If I remember anything from the 2008 Presidential Campaign, it is Sarah Palin answering questions. She was easy to fear, but hard to hate. She always seemed to me like a small animal in the middle of the road not sure where to run to escape a fast-approaching car. Much later, when she spoke more coherently, I found that she was, in fact, easy to hate: she was filled with the same right-wing hate-mongering that we’ve come to expect from the once Grand Ol’ Party. I miss those early days. And I’ve coined a term to celebrate them.
Palin’s most famous “answer,” of course, was her answer to Katie Couric’s question about what Supreme Court decisions she was against. Palin provided the following answer initially, “There’s of course in the great history of America there have been rulings that there’s never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are those issues again like Roe v. Wade where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there so you know going through the history of America there would be others.”
Based upon this one interview, I conclude that Couric is a nice woman. She wasn’t trying to “get” Palin. After this answer, Couric follows up with, “Can you think of any?” She says this in the soft, encouraging voice of a good grammar school teacher. A smart, but ignorant person would say, “My mind’s gone blank with all the lights and pressure of the campaign; let me get back to you on that.” Palin says, “I would think of any again that could best be dealt with on a more local level maybe I would take issue with. But as a mayor and as a governor and even as a vice-president if I’m so privileged to serve. Wouldn’t be in a position of changing those things but supporting the law of the land as it reads today.”
There are some interesting things to note about this exchange. There’s the fact that Palin almost never uses the word “um.” I think this is because she doesn’t need to. When most people talk, they need to pause occasionally to collect thoughts. Palin doesn’t need this time because she is not collecting thoughts; she’s just spitting out words and phrases in the hope that it will make sense. It is the equivalent of a bimbo’s giggle or a redneck’s “ah, shucks!” And that’s just fine if all you want to do is hang out with the girls or throw back a few with the boys.
Also interesting is the fact that Palin correctly states that the VP doesn’t really have anything to do with the Supreme Court. When she first met with the McCain people, she asked what the VP did. So this phrase is probably something they had been pounding into her brain. And it came out at Katie Couric!
If you look at just her first sentence you will see what she has going on, “There’s of course in the great history of America there have been rulings that there’s never going to be absolute consensus by every American.” (Remind anyone of Mars Attacks!?) This would be somewhat coherent if the question had been, “What do you think of the conflict between majority rule and Constitutional protections?” However, even if that were the questions (and it wasn’t—not even close), it would still just be a jumble of words.
This is why I have coined a term: Palindrone. Or, if you prefer: Palin-drone. As all nerds know, a palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same forwards and backwards. A Palindrone, however, is a collection of words and phrases combined randomly and signifying nothing, which, if combined in any other order, would still signify nothing. It is pronounced just as you would the two words: Sarah’s last name and “drone.” The accent is on the first syllable.
You might think this is a fairly limited word, but it isn’t. It is very common in politics. Most politicians do not have Palin’s ability to keep a Palindrone going for several minutes, but they can easily do it for a sentence or a whole “paragraph.” If you doubt me about Palin’s ability, see the 2008 VP Debate.
Palin Is Everywhere
Shortly before the 2008 election, Las Vegas held a “Sarah Palin look-alike stripper contest.” Here is a picture of the event from the Daily Telegraph:
What is most interesting about this photo is that when I saw it, I thought it was Sarah Palin. The fact that I had no trouble believing that Palin would be dressed like that during her beauty-pageant days says more about me than it does her. But it does say a lot about her. It is sad, but those five women are probably more serious thinkers than Palin. They just don’t get booked on Faux News.
Although I coined this term, I knew that many other must have thought of it before I did. The Urban Dictionary currently has 19 definitions of the word. They roughly fall into two categories: meaningless speech and Palin follower. Most of the meaningless speech definitions focus on the backward-forward aspect of the pun. This is fine, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. There is no reason that one would parse a sentence backwards. This is a reason to start moving the words around because such sentences sound like they mean something. Almost all of the definitions are from right before the election two years ago. As usual, I’m right on top of things.