April 6, 2010

"[Sarah Palin] speaks very much from the inside of her head, as someone watching the issues from a considerable distance."

John McWhorter analyzes Sarah Palin's speech from a position of remarkable superiority:
The there fetish, for instance — Palin frequently displaces statements with an appended “there,” as in “We realize that more and more Americans are starting to see the light there...” But where? Why the distancing gesture? At another time, she referred to Condoleezza Rice trying to “forge that peace.” That peace? You mean that peace way over there — as opposed to the peace that you as Vice-President would have been responsible for forging? She’s far, far away from that peace.

... The issues, American people, you name it, are “there” — in other words, not in her head 24/7. She hasn’t given them much thought before; they are not her. They’re that, over there....
What does it mean to use words that suggest that you see abstractions in your mind in a spatial way? If McWhorter were writing about someone he liked, I'll bet he would posit intelligence. But he concludes that it means that Palin has the mentality of a child:
This reminds me of toddlers who speak from inside their own experience in a related way: they will come up to you and comment about something said by a neighbor you’ve never met, or recount to you the plot of an episode of a TV show they have no way of knowing you’ve ever heard of....
It reminds you of that, eh? Exactly why does it remind you of that? A child talking about something he doesn't realize you don't know and Palin talking about ideas as if she visualizes them in an abstract place — those 2 things pop up together in your head. Do you see how easy it would be for me to portray you as childish for jumping from something about Palin to something about toddlers that it reminds you of?

ADDED: I apply McWhorter's theory of childish distancing to the Gettysburg Address.

141 comments:

bagoh20 said...

"This reminds me of toddlers who speak from inside their own experience in a related way"

Or someone not from Alaska who thinks everyone in this huge diverse country speaks like him over THERE.

bagoh20 said...

I've noticed that the primary trait of the elitist is to be above self-awareness.

Jacq said...

John McWhorter speaks very much from the inside of his ass, as someone watching, in the opposite directions, the wrong issues from a very, very considerable distance.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

More geographical snobbery. Palin's oratorical style is different. She sounds cheerful and friendly while speaking of serious subjects. I think most of her audiences appreciate the way she speaks, because she connects with them. Women have higher voices, and may sound nagging if they talk at the volume needed for energetic public oratory (Hillary Clinton, for example). Men, especially baritones, have the luxury of being able to sound serious and noble while booming at a crowd.

Two sexist, snobbish comments from supercilious men in one day! Would you like to go for three?

Toy

lyssalovelyredhead said...

She speaks in an idiosyncratic manner which is common in the region in which she grew up! What a moron!

victoria said...

She never really says anything of substance. Her speeches are kind of circular in thought, never exiting and having a substantive conclusion. I still don't know why people like her speeches. Id don't think she is cheerful at all. I think she is like Liz Cheney, mean, nasty and bitter. Bad speeches by Obama, too. He is too self centered and self focused for me. Still think Clinton (Bill) is the best speechmaker of the last 20 years.

Vicki from Pasadena

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

"...analyzes... speech from a position of remarkable superiority..."

Well, he is a linguist after all, goofball.

I look forward to the day when you renounce whatever authority you claim to have in the law.

Christy said...

In political speech doesn't "there" mean Washington D.C?

mesquito said...

That's the most disappointing McWhorter piece I've ever read. He's usually pretty good. I think it was assigned, and he let it sit around until deadline.

William said...

The author, quoting Biden, uses the nonexistent word "oversite" instead of "oversight". Can any reasonable person trust the insights of such a sloppy writer.

Doug Wright-OG said...

Victoria, so did you really like Clinton's approach? What about his cigar?

OTOH, at least you're being equally elitist towards both ends of the political spectrum. How nice of you!

mesquito said...

Fox News just reported a major earthquake in Sumatra.

traditionalguy said...

So many words to craft nothing at all. He said Palin talks like her audience thinks. He implies that such speech is a weakness...like having a womb. He is educated beyond his level of intelligence. Sad, very sad.Palin is unbeatable with tricks like this one because she is confident and says what she believes with confidence and style. Double speak and reverting to talking points shows one is a crook, not that one is specially intelligent.

bagoh20 said...

"Well, he is a linguist after all, goofball. "

So he has a degree at looking down his nose.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Her speech patterns are an effect of regional variations. The 'there' is probably similar the the Canadian 'eh' or the Valley Girl 'ya know'. Filler.

However, it is interesting to speculate that those living in a wide open expansive State like Alaska where you view many things at a considerable distance and large distances are a part of reality, might include the concept of distance in metaphors and speaking.


Unlike the constipated narrow vision of people in crowded urban rat mazes, the people of the west and frontier type states might have a different more expansive and three dimensional way of looking at the world.

Gee. This is fun. Now let's analyze McWhorter's sexual hang ups and fantasies based on his choice of shirts.

Also, the way a person speaks in a public forum, or speaks with people in casual settings and the way you speak in writing are all very different.

rhhardin said...

He's trying to analyze why Palin irritates him.

I can't listen to her either, and put it down to the cheerleader style and platitudes.

She would be better off talking about something that interested her.

rhhardin said...

Fox News just reported a major earthquake in Sumatra.

Let's play guess the continent.

Freeman Hunt said...

Rarely worthwhile to listen to politicians speak.

I did enjoy a semi recent Chris Christie speech though.

rhhardin said...

The there fetish, for instance — Palin frequently displaces statements with an appended “there,” as in “We realize that more and more Americans are starting to see the light there...” But where? Why the distancing gesture?

Wait till he finds out about pronouns.

Freeman Hunt said...

"People good. Flag good. Children good. Education good. Everyone making money good. Everyone pursuing his dreams good. Military good. Responsibility good. I will fight for good."

Thus endeth the stump speech.

Geoff Matthews said...

I like McWhorter. He is typically an even-handed gentleman.

However, what he's doing here is akin to profiling. His assumption is that people who talk a certain way must therefore be a certain way. That will only take you so far. Inferring that someone is intellectually immature because of word choice is a bit of a reach.

David said...

When Palin first burst upon the national scene, a liberal friend of mine sent an email that had been written by a woman (a Haverford graduate with a masters degree from somewhere or other) describing Palin.

This woman described Palin as a "redneck" and emphasized that she hunted live animals, had gone to a "third rate" college and had a husband who worked in the oilfields and raced snowmobiles.

Of course the author--who had apparently done nothing much in life but go to a couple of good schools--said Palin was stupid.

The left fears her. Lefty women especially fear her. They must marginalize and demean her, as was done to Clarence Thomas, because her failure is necessary to their sense of who they are.

The email was stunning display of bigotry--apparently spontaneous and visceral. Also contagious.

Opus One Media said...

fron the inside of her head...watching at a distance.....


ohmygod all that empty space..the cubic yards of void....no neurons...no grey matter....nada..zip...just pingpong balls bouncing around...never running into anything....

Doug Wright-OG said...

OOM: Great self-description! You're the weiner!

Paul Snively said...

This is especially odd for someone who so thoroughly rejects the Sapir-Worf Hypothesis.

Edgehopper said...

Maybe next McWhorter could explain how a certain other politician's verbal tics, like, "Let me be clear" and "Some have said," reflect on his intelligence and attitude--specifically, a paranoid, condescending attitude.

edutcher said...

Most Lefty women are where they are because of hubby's or Daddy's money and/or pull. Miss Sarah is self-made, like Maggie Thatcher. The feminazis hated her, too.

Her speech patterns are more Far West than Alaska, per se, especially the, "You betcha", which goes back to the California Gold Rush. She speaks like the people where the Zero speaks like all the academicians. Thus, the intellectual snobs think he's brilliant and think she's dumb. The people seem to know better.

And the idea that she speaks the same way the audience thinks is called communication. It's why she can speak from a couple of key words scribbled on her hand and POTUS needs TOTUS or he'll take 18 minutes to answer a question any competent pol could answer in a single sentence.

Duscany said...

I don't know what it is about Palin that makes liberals obsess over her so much. It couldn't just be that she's gutsy, pretty, and articulate. Those are all fine qualities but, in themselves, they will never get Palin the presidency.

So why are liberals so enraged at her?

My best guess is that they just cannot ever forgive her for not aborting Twig.

Revenant said...

Well, he is a linguist after all

Indeed. And he's trying to speak as though he was a psychiatrist.

Greg said...

I have heard of Sarah Palin, and I have heard her speak, she sounds fine to me. On the other hand, I never heard of John McWhorter before today, and have never heard him speak. My bet is that McWhorter could walk down any street in the country, and not be recognized. If he walked down the street carrying a sign saying, "I'm John McWhorter" few would recognize his name, and fewer would even care.

Maybe jealousy has a hand in what he has to say about Palin.

Duscany said...

On second thought I have another idea why liberals are so obsessed with (and fearful of) Sarah Palin. She's happy, comfortable and at ease among ordinary people in a way they'll never be.

Revenant said...

Out of curiosity, I decided to Google what the original Palin quote was. It is from an interview (transcript here), in which she was explaining the difference between Obama and McCain.

[Obama favors] redistributing other people's hard-earned money according to a politician's priorities, that that is -- that is not good for this uniquely American, pro-entrepreneurial system that we have that has allowed our country to be the greatest country on earth. We realize that more and more Americans are starting to see the light there and understand the contrast.

When you read the sentence in context it is hard to see how the ostensibly intelligent and educated McWhorter became confused about "where" the "there" referred to. It quite obviously means "see the light with regard to Obama's plans"; this is a common colloquial use of "there", as in "salsa is spicy and ketchup isn't, so you can see the difference there".

And the reason for the "distancing gesture" that left McWhorter so terribly confused is obvious -- Palin was distancing herself from Obama's policies, spinning the McCain campaign as the more traditionally American alternative to Obama's redistributionism.

McWhorter's confusion about the "forge that peace" remark is even harder to understand, since her use of "that" for emphasis is common English usage (e.g., "we will fight, and we will win that fight" versus "we will fight, and we will win").

Titus said...

Hello fellow republicans.

Palin's speaking doesn't bother me.

I was raised in the midwest and she sounds similar to my family and friends in the midwest.

I am not really a lefty liberal. I am self made and really don't rely on the government for anything and don't want to.

I am just a big fag that lives on the East Coast and will be living internationally soon. I do realize that she sounds very foreign to many of my East Coast friends though. But hello, they sound foreign to my midwest family.

I have lived in Wisconsin, San Francisco, NYC and Boston. Personally, I like the Boston accent most because I think it is hot. I am talking about the blue collar North Shore or South Shore accent. The nasally midwest/Sarah Palin accent doesnt' make me horny, but that's ok. Different strokes for different folks-I said strokes.

There is something really hot about a Bostonian saying he is "horny" or "hard" though. Makes me jizz in minutes-just personal preference though.

Oh southern accents make me cringe. Ever hear a southern fag speak? Imagine the southern piece and the fag piece combined-absolutely horrible. They call each other Pearl too-gross.

How are you?

Titus said...

Ranking fags in geographical hotness:

1) East Coast
2) Western
3) West Coast
4) Midwest
5) Southern

david7134 said...

I am from the South and the press and New England people make fun of us and discount us as stupid all the time. Funny how it is ok for a select group of people to be clearly racist and bigotted.

Bob Ellison said...

The quote you extract seems both accurate and fine to me, as someone who rather likes Palin. McWhorter seems to be writing of "objectivity", which is something we prize in philosophers, especially in political ones. Like many linguists, he then loses track of the ball as he analyzes what it means.

TMink said...

Palin should just say "um" like the intelligent people.

Trey

bagoh20 said...

Liberals' problem with Palin is simply that they hate people like her. People who: talk with non Northeastern accents, are openly patriotic, self-reliant, capable outside of the library, and are famous without going to an Ivy league. They believe there is only one valid life before power: College prep - undergrad - Ivy league - government employment. Even then, you must drop all indications that you know anything else, because that means you are different and may know things that they don't about the world, valuable useful things that are obscure to them. It terrifying, and a goddamn woman at that. What's most infuriating is that she's not ashamed of herself for not being like them. She laughs at the girls in the clique, because she doesn't need them. "I just hate her, totally."

I don't think politics is her calling, but she had no right to even come to their party. Who invited her? She's so icky and stupid.

bagoh20 said...

I wish I was a Southerner.

bagoh20 said...

What man doesn't dream of dropping his pants and hearing: "Gooooooly!"?

Andrea said...

Shorter John McWhorter: "Oh my god. Did you see her hair?"

Palin haters of all political leanings share this in common: their pathological fear of cooties. It's a childhood-trauma thing.

Titus said...

I love Rufus Wainwright's music so much.

thank you.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

"Indeed. And he's trying to speak as though he was a psychiatrist."

Interesting opinion, Revenant.

Are you saying that someone who specializes in understanding communication is entirely unqualified to speculate on the quality or complexity of thought embedded in what others communicate?

Let's keep it, er uncontroversial though. How about the meaning of the thoughts that they communicate? It's The Professor who called McWhorter condescending and demeaning of Palin's alleged intelligence, not McWhorter. Is he not even allowed to speculate on the meaning of how she said what she said, devoid of any implications regarding how, you know, gosh darn intelligent we're all supposed to assume she is? (Even though Althouse herself has posted, in one of those rare semi-serious posts of hers, her declaration that Palin is actually a dunce).

Nora said...

Well, Palin does not talk to academics. So why care what academics think of her oratory?

Anyway, I would expect many talking heads from all sides of political spectrum to be pretty jealous of Palin's success and appeal to so many people. She is remarkably successful women, and was even before she came into spotlight.

JAL said...

@ Ducany 6:26

Bingo.

Of course there is more, but that says it in spades.*

*(Considerably, in the extreme; also, without restraint. For example, They were having money problems, in spades, or Jan told him what he really thought of him, in spades. This expression alludes to spades as the highest-ranking suit in various card games, such as bridge, and transfers "highest" to other extremes. [Colloquial; 1920s] From here.

In case anyone was getting racist vibes.

JAL said...

I'm with whoever brought us the "Let me be clear...." "As I have clearly stated ...." "un un ummm umm umm" comment above. (Not to mention the inflection. Yechh.)

Palin has a distinct accent and regional language patterns. Duh.

I thought people like McWhorter (i.e. "linguists" "anthropologists") weren't supposed to criticize their investigative subjects. Diversity and all that.

Hypocrite.

Michael Hasenstab said...

I'll pay attention to what John McWhorter says when he can announce that he'll be speaking in Place X and ten thousand people show up to hear him.

You know, like Sarah Palin does several times each week when she's on the trail, over there.

dick said...

I guess McWhorter is missing the main point of her speaking. She is speaking to convey to the audience the points she is emphasizing and they are understanding what she says. Shame mcWhorter doesn't accept that. It is a rare gift to be able to explain complicated things so the listeners can understand ahd she has that ability. Obviously He doesn't.

holdfast said...

Titus:

The answer to your question is "Lindsay Graham".

Bruce Hayden said...

I find Gov. Palin fascinating. There is something about her that resonates with the populist in me.

But, until recently, she seemed to speak too fast for my likes. I have spent most of my life east of the Sierra Nevadas and west of I-25 through Colorado and New Mexico, and the people throughout there speak a bit more slowly than they do on the two coasts.

I think that one of the reasons that newscasters seem to do better if they come from the middle of the country is that they speak a bit more slowly. It seems to make them sound, at least to me, a bit more authoritative. And, women who speak too quickly seem to be trying to overcome a lack of self-confidence. I think that is may be even more important for women to slow down their speech.

So, I was pleasantly surprised this weekend when I watched her hosting a show on Fox news. She seems to be slowing her speech down just a bit, and I find that more appealing. Just a bit more, and I think she is going to be really dangerous.

I think that the other thing that she needs to do, and is likely to do, as she continues to speak as much as she has been, is to reduce the regionalisms in her speech. I think that she can connect with the average American just fine, if not even better, this way.

Revenant said...

Are you saying that someone who specializes in understanding communication is entirely unqualified to speculate on the quality or complexity of thought embedded in what others communicate?

Ah, I see the problem. You don't understand what linguistics is.

Linguists are specialists in the structure and function of languages. Like sociologists or economists, they can make reasonably accurate predictions and inferences about how large groups of people act. They have no expertise that would allow them to listen to a person talk and deduce how that person's mind works. Thinking that they can do that is as silly as thinking that economists can accurately assess your personality by reading your bank statements.

Jason said...

So you can see who the self-centered, bigoted idiot is, there.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

"Ah, I see the problem. You don't understand what linguistics is."

Linguistics is the scientific[1][2] study of natural language.[3][4] Linguistics encompasses a number of sub-fields. An important topical division is between the study of language structure (grammar) and the study of meaning (semantics and pragmatics). Grammar encompasses morphology (the formation and composition of words), syntax (the rules that determine how words combine into phrases and sentences) and phonology (the study of sound systems and abstract sound units). Phonetics is a related branch of linguistics concerned with the actual properties of speech sounds (phones), non-speech sounds, and how they are produced and perceived. Other sub-disciplines of linguistics include the following: evolutionary linguistics, which considers the origins of language; historical linguistics, which explores language change; sociolinguistics, which looks at the relation between linguistic variation and social structures; psycholinguistics, which explores the representation and functioning of language in the mind; neurolinguistics, which looks at the representation of language in the brain;

With all due respect, Revenant, kindly STFU with this right-wing rewriting of reality. I mean, I know you like hanging out with the anti-reality crowd as much as the next "Althousian", but if you're going to condescend to me on what I supposedly don't know, maybe you'd best get a clue as to what you're talking about also, mkay?

It's just common courtesy.

Jason said...

@Titus:

I gotcher gay southern accent RIGHT HERE!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPjEjXyZ2vE

Revenant said...

It's The Professor who called McWhorter condescending and demeaning of Palin's alleged intelligence, not McWhorter.

Well, yes. Although, since any intelligent person can figure out that comparing an adult woman to children and toddlers is condescending and demeaning to her, McWhorter is presumably well aware that he was.

Heck, it would be condescending and demeaning even if it was true. "Condescending" doesn't mean "false", after all.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I managed to find the context out of which McWhorter ripped the first quote, and, sure enough, the word "there" turned out to be exactly what a normal person would have guessed it to be-- a demonstrative pointing to something just said:

...Americans are really starting to hear what our opponents are talking about when they talk about spreading the wealth, taking more from our small businesses and from our families and then redistributing other people's hard-earned money according to a politician's priorities, that that is -- that is not good for this uniquely American, pro-entrepreneurial system that we have that has allowed our country to be the greatest country on earth.

We realize that more and more Americans are starting to see the light there...

Theo Boehm said...
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Paul Zrimsek said...

Same story, incidentally, with "forge that peace"-- it turns out, unsurprisingly, to mean "the particular sort of peace I just mentioned":

IFILL: What has this administration done right or wrong -- this is the great, lingering, unresolved issue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- what have they done? And is a two-state solution the solution?

PALIN: A two-state solution is the solution. And Secretary Rice, having recently met with leaders on one side or the other there, also, still in these waning days of the Bush administration, trying to forge that peace...

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Thank you, Theo, for warning us of Northeastern snobbery toward the South and Upper Midwest, while completely ignoring Palin's (and the Althousians') regular snobbery toward the coasts and big cities.

It explains a lot.

Nothing better than declaring yourself the victim of the culture war that you declared.

Revenant said...

psycholinguistics, which explores the representation and functioning of language in the mind; neurolinguistics, which looks at the representation of language in the brain;

Ritmo, I said you didn't understand what linguistics was. I did not say that you lacked the ability to cut and paste from Wikipedia.

Anyway, three points here:

(1): Neurolinguistics studies the physical mechanisms of language within the brain (i.e., it looks at brain structure, neural connections and the like). It is not applicable here.

(2): Psycholinguistics is a lot closer to the mark. However, my above comments regarding groups vs. individuals still apply. Like other branches of cognitive science, psycholinguistics forms theories in terms of cognitive processes rather than behaviors or biological factors. But it still doesn't study how individual humans' thoughts lead to individual humans' speech.

(3): McWhorter isn't a psycholinguist or neurolinguist. So even if you had been correct to cite those as examples of linguists who can do what you say they can, your defense of McWhorter would still be wrong. :)

Titus said...

Theo, if it so awful I suggest moving.

Theo Boehm said...
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Theo Boehm said...
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danielle said...

wow. this article is a pretty low blow.

i've never been a mcwhorter fan. and we all know i'm not a Palin fan either.

mcwhorter is wrong for this article. very very wrong. its unfair on many levels. he took her worst quotes and compared them to a child. i'm not sure who sounds good in their worst moments.

the only thing I see that is wrong w/ palin's off the cuff speaking style is that she rambles and tries to fill dead air when she doesnt having something substantial to say. she seems to sort of throw out every talking point when she's not scripted.

when she's reading a teleprompter like at the RNC, she's better than many politicians.

the president gets very slow and choppy and deliberate when he's caught off guard w/ a question. but i've never heard him sound as *bizarre* as palin in that katie couric interview.

Titus said...

Theo, if it so awful I suggest moving

And Mesquito, Jim Nabors, uggh, you can have him we don't want him.

Titus said...
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Ritmo Brasileiro said...

And anyway, what's wrong with reinforcing the defeat of Southern values since the end of the Civil War. I mean, unless one finds the outcome unjust...

Regarding Boston's own misapprehensions and elitist snobbery - at least when it comes to freedom of conscience, I've always found this little tidbit interesting.

In Puritan Massachussetts, the “no religious test” clause generated so much dissent that it nearly resulted in its refusal to ratify. One Massachussetts official “shuddered at the idea that Roman Catholics, Papists and Pagans might be introduced into office; and that Popery and the Inquisition may be sstablished in America.” But the “no religious test” provision survived, largely because the majority of American people saw the wisdom of it.

Titus said...

Oh Holdfast, must you with the Lindsay Graham.

Double trouble, totally gay accent with southern accent, who could actually cum listening to him say "fuck me harder.....Pearl".

By the way Cambridge is totally fab. Ridge and Latin High School-two thumbs up.

Theo Boehm said...
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Theo Boehm said...
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Mark V Wilson said...

I have a theory! Palin tries to connect on an emotional level with people she is actually talking with. When she does it in the context of a speech or an interview, this style of talking can come across as a little discordant. This is especially true when she's being interviewed by someone who is hostile to her. But more generally in interviews, she's trying to connect to the interviewer, but is also aware that the real audience is the viewers, but it's harder to connect with people who aren't there to give feedback. In sum, I think she's more emotional than intellectual in her communication style and basis of engagement with others. This is not meant as an attack on her intelligence or as a statement that she has an emotional style because she is a woman. Many intelligent people are not intellectual in how they talk and many people who connect with others on an emotional level are men. I also have no idea if this theorized way of describing her will help or hinder her in public life.

Titus said...

I live in Cambridge and go to a dog park nearby with many parents with small children.

None of them will enroll their children in public schools, which is very new to me. I went to public school and no one in my small community had a option.

But what I hear from these parents is the cost and selection process regarding these supposed "elite" and very expensive schools. It sounds fucking cut throat. I also have a couple of friends that teach public schools in Revere and Somerville. But what I do hear from all is that Mass has some of the best schools in the country even though it is obviously commie.

All I can say is WOW. I never knew. You learn something new everyday.

It is actually competitive for some of these parents to get their children into first grade. I admit I find it perplexing but also somewhat exotic. So foreign to what I experienced as a public school kid.

Oh, how I wish I could of been a public school kid to no avail. My parents would of never paid or allowed me.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Fuck you, Ritmo. I don't know where you are from, but you ARE an ignorant piece of shit.

And you, Theo, are the epitome of what happens when a passionless man attempts to express something resembling what normal people call feelings. Perhaps you had some, long ago, before you became so stiff, more like the deadened corpse of a human than the real thing. Or perhaps not.

Other than that, kudos on articulating your lack of any capacity for restraint, temperance, and reason. You are truly an eloquent spokesperson for your beliefs, which are as hollow as your personality.

Get some help, dude. Learn to get in touch with that raging barbarian wailing away inside you and how to cope with him, before he brings down the facade of your civilized exterior.

Seriously. You are acting the way Simon did when he decided to physically threaten others on this blog, shortly before he decided to never show up again. It's beyond unbecoming. It's self-defeating, uncivilized and borders on deranged and worse.

traditionalguy said...

Theo is reporting what he has experienced. That is an an affront to the identity needs of those that see themselves as part of a dominant area of the country, and permit no other opinion of themselves to be entertained. Such is life. Plain people from the boondocks who try to be good men and tell the truth are irrelevant to those identity needs. They need to reread The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and see a good plain man in action. Franklin's son abandoned him during the early days of the Continental Congress to keep his favorable self image as an aristocrat and ally to the King, He was ashamed of his Dad for helping plain rebels. I have seen my own cousins raised on Cape Cod need to see me as a foreign life form since my mother ended up in Atlanta, Georgia. But they were and are silly, weak people. Theo is angry for a good reason Ritmo. You are only better than him in your own mind.

Eric said...

I am from the South and the press and New England people make fun of us and discount us as stupid all the time. Funny how it is ok for a select group of people to be clearly racist and bigotted.

My sister does this. She would be horrified to hear a black joke, and if you said something negative about gay people you'd be in for a lecture (she thought prop 8 supporters were "Nazis"). And yet she throws out derisive comments about "rednecks" all the time, and by "redneck" she means anyone South of the Mason-Dixon line.

It's become so commonplace on the coasts to deride Southerners we now have the idiot prime minister of Australia doing it.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

"You are only better than him in your own mind."

What did I say about "better"? I said that he is deranged. The positive or negative value of that obvious observation is his business.

Titus said...

I mean a private school kid, not public school kid.

There were no private schools around when I was growing up and even if there were my parents wouldn't pay for it.

Also, the cost of these private Boston schools are incredible. I paid less when I went to college.

A lovely women with two pugs in Cambridge who I talk with everyday has her two children enrolled in private schools. One in the Back Bay and one at St Peters in Cambridge. Her daughter just returned from Barcelona, at the age of 15 and her son at the age of 10 is going on a weekend in NYC.

When I was 10 and 15 I got to go to Baraboo and the Madison Capitol. It's just unfair.

Oh well.

Titus said...

No private schools in the Madison area I should clarify, unless it was Edgewood High School.

I totally would of been well suited to be Jemay from Summer Heights High on HBO.

Opus One Media said...

She is an idiot. She was an idiot yesterday. She will be an idiot tomorrow.

That great sucking sound you hear is that of the right wing rable being sucked into that empty noggin of idiocy that passes for a right wing brain.

Eric said...

She is an idiot. She was an idiot yesterday. She will be an idiot tomorrow.

Says you. I see no evidence that's true. Most likely she's fairly intelligent - you don't get to the governor's chair in any state by being an idiot.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...
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Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Plus, you happen to be wrong, TG. You say:

That is an an affront to the identity needs of those that see themselves as part of a dominant area of the country, and permit no other opinion of themselves to be entertained...

Which sounds like I am denying Theo his prerogative to declare Bostonians snobs. I did no such thing. In fact, I even attested to historical evidence of their snobbery regarding the common wisdom when it comes to deciding the credentials for elected officials.

What I did do, however, is I compared that to the snobbery demonstrated by inhabitants of other areas of the country toward people in the blue states.

Just because someone declares themselves salt of the earth doesn't mean they have proven themselves victorious in the populism war. It just means they are focused on maintaining a strict framing of the terms to their benefit. Which is a disingenuous thing to do.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Anyone who uses "mint" as an intransitive verb should perhaps cut other people a little slack when it comes to idiosyncratic usage.

Theo Boehm said...
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traditionalguy said...

Ritmo...I like you for your use of words. My only point was that having experienced unearned snobbery up close makes one better able to spot it in action. Snobbery can arise anywhere, including in small isolated communities. In the Georgia hinterland there is a knee jerk resentment of everthing from Atlanta. And all Georgians look down on Alabama. Envy is a force in human communities. I can tell that you are not a true snob, but you are proud of your superior language skills sometimes. Give us a break, and we will give you one.

Howard said...

This post is an indication that Ann and Meade fund their road trips via instalaunches. I understand that this post may or may not be launched, but it is of sufficient wingnuttery to keep them in the game.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Comparing anti-coastal heartland populism with the REAL power inherent in the East Coast is absurd sophistry.

At the threat of an honest, decent, civilized and open-ended conversation, I wouldn't want to deny anyone's assertion that Boston harbors not only the ubiquitous self-perceptions that drive elitism, but actual power. Ross Douthat's well-written book on that is a good read because it provides a credible first-hand account of how future power takes shape in the institution he attended.

And yet, real population shifts make a purported Coastal/Heartland divide a tad oversimplified.

For instance, what are we to make of the Red State of Texas, one base of the most powerful conservative family in American politics? The same family whose other roots are just as strong on the East Coast?

Its population alone doesn't account for its power, though. It hosts a market for producing energy that jousted with a state as hungry for their product as California was. And Texas-based Enron seemed to pave the way for Wall Street practices that persisted for years after the firm's demise.

And then there's Texas Instruments.

We have burgeoning centers of political power, even if just in terms of demography, in Virginia, Arizona and Colorado.

You're right that the East Coast is where more powerful and venerated population centers are located than anywhere else in the country. But for any scion of the East Coast elite to travel to the top of their game, they have to consolidate power with an idea, an industry, or an ideology that derives outside of that geographical base of operations, wouldn't you say?

The relevance of a script based on the enduring control exerted by the East Coast elite becomes weaker every day, I would think. No one is going to vote for someone anymore whose power never took root in anything outside cities in the Northeast. It's just not going to happen. The country is just too big for that.

Do you really disagree?

E.M. Davis said...

Theo-

May I suggest you take a nice vacation in the deep South?

Or better yet, maybe a good ass-kicking from some of them slack-jawed yokels will set them straight.

Methadras said...

The PDS is huge in leftard land.

Theo Boehm said...
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Ritmo Brasileiro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Envy is a force in human communities. I can tell that you are not a true snob, but you are proud of your superior language skills sometimes. Give us a break, and we will give you one.

I will definitely give almost any one of y'all here a break - especially you, TG. So thanks for skillfully breaking the news to me that my rhetoric was over the top. Sometimes (ok, often) I like to challenge, but at root, I simply want to do battle with the idea. If I'm taking liberties that miss that and go beyond joking or self-defense into an unwarranted attack of the person, feel free to let me know.

I am not perfect and am more appreciative of your tolerance of me than you know, as I am of your efforts to point out the former. Coming here helps me to get an idea of how other people approach certain ideas. They aren't always explained to me in terms I can readily accept or understand, though, and I thank you for bringing things down a notch to where I can get them on a human level.

All that said, yes, envy is a force in human communities everywhere, meaning that it is the ubiquitous ingredient in what drives both elitism and its mirror image: populism. I think if anything, that was my point.

I regret that the way I made that point got under Theo's skin to the degree that it had. I take ideas seriously and am no more interested in him thinking that I would belittle his personal anecdotes than that I would feel that a one-sentence curse was the extent of the enlightenment I sought.

traditionalguy said...

Ritmo...See if you can find a copy of a 1993 book on finding snobbery at its source, written by a Georgian that went to Cambridge at Oxford. It is called Looking for Class by Bruce Feiler. He has written several other good books since then on the Holy land and on an ancestor of his called Abraham.

Titus said...

You are correct Theo and I was wrong. The women who I speak with daily did not say St. Peters was "elite" but rather a good school.

Titus said...

You are correct Theo and I was wrong. The women who I speak with daily did not say St. Peters was "elite" but rather a good school.

Titus said...

You are correct Theo and I was wrong. The women who I speak with daily did not say St. Peters was "elite" but rather a good school.

Theo Boehm said...
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Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I will do that, TG. Thanks for the advice!

Helen said...

Danielle wrote: "the president gets very slow and choppy and deliberate when he's caught off guard w/ a question. but i've never heard him sound as *bizarre* as palin in that katie couric interview."

My dear, you obviously have not listened to Teh Won speak. 17 minutes. Free associating BS while on the campaign trail.

Also, remember that Couric had to edit that interview to make Palin look bad. Teh Won manages that (

Titus said...

My mistake Theo and I apologize.

Although, I would love to of attended to the private school in the Back Back which allowed me to go to Barcelona at the age of 15.

Now, the mother told me that those Barcelona students that took in our American students in are here this week to see the U.S. and Boston. How nice. What a great experience.

Juba Doobai! said...

Danielle wrote: "the president gets very slow and choppy and deliberate when he's caught off guard w/ a question. but i've never heard him sound as *bizarre* as palin in that katie couric interview."

My dear, you obviously have not listened to Teh Won speak.

E.M. Davis said...

Theo-

I was merely suggesting that you put your sons in a place where their comeuppance is the only possible result — if their snobbery bothers you to such a degree.

Due to Southerners politeness, the outcome may have to 'manufactured' to a degree.

Calypso Facto said...

RE: Ritmo and Coastal/Heartland divide

I think you're on to something as far as a solely Eastern elite having widespread appeal. John Kerry and Michael Dukakis come to mind as examples.

But your faith in Texan power would have more credibility if Clan Bush wasn't all Ivy educated, Jeff Skilling wasn't a Harvard MBA, and the founders of TI weren't MIT, RPI, and Columbia grads (Pat Haggerty the only "true Mid-westerner...go Marquette!)

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

In any event, given the fact that TG's graced us with his presence, I feel a need to clarify that I don't refer to a defeat of all "Southern values" after the Civil War. I know more than a few Southerners and appreciate their warmth, friendliness and honesty.

At the same time, I should clarify that some cultural habits might have developed around the regions that supported slavery, that might not have served a useful purpose afterward. I don't refer to the obvious things, like segregation. And I just wonder if the warmth, friendliness and honesty are dual-edged swords, having taken root in an economic milieu that could afford to take leisure more seriously than the overworked laborers and industrialists of the Northeast and Midwest.

I think those are good things, on the whole, and that they balance out the ingenuity and industriousness of the Yankees. I just wish we could achieve a better balance of both; but as a Northerner I'm inclined to a greater appreciation and evaluation of the South's ways.

Perhaps I am just expressing envy. ;-)

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

But John Kerry and Dukakis never achieved the appeal to win election, Calypso. And Texas has great institutions, such as Rice.

It just doesn't have the advantage of the historical legacy of the East. Over time perhaps things will even out.

Calypso Facto said...

I liked your discussion of the "divide" and agreed about Kerry/Dukakis: all Eastern = no national support. I also agree that Texas is forming a third coast with a unique view. I just wanted to point out the East Coast connections of your earlier Texas references. As someone who has made that pilgrimage from the Mid-west to New York for college, I know there are still lots of historically elitist ties to the East for now.

danielle said...

Helen ... The Won ? The one who won ? even palin herself was ashamed of that interview ...

c'mon ...... please .... you make a mockery of your own comment.

Theo Boehm said...
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Theo Boehm said...
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Peter V. Bella said...

People are still trying to figure out what part of Joe Biden's body he speaks from. Biden- VP! Suckers! You elected the dumbest White man in America. Actually, he is the dumbest human being in America.

energeopolitics said...

I'd like to see McWhorter take apart Bambi's bumbling, fumbling failed dodge when asked the simple question of who that self-proclaimed "South Side Kid's" favorite White Sox player was. Or his 17 minute rambling non-answer to the woman who thought she was over-taxed.

I don't need to see those answers written down to know they were syntactically fractured and grammatically failed. I also know that they don't make the President a stupid man.

bagoh20 said...

This thread is self-parody. I love you guys, but really it is. If this was all orchestrated in advance as some kind of new blog sketch-comedy thread, you guys are genius. Funny shit.

Revenant said...

the president gets very slow and choppy and deliberate when he's caught off guard w/ a question. but i've never heard him sound as *bizarre* as palin in that katie couric interview.

Well, here's an excellent example from four days ago.

Then there's this from yesterday. Although, to be fair, his answer isn't really all that bizarre; the lie that led to the response is. :)

Mark said...

I don't know what it is about Palin that makes liberals obsess over her so much. It couldn't just be that she's gutsy, pretty, and articulate. Those are all fine qualities but, in themselves, they will never get Palin the presidency.

It's simple. On all the core social issues of the '60s and '60s, the Liberals won. A black man in President. Women work at the highest levels of every profession. The last-part-over-the-fence positions for high-school grads go to the Asians who score best on the tests.

They hate her because they've won. And she isn't the least bit deferential.

mathewsjw said...

Every Sarah Palin attack is a Alinsky attack such as when Progressive Liberal Socialist Democrats; lie, libel, slander, defame to smear opponents of Socialism as foretold in Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky.

Immoral Alinsky behavior proves that Progressive Liberal Socialist Democrat philosophy is evil & amoral similar to that of psychotics or serial killers i.e. psychopaths for the ‘greater good’ of Socialism.

lowandslow said...

"But he concludes that it means that Palin has the mentality of a child:"

And? She does have a mentality of a child. Why do we on the right ignore that? Just because she's a 45 year old woman that raised some kids automatically make her a spokesman for conservative ideology? Nothing in her political past affirms this, she's got as far as she has on looks and populist rhetoric.
Her record in political office is not just a disaster, it's an insult to conservatism. Why? Because she doesn't understand how to govern, problem solve, or understand the realities of our current economy/capitalistic system.
The reason she can't speak coherently on any subject is because she has no understanding of any subject. We meet grown adults like this everyday and we dismiss their opinions and viewpoints because they're are nothing more then the thoughts/mentality of a child.

Bluedog Alaska said...

Here's what we noticed in Alaska. As soon as McCain plucked her from obscurity, Palin went full-bore folksy. Nobody I know recalls hearing her speak with that over-amped Fargo accent or with the constant string of "oh heck, I'm just an ordinary real American like you folks" affectations.

As for her ability to express thought--read a transcript of her "I quit" speech of July 3, 2009. Without question, she wrote it herself (and she read it from a TelePrompter). The transcript immediately appeared on the governor's web site and was quickly taken down for some much needed editing.(Somebody apparently recognized that an over-enthusiastic use of exclamation points and random capitalization reduced the gravitas.)

Perhaps Palin could establish whether she can think on her feet and share a substantial or original idea in reasonably clear fashion if she could find the gumption to leave her Facebook foxhole and her Fox news safety net and answer unscreened questions from an actual journalist. She has been absolutely brilliant at avoiding what every other public figure or politician routinely faces.

I suspect she understands her own weaknesses better than some people who have commented here.

Anna said...
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Anna said...

I think it's quite obvious that McWhorter doesn't like Palin, and thought that it would be clever to trash her in the guise of "linguistic" analysis. He took her quotes out of context and insulted her by insulting those who like her message.


He's a pseudo-intellectual snob who doesn't understand her appeal, so his conclusion is that her appeal isn't worth much.

Secular Apostate said...

Palin's communication style is not unlike that of many escorts and strippers when they are interacting with customers that are going to spend money. The airy rambliness is just part of the (semi-conscious) hustle. It's only unusual to see a female politician using those tricks.

What is also interesting about her is the fact that if she'd been the same age and look even ten years ago, she never would have had a chance to become a political celebrity. She, even more than Obama, needs the social media that didn't even exist in such easy to use and widespread forms ten years ago, or really even five.

Revenant said...

Here's what we noticed in Alaska.

You need to work on your Mobying technique, dude. It is a little weak.

Slow Joe said...

iowaandslow says Palin's work as governor is an insult to conservatism, but neglects to mention why.

I think she did a great job for her state, saving them a lot of money and getting things done that were difficult. She was hardly a far right ideologue, but she was a great governor, including when she resigned to give the state a governor that wasn't sued (dishonestly) by Obama's campaign staff and could do his job.

Mobies love to crap on Palin. She's not the end all be all, and if we hadn't elected someone with no experience whatsoever, she wouldn't be a serious contender, but she is a great leader, and the mobies know it.

Must sting.

LarsPorsena said...

April 4, 2010
" Even by President Obama's loquacious standards, an answer he gave here on health care Friday was a doozy.

Toward the end of a question-and-answer session with workers at an advanced battery technology manufacturer, a woman named Doris stood to ask the president whether it was a "wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care" package.

"We are overtaxed as it is," Doris said bluntly

He then spent the next 17 minutes and 12 seconds lulling the crowd into a daze. His discursive answer -- more than 2,500 words long -- wandered from topic to topic, including commentary on the deficit, pay-as-you-go rules passed by Congress, Congressional Budget Office reports on Medicare waste, COBRA coverage, the Recovery Act and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (he referred to this last item by its inside-the-Beltway name, "F-Map"). [...]

Halfway through, an audience member on the riser yawned."

McWhorter's next assignment should be analyzing the prolix vacuity that is Obama.

Andrea said...

Shorter lowandslow: "She does too think like a child! She's just a big stupid baby! Me and my smart friends laugh at her! Waaah!" (stamps feet)

kentuckyliz said...

The flyover zone people like me love a lot of ladies who have a "there" speech habit...and so we have a positive association with it. If our moms and grammas and aunties who love us overuse "there" and they love us, then it's dangerous to go after a trait of Sarah's that might have a subconscious connection to our mom/gramma/auntie loving selves.

I grew up in the flyover zone but my parents were immigrants so my mom/gramma/aunties didn't talk like Sarah.

Maybe that explains my liking of Thatcher.

Paul Zrimsek said...

"I'm not sure I agree with you a hunnert percent on your policework there, Lou." -- Marge Gunderson

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Andrea said: "Shorter lowandslow: "She does too think like a child! She's just a big stupid baby! Me and my smart friends laugh at her! Waaah!" (stamps feet)"

You left off the part about how girls are icky and only boys can be smart.

- Lyssa

viator said...

Have some of these commentators ever read Governor Palin's speeches?

"It's worth asking why Senators Obama and Biden are opposed to the very same production methods in America that they advocate for other nations. Usually, the answer we hear is that they fear environmental harm from domestic production, especially in the case of offshore drilling. But there's a big problem here, even if we take their argument on its own terms. Technology has made production far cleaner than was once thought possible -- by use of such methods as horizontal drilling, carbon capture and storage, and enhanced recovery. And those cleaner, safer technologies are far likelier to be used in the United States and Canada than by China, India, or other developing nations.

So policies that forego domestic production don't protect our environment. They simply accelerate and reward dirtier and more dangerous methods of production elsewhere, in countries that apply few if any environmental safeguards. While our opponents like to posture as defenders of the environment, in practice their refusal to support more domestic production does more harm than good."

from Sarah Palin on Achieving Strategic Energy Independence , Toledo, OH October 29, 2008

or

"But Iran is not only a regional threat; it threatens the entire world. It is the no. 1 state sponsor of terrorism. It sponsors the world's most vicious terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah. Together, Iran and its terrorists are responsible for the deaths of Americans in Lebanon in the 1980s, in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s, and in Iraq today. They have murdered Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, and other Muslims who have resisted Iran's desire to dominate the region. They have persecuted countless people simply because they are Jewish.

Iran is responsible for attacks not only on Israelis, but on Jews living as far away as Argentina. Anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are part of Iran's official ideology and murder is part of its official policy. Not even Iranian citizens are safe from their government's threat to those who want to live, work, and worship in peace. Politically-motivated abductions, torture, death by stoning, flogging, and amputations are just some of its state-sanctioned punishments.

It is said that the measure of a country is the treatment of its most vulnerable citizens. By that standard, the Iranian government is both oppressive and barbaric. Under Ahmadinejad's rule, Iranian women are some of the most vulnerable citizens.

If an Iranian woman shows too much hair in public, she risks being beaten or killed.

If she walks down a public street in clothing that violates the state dress code, she could be arrested.

But in the face of this harsh regime, the Iranian women have shown courage. Despite threats to their lives and their families, Iranian women have sought better treatment through the "One Million Signatures Campaign Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws."

Governor Sarah Palin on Iran
September 22, 2008

Maybe not "A house divided", but at least as good as most other political speech of our time.

AllenS said...

"Gird your loins," Biden told the crowd.

Now, that there's some good talkin.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

They aren't always explained to me in terms I can readily accept or understand, though, and I thank you for bringing things down a notch to where I can get them on a human level.


And, thus, in a cloud of glory with rainbows and prancing unicorns in the background Ritmo deigns to lower himself from his perch amongst the hallowed Gods to converse on a 'human' level with the pond slime that inhabits the lower strata of the Althouse commentariat.

Alas, if only his giant brain (and ego)were not such an impediment to being able to understand or to communicate to the lower, less worthy inhabitants of the web-sphere, he could transform our 'wrong thinking' with a stroke of his mighty pen or a resounding crash of inspirational pixels.

(LOL and I'm still on my first cup of coffee.)

jeff said...

"Her record in political office is not just a disaster, it's an insult to conservatism. Why? Because she doesn't understand how to govern, problem solve, or understand the realities of our current economy/capitalistic system."

And yet you provide no examples. Change the her/she to him/he, drop the line about conservatism and your talking about OBAMA.

HT said...

What Vicki's 5:22 pm comment said!

Hoosier Daddy said...

Ritmo said:Other than that, kudos on articulating your lack of any capacity for restraint, temperance, and reason. You are truly an eloquent spokesperson for your beliefs, which are as hollow as your personality.

This is really funny coming from the same guy who in a previous thread here called me a 'pussy' and 'fuckface' because he couldn't defend his pathetic views in an adult manner.

I must say, Ritmo never ceases to amuse.

LordSomber said...

I like McWhorter's writing a lot (I have several of his linguistics books) but he's really stretching the dissection here.

AlphaLiberal said...

It's clearer and clearer every day that Republicans and conservatives are very poorly informed on the issues. Stunning, really.

Michael said...

Speaking of stunning!! It appears that a number of people are showing up at Doctor's offices asking for free medical treatment, others are calling insurance companies wanting their free insurance. Simply stunning.

jamboree said...

I generally have liked McWhorter, and overlooked his embarrassing moment of relish over Obama's borrowed black preacher cadences seducing the sons and daughters of slaveholders into making Obama the master, but he is being an ass. Overthinking this by half. It's a colloquial pattern of speech. End of.

Methadras said...

I'm actually surprised that McWhore-ter didn't use the royal WE in making his appeal to idiocy.

Doug Wright-OG said...

OOM: Whatever. Now, take your toys and run home to your little teeny weeny or to your Mommy. Maybe she/he will give you a big hug and slap your ugky face so it hurts like what you want. Jeez, what a maroon!

"Theo:" you're still liked by almost everyone except Garage, Ritmo, OOM, and AL and they don't count cuz they're nerdish assholes who couldn't stand up straight without their finger up their Socialist frigging ass.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Alas, if only his giant brain (and ego)were not such an impediment to being able to understand or to communicate to the lower, less worthy inhabitants of the web-sphere, he could transform our 'wrong thinking' with a stroke of his mighty pen or a resounding crash of inspirational pixels.

Not all of you think "wrongly" because of a psychological handicap, Bunny. So stop projecting and speak for yourself.

J said...

It's not "there'.

It's....THAR.

THAR appear to be many folks out here at the teabagger rally who love God AND guns. THAR ain't nothin' wrong that, thar.