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Sarah Palin may have been duped by two Canadian pranksters, and she may have spent a lot of the G.O.P.’s money on clothing, but is it really possible that she didn’t know that Africa is a continent? “Fox News reported Wednesday that Ms. Palin’s lack of knowledge on some topics also strained relations,” said one report. “Carl Cameron reported that campaign sources told him Ms. Palin had resisted coaching before her faltering Katie Couric interviews; did not understand that Africa was a continent rather than a country; and could not name the three nations that are part of the North American Free Trade Agreement–the United States, Canada, and Mexico.”
I’d be willing to bet those stories are pure garbage spewed by bitter McCain staffers. McCain lost and, instead of acknowledging their own responsibility, the candidate and his staffers are laying the blame for the entire debacle at Palin’s feet. Hence these anonymously sourced stories now pouring forth about Palin being a moron, a “hillbilly from Wasilla,” hot-headed (so unusual in a politician, so unlike McCain), and even a bit of a vamp. (“One night, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to her hotel room to brief her. After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel, with another on her wet hair.”)
There’s one problem with this scenario: John McCain and his campaign staff picked Palin to be the vice-presidential nominee. If she truly is an idiot and a diva, what does that say about McCain and the crack team that selected her?
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”