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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Palin Causes Left and Right To Lose Reading Ability

TPM ran a story yesterday, based on Sarah Palin's interview with Chris Wallace on Sunday, claiming that Palin had come out in favor of Obama bombing Iran to improve Obama's political standing. The TPM headline was Palin Advocates War With Iran After Apparently Misunderstanding Buchanan Column.

Bear with me a second, because it is important to understand the context. In the interview, Palin referenced a column by Pat Buchanan in which Buchanan, while opposing bombing Iran, wondered whether Obama would bomb Iran in order to improve Obama's reelection chances.

This is a familiar "Wag the Dog" argument that a President may use military engagement to distract from political problems.

With that context, here is the Palin-Wallace exchange relied upon by TPM (the emphasis is as put there by TPM, the underscoring is by me):

WALLACE: I know that three years is an eternity in politics. But how hard do you think President Obama will be to defeat in 2012?

PALIN: It depends on a few things. Say he played, and I got this from Buchanan, reading one of his columns the other day. Say he played the war card. Say he decided to declare war on Iran, or decided to really come out and do whatever he could to support Israel, which I would like him to do. But that changes the dynamics in what we can assume is going to happen between now and three years. Because I think if the election were today, I do not think Obama would be re-elected. But three years from now things could change if on the national security threat --

WALLACE: You're not suggesting that he would cynically play the war card.

PALIN: I'm not suggesting that. I'm saying, if he did, things would dramatically change if he decided to toughen up and do all that he can to secure our nation and our allies. I think people would perhaps shift their thinking a little bit and decide, well, maybe he's tougher than we think he is today. And there wouldn't be as much passion to make sure that he doesn't serve another four years --

TPM's assertion that this exchange reflected Palin calling for Obama to bomb Iran for political gain was picked up by the usual suspects.

Matthew Yglesias, linking to the TPM post, tweeted "Sarah Palin is actually dumber than you thought."

Steve Benen, linking to TPM, wrote that "Sarah Palin's capacity to be a constant embarrassment to herself is limitless." Raw Story wrote, Whoops: Palin advocates war with Iran, apparently misreading column.

But it turns out that TPM, Yglesias, Benen and Raw Story were the ones who could not read. Palin never argued that Obama should bomb Iran for political gain.

The Moderate Voice, linking to the TPM post, recognized that Palin's language was ambiguous: "It’s not clear to me whether Sarah Palin really did misunderstand Pat Buchanan’s column to mean that he thought Pres. Obama should bomb Iran...."

Pat Buchanan also came to Palin's defense, as printed in the TPM post as an update:
When Sara Palin cited my column she was saying that if Obama played "the war card" on Iran, that would change the impression of him as a weak leader and change the election dynamic. Exactly my point. When she continued on and said "which I would like him to do," she was referring to Obama moving closer to Israel, the phrase that directly preceded it.

Buchanan's defense of Palin caused TPM to reconsider (but not change) its screaming headline: "Our take: Palin's follow-up answer seems contradictory."

Lest you think only the lefty-bloggers misread, misunderstood, or misrepresented Palin's interview comments, Daniel McCarthy at American Conservative wrote that Palin Misreads Pat. McCarthy argued that while Palin's language may have been ambiguous, the call to support Israel rendered Palin "Bill Kristol’s very own Eliza Doolittle" and "means war." Daniel Pipes also attributed Palin's words "which I would like him to do" to bombing Iran for political gain, which was not the context.

This truly is amazing. Palin utters words which, at worst, were ambiguous, and left and right go wild with speculation which does not fit the actual words used.

We live in interesting times.

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  1. I took Palin to mean "bomb Iran because that shows leadership to world vis a vi the Iranian bomb" ... the "Leadership Card", you know the job we hired Obama to do ...

  2. Both sides want us to believe she is stupid. And they think if they say it often enough, we'll believe them.

  3. When I heard Ms. Palin say this, it was crystal clear that she would like Obama to increase support of Israel. Watch the video, folks. It is obvious - unless you are searching for any way to destroy this formidable "enemy."

    That is the only transparent thing going on these days, when it comes to politics! How the Left - and the jealous Right - must fear Sarah Palin. But, if you look at her record, this is nothing new for her.

    So, keep it up, Sarah! It's working.

  4. How can a President "declare war"?

  5. Why is is that everytime she gets interviewed, someone has to re-interpret her words and parse her statements? If she would just have clearer thoughts and process, perhaps this would not be needed.

  6. In this case it isn't Sarah who is ambiguous it's the morons who apparently do not understand the English language. How anyone could conclude anything but what she actually said speaks to their incompetence not hers.

  7. It's only Libtards who are re-interpretting her words. Normal folk understand her just fine!!

  8. Anyone who watched the interview and misunderstood what she was saying is either an complete idiot or disingenously trying to bash Palin. What a joke.

  9. and come on BuckJohnson, you are being disingenious as well. Palin knows very well the President has to go to congress for a declaration of war, but he is the one who asks congress for it. People don't say "congress declared war" on someone, they say either "the United States declared war" or "President *insert name here* declared war.

    You guys really are stretching and bending to try to bash Palin and it's straining your credibility to the point where it's broken with most of the public.

  10. If you can't read a short excerpt properly, or you insist on misinterpreting it, it's not her fault. She really wants the best for this country
    and has been pushing for the President to live up to his obligations

  11. I have to smile whenever I see progressives trying to ridicule Palin. Every time it happens, her popularity goes up in main street. She'll never run for president, but she'll have a major impact on the outcome.

  12. You didn't actually expect these people actually READ what she said did you?

  13. The leadership card needs to be put on the table before Iran calls Obama's bluff on the nuke issue.

  14. This is reflective of the current problem - today - in our sociopolitical climate in the US. There is a growing dissatisfied minority, up to 35% thinking there needs to be a third party. The usual suspects are both quick to gloss over information in the rush to be quick to adopt whatever might appear to be coincidental with this separatist meme without understanding that the Republicans and Democrats are both moving to co-opt the Tea Party and other Grass Roots movements for their own usual purposes: preservation of their jobs and power.

    It's a deep and complex situation folks and enough civility has gone out of the game for either side to pull no punches, bar no holds and generally have no minimum standard of conduct. We're all so buzzed up on what we think we know that few people are taking the time to read the subtext, context or even just THE TEXT!

    Case in point - lots of conservatives are jumping on the Born Again American idea that People for the American Way has put out there without understanding PFAW's advocacy of the homosexual movement. Dig deeper, think critically.

  15. She was probably a bit too ambiguous at the time, and could've done well to make it clear she didn't advocate attacking Iran for Obama's political gain (which it's doubtful she'd want anyway). But many conservatives watching probably did take it to mean that if she were president, she'd be "declaring war" (even though it's the power of Congress), something many in neoconservative circles have wanted for quite some time.

    Also, in the Iran debate, we need to really separate "attacking Iran's nuclear facilities" from "nuking Tehran". I'm afraid many aren't seeing much of a difference, or frankly care.

  16. Sarah's very slight stumbles of speech will always give the Left food for their faithful, but it's going to starve everyone else.

    It's little wonder that their elected leader won't leave home without a teleprompter.

  17. William, have you forgotten Pres. Obama's interview with Katie in comparsion to Palin. Plus Pres. Obama televised Q & A the Repubs. Personally I have no problem with a teleprompeter. And Anne, you proved my point. Almost every time Palin speaks publicly, folks have to imagine what her intentions were. I for one do not know what she knows.