Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Palm pilot

I quivered at the thought of Sarah Palin running for president a couple of days ago, but now I'm warming to the idea. Think how much fun it will be. She is the American version of John Prescott, albeit more shapely than Two Jabs. What was her line about lipstick on a pitbull again?

Palin's latest gaffe was to write a few words on the palm of her right hand as an aide-memoire for an interview. When asked what she stood for, she surreptitiously looked down to check exactly what her principles were. Fortunately for us, a photographer managed to capture it too.

Some ask what the big deal is. We have all scribbled notes to ensure we don't forget things. One friend of mine tattooed the whole of Exodus on the inside of his eyelids for a theology exam. When asked later why he always walked around with a labrador and dark glasses on, he said he had been blinded by the word of the Lord.

But it is what Palin has chosen to write that seems worrying. How incapable is she of remembering what she stands for if she needs to write this stuff down? They say she has a steely intellect. Is that because it cannot absorb anything?

They are hardly obscure topic. Energy, rarely in the news, was one key point to mention. And "Lift American spirits". One presumes that is to do with optimism rather than slipping a bottle of Jim Beam under her coat next time she is in her local liquor store.

And then we get the really enigmatic one. She wrote "Budget cuts", then crossed out the first word and replaced it with "Tax". Was she really in confusion about whether she was in favour of cutting spending or taxation? That is seriously worrying rather than amusing.

She was mocked yesterday by the White House press spokesman, Robert Gibbs, who has never struck me as a great intellect himself, but showed a nice line in sarcasm by appearing for a press conference with the words "hope" and "change" clearly written on his hands.

But maybe the biggest problem with this gaffette is the hypocrisy. Only minutes earlier Palin had mocked Barack Obama as "just a charismatic guy with a teleprompter".

I'm not saying that she doesn't have a point - Obama's whole election campaign seemed to be based on making positive speeches rather than demonstrating much leadership ability - but at least he knows what he stands for without needing to have it written down.

Palin's aide-memoire reminds me of the joke about George W Bush, who was similarly urged to read from notes in case he forgot the basics.

On the back of his left hand, he wrote: "Breathe in", and on the right he wrote: "Breathe out".

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