Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Change we don't quite know what to make of

So the big question on everyone's mind right now (now that we're done with the Michael Jackson funeral, which occupied way too much of our collective attention, thank you very much) seems to be "Why did Sarah Palin resign as governor of Alaska?" It's not like she got caught having sex with a hot Argentinian (e.g. Sanford), or just generally being a prick (e.g. Blagojevich). Yeah, Palin's commitment to ethics does seem to have been a bit soft, but she's in a group of people that includes Rod Blagojevich, and in that company just about anything seems reasonable.

The title of this blog post was the caption of a political cartoon I saw today by Chip Bok. It really captured my bestartlement at hearing that she had resigned, and the complete lack of understanding that can be gleaned from her subsequent statements.

On a related note, Language Log has an interesting article today on the odd use of "I know that I know that I know" (or similar formations) that occurs in recent speeches by both Mark Sanford and Sarah Palin. Apparently this is yet another example of linguistic divergence within the American evangelical community; see also "dogwhistling", a common practice for Bush's speechwriters when he was President. To me it is somewhat scary that, to a large fraction of our country, ordinary sequences of words have special, nonobvious meanings. We risk becoming a country divided by a common language.