Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sarah Palin to Barbara Walters: ‘I’m a big-time reader, Barbara. Want to know what I read? Go ahead, ask me!’

By Nicholas Stix

Evidently, Sarah Palin has not only not gotten over the trauma of her disastrous ‘I read stuff’ 2008 interview with CBS/DNC functionary Katie Couric, but she and her handlers have devised a strategy, whereby she overcompensates by trying to impress interviewers with her erudition.

I'm reading the best book right now--Dean Karnazes's book about being an ultra-marathoner. I read a lot of C.S. Lewis when I want some divine inspiration ... I read Newsmax and The Wall Street Journal. I read all of our local papers of course in Alaska because that's where my heart is.

[“Sarah Palin's Reading List: C.S. Lewis, Dean Karnazes, Newsmax, Wall Street Journal;
Palin Tells Barbara Walters the Accusation She's Uninformed Is 'Ridiculous,'”
by Lauren Sher, ABC News, December 9, 2010.]


Couric to Palin: What Do You Read? September 30, 2008


Palin to Couric on Foreign Policy: In My World, Those are the Good Guys


The 2008 exchange with Couric about Palin’s reading habits revealed not so much Palin’s intellectual inadequacies as her social insecurities. When Couric asked Palin what she read, and the latter seemed lost, that was an expression of the social intimidation she felt. Buying into the media’s own city slicker/country bumpkin myth, Palin mistakenly saw Couric as culturally superior to her, and fumbled the exchange.

If you look at Couric’s interview on Palin on foreign affairs, you see a much more confident Palin who, I find, acquitted herself quite well. Couric, who was apparently hostile to Israel, sought to portray Palin as soft on Israel, to which Palin responded by implying (and rightly so) that Couric is embracing powers who are the mortal enemies of our closest ally in the Middle East (and of us, I might add: Those Arab Moslems were dancing in the streets on 9/11).

I hasten to remind anyone who has any doubts about Couric’s allegiance to the Democratic Party, that after the 2004 election, she ignored George W. Bush’s victory over John Kerry, denying that Bush had a “mandate.” (See my article, “Media Stars Refuse to Concede Election; Denigrate Evangelicals; Deny Bush a ‘Mandate.’”)

As intellectually limited as Sarah Palin is, my impression is that Katie Couric is no better. In other words, Couric is an empty ladies’ business suit. Couric rose at NBC based on being an attractive female, and on her ability to mask her mean girl personality with a girl-next-door, on-air persona. As she rose, she doffed that initial persona like an out-of-style jacket, for a style more like its opposite.

Considering that Palin’s nickname in high school was “Sarah Barracuda,” these two implacable foes may have more in common than they would care to admit.

Prior to that interview, Palin needed to know that Couric hated her guts, would seek to humiliate her, and that Palin needed to go on the offensive. I realize that hindsight is 20/20 at best, but Palin needed to turn the question back on Couric, and ask her if she approached Democratic candidates the same way, and what, if anything, Couric read.

In academia, I used to run into people like Couric all the time, and early on, I was occasionally thrown for a loop by them. I eventually learned to respond to such types, who were all intellectual lightweights, not by playing by their rules, and attempting to justify myself to them (which was impossible), but with aggressive scorn and mockery.

(E.g., in 1994, when I read a philosophy conference paper entitled, “The God of the Frankfurt School,” which dealt with Hegelianism/Marxism, I was nervous that I would encounter a polished Hegel scholar who would make rebuttals that I would be unable to counter. Instead, the moderator of the section was a tenured feminist who sought to pass herself off as a “Hegel expert,” but who opened her response to my paper with, “It is the consensus among all mainstream Hegel researchers that Hegel was politically liberal.” Her statement regarding the politically conservative Hegel was so transparently ridiculous that I let out a guffaw, and said, “All Christians will come together, before there will be a consensus among all mainstream Hegel researchers,” adding that Hegel was anything but a liberal.)

Then again, I’m not running for president.

But Palin is clearly walking around these days, preparing for the last interview, which only reinforces the belief in her intellectual inferiority. She needs to understand that most politicians and media people—if you’ll pardon the redundancy—are poorly read dunces, and stop trying to impress them. (The ones who are well-read are typically sophists, a la David Brooks.) People who like Palin, like her for non-intellectual, even anti-intellectual, intuitive reasons—her apparent warmth, her common touch, her physical attractiveness, and the sense that she’s “one of us”—while people who despise her, despise her for equally non-intellectual, even anti-intellectual, intuitive reasons—her apparent warmth, her common touch, her physical attractiveness, and the sense that she’s “one of them.” Citing a reading list won’t help her with her supporters … or her enemies.

(A tip ‘o the hat to Lawrence Auster.)

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