Reading Sarah Palin

[1] Who can best bust through that radical left’s kind of dispensation and desire to mistreat those who are defenseless, mistreat those who perhaps have some disadvantages by making them more beholden to government? [2] Who best can contrast themselves from that? [3] I thought who best could do that [and] [4] my own personal opinion is, the cheerful one, is Newt Gingrich.

Few even among Governor Palin’s followership will note or long remember “best bust through,” prosody that transports the attentive listener to ages before the printed word.  Most of us will instead proceed quickly to the next clause whose uncertainties are announced by, and lie on the other side of, the phrase “kind of” – the kind of breathless breath that a certain kind of speaker takes before launching into something truly breathtaking.

Governor Palin seems to believe that the “radical left” is running the world or at least the United States of America.

“Dispensation” is from the Latin “dispensatio,” which functioned especially for early Christian theologians as a translation of the Greek oikonomia – “economy” in the sense of “providential government,” and not, or not yet, in the secular sense that Americanism re-sacralizes both in the openly theocratic, or perhaps thearchic, ideology of the contemporary Christianist right as well as in the economism of mainstream social liberalism.

As we will be able to evidence further in just a moment, Palin may have meant or have been about to say “disposition,” but the similar-sounding “dispensation,” aside from being impressively esoteric, speaks to an underlying, quasi-Gnostic notion that the world, even as it operates under the beneficent providential governance of God, is at the same time ruled by a satanic or quasi-satanic demiurge.  (Christian theological and post-theological history is the successful failure to resolve this contradiction – now understood, if by no one, neither Sarah Palin nor her critics, as constitutive for all systems, including cosmological systems.)

that radical left’s kind of dispensation and desire to mistreat those who are defenseless

“Desire” in part merely recovers and recuperates “disposition” from “dispensation,” but it also demonstrates the born ideologue’s ability to boggle multiple aggressively self-justifying pre-suppositions into a single phrase.  What makes the dispensation truly evil, satanically evil, is that it represents a supremely malevolent “desire”:  The “radical left” consciously and therefore culpably aims to harm people who are entirely unprepared to resist – the poor, the weak, the insulted and injured…  It attacks the childlike, the innocent, and the “disadvantaged,” by “making them more beholden to government” – that is, by seeking to capture their souls, adding moral enslavement to mere bodily suffering.

[2.1] Who [2.2] best [2.3] can [2.4] contrast [2.5] themselves [2.6] from [2.7] that?

In seven words, this question encapsulates several main ingredients of the infamous “word salad” – especially its singular condensification of ingredients.  This time, the adverbial “best”(2.2) ends up one word over from where native speakers of English would automatically place it, where Palin herself placed it in sentence 1.  The force of the superlative is thus re-distributed partly to the pronoun “who” and mainly to the auxiliary verb “can” (2.3), rather than to the likelier grammatical object, the main verb “contrast” (2.4). For Palin, it’s not  a question of “who can do the best contrasting,” but “who possseses the best ability to contrast,” “who possesses it the most,” “who possesses it in the best way,” “who best embodies it innately.”

Though Palin’s deployment of the plural reflexive pronoun “themselves” at 2.5 has lately been making a bid for standard usage over the modern era “himself,” the early post-modern/affirmative action “herself,” and the politically-grammatically correct but uneconomical “him- or herself” or even “him-/herself,” we can still note that in this instance the antecedent for “who” would presumably have been one of four men, including Mitt the Resolute, Ron the Consistent, and Rick the “Uh-courageous,” as well as the man she ended up choosing, Newt the Cheerful, as the one who best can.  Since the larger statement comes on the high heels of Palin’s confirmation to CNN of her availability to a contested Republican convention, some listeners will hear a different antecedent, one that  “themselves” smoothly collects.

The sixth word of the sentence, “from,” qualifies as a Palinism within a Palinism so Palinistically Palinish as to justify extended consideration.

The actress Julianne Moore reported, in her Daily Show interview with Jon Stewart, that her extensive studies of Palin’s speech patterns confirmed an unusual emphasis on prepositions, possibly originating in Palin’s Idaho roots and linguistic heritage via her father.

Now, hardly anyone, if anyone at all, would claim that Idaho is any sense less real-American than any other place really in America.  Some may even consider Palin’s Idaho to be more real-American than many other formally American places.  All the same, this substitution of “from” for the expected “with” is the kind of locution whose dissonance clangs against the expectations of any native speaker of American English. Yet the Palin “contrast from,” as opposed to the modern English “contrast with,” indisputably constitutes semantic value-added:  Merely to contrast with something is passive, static.  White automatically contrasts with black, male with female, fullness with emptiness, and so on.  To contrast from something would be to divide or break away, as though propelled and free at last.  Palin’s “from” is an energetic vector, a dynamism, not a mere state of things – especially not a state of things so evil that a real American would instantly recoil from maintaining any kind of “with”-ness in relation to it.

We can now envision real American-ness, or super-real or surreal-American-ness, as best embodied in the Mosaic “who,” leading the children of neo-Israel away from the “that” of the radical left/Egyptian dispensation/captivity into the desert of Republican primary revelation, in the direction of the Promised Land – a new Promised Land, the prophetic America that for a true conservative is always both behind us and, if we have grace to use it so, ahead of us.

After a short pause to marvel at the felicity with which the “that” at 2.7 concentrates and consolidates the all-encompassing complexities of the preceding thoughts on the satanico-radical left, we can turn to the final sentence (3), which reprises the “best can” construction, but now in the form of testimony turning on another helpful “that”:

I thought who best could do that

Palin’s unquestioning question captures the way that a question one poses to oneself summons forth and reveals, because it pre-supposes and in so doing constitutes, an assertion of self.  On one level, “I thought who best could do that” translates as “I asked myself, ‘Who would be most able or best-qualified to free us from satanic radical leftism?'” but “I thought who best could do that” buries such questioning deep enough so that only the disturbed verbal earth above it can be detected.  “I thought who best could do that” therefore suggests active conception: if not quite to the effect that Palin believes in her own ability to conjure the redeemer, the one who best can, from the void, then at least removing any suggestion of doubt or hesitation on the way to the salvific answer.

In the transcript at or just before our final sentence, 4, Palinists will, with some justification, detect the work of some lamestream media under-demon, the veritable outlines of a fiendish claw.  Why exactly do we need to interpolate an “and” between”I thought who best could do that” and that final, cheerful independent clause, a natural sentence, if not necessarily a natural-sounding or well-formed one?

No good reason at all – unless it’s your dispensation and desire to mistreat the defenseless and perhaps disadvantaged. If so, then you may also miss the humility of “my own personal opinion,” and fail to credit the playfully winking, slyly knowing sarcasm of “the cheerful one,” a phrase Palin repeated later, and, for all I know, has been repeating for days.  The interpolation between repeated “is”‘s emphasizes her purposefulness.  She is seemingly quite fully aware of how thoroughly she is diminishing the man who applied it to himself, and for whom she happened to vote, without really endorsing.

11 comments on “Reading Sarah Palin

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  1. In my Catholic upbringing “Dispenstion”was a tempory suspension of the usual rules. So during lent, one might obtain a dispensation to be able to eat meat for, say someone’s 60th birthday. Or, in the interest of a just or good outcome, a relaxation of the rules in obtaining a marraige annulment.

    So my reading of an intentional use of the word here is that SP is asserting that the left has benefitted from a relaxing of the (natural) rules and it is time to be uniform in their enforcement.

    I like this interpetation partly because of the “kind of” which might acknowledge that the use is somewhat metaphoric.

    • interesting how, over a couple of thousand years, a word like dispensation can go from “the working of the rules” to “suspension of the rules” – though I think the original sense is still the more common one, and the type of dispensation you refer to is an expressly “lawful” exception to the “law,” the kind of exception that is a specialty of my new special virtual friend Giorgio Agamben. Another good/central, but very complicated example is the category of the “sacred.” When today we refer to the “sacredness of life,” we want to suggest that it should be protected from harm. Originally, “sacred” might mean destined for “sacrifice,” so duly protected up to the moment it (often a living being) is consigned to the gods (killed). Jesus Christ embodies the contradiction perfectly: You might even say thgat he becomes sacred historically by being killed, just like many martyrs. Originally, to make things even more confusing, the Homo Sacer (sacred man) was the man who could not be sacrificed, but COULD be killed (without punishment) – typically an individual to be banished, who, if found after such and such a time within such and such territory, could be killed, and had to be denied any kind of succor. Just to wrap up the point: Agamben believes that the story of modernity is the story of us all becoming “Homo Sacer.”

  2. Of course, you know I can’t help but shower you with praise here. You are the who who can bust through like William Safire. I just love this post.

    • Ain’t got no crew unless it’s the (psuedo-)dudes including yourself just under my name, so high above. Don’t have enough spare “k”‘s right now to be sorting out a konflict over konstitutional theory between the likes of Kos and Karl.

      • Since you have put so much time into trying to help Miggs think more clearly, I’ll make the obvious point:
        Miggs, there is a difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The person who wrote that rebuttal takes what Moulitsas asks (show me where God is referenced in the Constitution) and shows him where God is referenced in another document. And if you want to condemn someone for “show(ing) hatred to fmr. US servicemen,” you’re barking at the wrong guy. Moulitsas is way too conciliatory. He was a military guy himself for Christsakes. Maybe that’s what bothers you. He knows of what he speaks? I don’t think so, but you must. He took way too long in figuring it all out for my tastes, but come on. You’re showing disrespect for a fmr US serviceman. Of course, I’m all for that. Oh, “I’m all for that.” That’s kind of Palin like. My ancestors are from the midwest. Can you tell? And one more thing:
        CK’s post is so not mean-spirited. I think there’s actually some love for Palin being expressed. If I recall correctly, CK has admitted to thinking she’s hot.

        • I’m wondering if Idaho is more West than Upper Midwest so may just take out that reference, even though I think the locution is kinda Eastern Idaho similar to Minnesota than Oregonian or Washingtonian or something. So a MidWestern-influenced West…

          I must once again firmly protest the notion that I at any time found Palin “hot.” I judged her as a superior physical specimen, but not my type, though the glasses helped. At one time I sympathized with her, and I struggled to give her every chance, but sexual attraction had nothing to do with it unless on some buried, very broad, Oedipal level. I think that even when I counted myself a supporter and acted as a defender, I avoided idolizing her – physically, mentally, or physically-mentally – except maybe once in a while for the fun of it.

  3. Well I’m not going to deny that she is attractive, that would be like denying that water is wet, although you’ve probably come up with a theorem for that two, but I knew of her, when she was a relatively unknown reformist governor, profiled by William Dyer, with an 80% popularity rating, not before she was depicted into some half harpy/half zombie, which seems to be drawn
    from Julianne Moore’s more eventful soirees,

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