It’s a testament to how, er, wee-wee’d up they are over this that 99 percent of you will know what I’m talking about from the headline alone. If you’re among the other one percent, read Mediaite’s post and all shall be revealed. I saw her tweet moments after she posted it and figured it meant the Ground Zero mosque would be today’s story du jour. (Thanks to a Bloomberg aide sneering at her about racism, it almost was.) Then I noticed the “refudiate” error — which, if you watch Mediaite’s clip, you’ll see wasn’t merely a typo — and realized that this crap would be the story du jour instead. And sure enough, it’s the most-viewed article at WaPo on a day when they’re breaking their big “top secret” expose. As always with a Palin controversy, there’s something for everyone: For her critics, proof that she’s the uneducated yokel they’ve always known she is, and for her fans, proof that she can laugh at both herself and at the media whom she holds in the palm of her hand. James Poniewozik:
Of course, it’s also an example of how well Palin cultivates the media’s obsession with her. Her response to most controversies—don’t steer away from a storm when you can tack into it instead—plays them for maximum heat and exposure. If her response had simply been, “So I said it—what’s the big deal?” it would have been an opportunity missed. When she instead responded that her usage was an example of the living language going back to Shakespeare, it was guaranteed both to enflame her critics (She thinks she’s Shakespeare!) and delight her fans (she beat those know-it-alls at their own game!).
NPR runs down the predictable lefty goofs, which range from dismal (other mocking neologisms) to amusing (Shakespearean quotes Palinized). This won’t hurt her with her base, of course — few things ever do, least of all the sort of vocab mistake to which millions of people can relate. All it’ll do is further prove her unpretentious populist authenticity. But this is actually precisely the kind of innocent gaffe I had in mind when I said the other day that she’d have to run a perfect campaign in the general election to win. Even an error as trivial as this would follow her if made on the trail; the Democrats would flog it relentlessly as anecdotal evidence that she’s the new Quayle, isn’t qualified to be president, etc. Think back to the sort of play that Obama’s “arugula” comment got on the right: It’s a meaningless little nothing in itself, but as a vivid anecdotal detail that tends to bolster an existing narrative (that he’s an elitist) it gained traction. She has the same problem, except that the narrative against her — that she’s unqualified — is potentially far more lethal than the one he faced given the number of people who already question whether she’s qualified. I’m not sure what she can do to beat it when she’s not in office.