Thursday, 2 October 2008


Imagine you're a teacher and you ask a student whether she believes climate change is a man-made problem. And this is the answer you get:

You know there are - there are man's activities that can be contributed to the issues that we're dealing with now, these impacts. I'm not going to solely blame all of man's activities on changes in climate. Because the world's weather patterns are cyclical. And over history we have seen change there. But kind of doesn't matter at this point, as we debate what caused it. The point is: it's real; we need to do something about it.

If you were teaching a science class, you might question the student's grasp of the facts. If you were teaching debating skills, you'd probably worry about her ability to construct an argument: surely a person's beliefs about the causes of climate change will determine what they think ought to be done about it?

And if you were this student's English teacher, you'd certainly challenge her ability to put together a meaningful sentence: 'man's activities that can be contributed to'? 'blame all of man's activities on changes in climate'? Did she really mean to say that climate change is responsible for human actions, rather than vice versa?

The worrying thing is, the person who gave this garbled and illogical answer is no school student, but a candidate for the vice-presidency of the world's most powerful country. OK, so she may have got flustered in the heat of the interview, but shouldn't candidates for high office be able to give meaningful answers to questions from relatively mild interviewers such as Katie Couric?

After 8 years of Bushisms, who would've thought the Republicans would put up a candidate who makes W. seem articulate? Or is it 'elitist' to expect political leaders to have a basic grasp of the English language? Most members of Congress, or local state legislatures - most people you know - could have given better answers than Palin to Couric's questions about the environment, the economy, or the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, as the hour of the VP debate draws near, here's a strategy that hadn't occurred to me: get your surrogates to cast last-minute doubts on the impartiality of the moderator.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm Palingual and still don't understand what she's saying.

Nice coinage, by the way.