game.

  2. Something else that CK might want to put his mind around if he hasn’t already is the issue of authenticity. An English professor friend of mine who published a book on post-modern literary perspectives brought it up at lunch today, saying something like, “It’s interesting how Palin is seen as authentic even though she’s aware of herself as a kind of icon and has to falsely manage that image.” Of course, she’s not the first to be like that but she has to be one of, if not the strangest expression of the phenomenon. My friend writes fiction as well so we constructed a visual of an alternative world Disneyland Lincoln robot. It would have Palin shooting a moose and rewriting history while all the people looking at the exhibit believe in its authenticity.

  3. @ Scott Miller:
    Maybe Don Miguel, if he still consider himself a Palin-fan, can tell us, but it’s my impression, based on my own relatively extended period of Palin-supporterness (more like support -> probationary defense -> skepticism -> opposition -> strong opposition), I think her supporters view her first and foremost as on their side, trustworthy as far as making the right choices or, at worst, choosing from among the better choices in a multiple choice field. Beyond that, I think they see her as refusing to back down or play by her enemies’ unfair rules. All in all, in their view, she was authentically trying to do her best by her own lights, as a reasonable open-minded conservative, and is still authentically that, but has necessarily had to respond to her environment, and has perhaps become more ideologically conservative as she has realized that it’s the authentically true source of truly authentically true authenticity.

  4. Yes, that’s essentially right, now Mitt dots all the right tees, but as Newsweek pointed out, they think of him as just a Mormon, probably
    ready to reenact the Mountain Meadow massacre,

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