The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Cousin Oliver is so adorable when he talks nonsense.

Know how I mentioned my growing habit of nicking Kevin Drum's pieces as one reason I stopped blogging? Well, here's another one that I agree with from start to depressing finish:

Sarah Palin, peeking out from a thicket of pre-scripted talking points in Colorado Springs, goes off message briefly and explains what went wrong in the home mortgage market:

The fact is, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they've gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.

A gaffe! But how does it measure up? On a technical basis, I'd say it's impressive. Until now, Fannie and Freddie haven't cost the taxpayers a dime and their current problems aren't really related to their size either. This leaves only a few conjunctions and proper names as sensible parts of this sentence.

On artistic merit, however, the judges have to score this one for Palin. Nobody cares about the minutiae of how GSEs work, after all, and liberal attacks on this score are almost certain to backfire because (a) we're obviously harrassing her unfairly over trivia because she's a small town mom and (b) we're just trying to show off how smart we are. Besides, as Palin said, John McCain is in favor of "reforming things," so he's obviously the right guy to tackle whatever problem it is that Fannie and Freddie suffer from. For liberal critics, then, there's no there there.

Actually, what's really impressive about this is that even though Palin obviously didn't know what she was talking about, she managed to dig smoothly into the standard movement conservative playbook to say something pleasing to the base anyway. Got a problem? It must be government's fault! Something somewhere got too big and too expensive and conservatives need to rein it in.

I think it's more than impressive-- it's absolutely staggering. And yet, it's just the latest entry in the vast "lying or incompetent" archives. Palin's statement is the exact opposite of reality. And in spite of the fact that she is running for the second-highest office in the nation, an example of ignorance (and/or dishonesty) that shows a dangerous lack of concern with major policy issues will have no coverage, no impact, and no repercussions.

Exactly why I'm afraid things haven't gotten bad enough for righties to start jumping ship. I really, really hope it doesn't take something like the Great Depression to finally sink the GOP's post-Nixon era of complete intellectual and moral bankruptcy, but it doesn't look like we're there yet.

UPDATE: Matt Yglesias agrees-- we're still in Bizarroworld. "All this liberal sneering at public officials for not having, you know, [an] in-depth knowledge of policy matters is exactly why we’re seen as out of touch."