The second installment of Katie Couric’s interview with Sarah Palin aired last night. The topic was the great wide world. One exchange deserves special study. From the transcript provided by CBS:COURIC: You’ve cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?This seems to be a case of incoherence of thought leading to incoherence of syntax. Pronouns wander in search of antecedents like Arctic explorers in a blinding snowstorm. Homophones confuse the transcriber. For example, one of the Governor’s answers could as sensibly, or insensibly, be rendered as
PALIN: Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundary that we have with Canada. It’s funny that a comment like that was kinda made to…I don’t know, you know…reporters.
PALIN: Mocked, yeah I guess that’s the word, mocked.
COURIC: Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign-policy credentials.
PALIN: Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of. And there…
COURIC: Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?
PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It’s very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right next to, they are right next to our state.PALIN: Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries. They’re in the state that I am the executive of. And they’re…In the “Putin rears his head” answer, jagged shards of the hasty briefings lately stuffed into Palin’s pretty head clang tinnily against one another. “We send those”—those? those what?—”out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this powerful nation, Russia.” Those what? We send what? My hunch is that this alarming jumble must have something to do with the path that Russian intercontinental missiles would take on their way to the lower Forty-eight and/or the air-defense installations that NORAD maintains in the state Palin is executive of. But who knows? The whole thing reads like something rendered from the Finnish by Google Translate.
For a seventy-two-year-old cancer survivor to have placed this person directly behind himself in line for the Presidency was an act of almost incomprehensible cynicism and irresponsibility. It makes a cruel—what’s the word?—mockery of his slogan. “Country First” indeed.
P.S. In the Seattle Times, Hal Bernton reports that Governor Palin has “balked” at opportunities to visit Russia on any of those “trade missions” she boasted of. Bernton writes:Opportunities abound for Alaska governors to engage in Russian diplomacy, with the state host to several organizations focusing on Arctic issues. Anchorage is the seat of the Northern Forum, an 18-year-old organization that represents the leaders of regional governments in Russia, as well as Finland, Iceland and Canada, Japan, China and South Korea.On the other hand, she has met Henry Kissinger and the president of Afghanistan.
Yet under Palin, the state government—without consultation—reduced its annual financial support to the Northern Forum to $15,000 from $75,000, according to Priscilla Wohl, the group’s executive director. That forced the Forum’s Anchorage office to go without pay for two months.
Hertzberg On Palin's Use Of Language
Read a real wordsmith. Hendrick Hertzburg does a nice evisceration of Palin's Couric interview....