As I’m currently trapped not only in England (by a volcano) but inside (by a rampaging cold), I thought I’d reconnect with the American political discourse I miss so much by reading a transcript of Sarah Palin’s speech in Hamilton, Ontario last week. For a little under two hundred grand, some lucky Canadians were treated to some theater whose absurd circularity does Beckett proud. More on that in a moment, though, as I first want to make something absolutely clear: Sarah Palin does not scare me. No one whose speech twists into modernist thickets while ordering coffee counts as a worthy political opponent; but as she is a political force amongst people who think no sandbox is complete without a couple of blowtorches—the parenting equivalent of having her serve as Commander in Chief—I feel it my duty as an American to condense her Hamilton speech down to its Platonic essence:
This is such a melting pot. This is so beautiful. I love this diversity. There were a whole bunch of guys named “Tony” in the photo line.
It is so good to be here tonight. We’ll kind of shift gears tonight. Having a conversation with so many of you is something that I look forward to. And not being so political tonight, I will talk a lot about energy, because I want to talk about some of the things that both our countries can do to ramp up production so that we can ramp up our economy, because the better our economies do, the better we do in terms of having opportunity to help children and those who are less fortunate, the better the rest of us do. We will talk a little bit about energy.
I’m wanting to kind of shift away from the political. The shift from the political, so now that I have that shift from the political but still have that desire to talk about the political and the economy and talk about energy and resources and national security and all those things. I was telling Todd, this is like on the the Vice Presidential campaign trail, where you never really knew what you were getting into when you get into that line before you get interviewed.
Obviously, sometimes I never knew what I was getting into in an interview. Obviously! Whenever we do something big in life, like a Vice Presidential campaign, I like to say a prayer about it. I need some divine inspiration and I need to remember what it really is all about, so that evening before the debate I remember being back stage and looking around for somebody to pray with, and looking around at the campaign staff and there’s nobody to prayer with. Not that I would think that God would speak through me, but wanting to leave you with a little bit of inspiration and encouragement and maybe on a personal level have a conversation with you about some of the things that Todd and I have been through in the last year and a half, the last couple of years, that hopefully you can learn a couple of lessons from, because we’ve been through quite a few challenges, quite a few battles and you all too, everybody goes through battles, everybody has challenges. Some are played out in the newspapers, some of ours have been. Maybe yours have not been, but everybody has to make tough decisions and prioritize things in life and here we are tonight, given an opportunity to come together to reach out to help others, to help children, who are in need. We don’t want to squander this opportunity, we want to be inspired and encourage and remember that though we all do go through some tough challenging times, we talked at the head table tonight that we need to be able to count our blessings, not our problems. We need to share our blessings, so we’ll do a little bit about that tonight.
I pause to ask the pressing question: do any among you have any clue what this woman is talking about? Does she? My answer, as you might figure, is a vehement: “No, with thunder.” She is making me uncomfortable with her words and what she says not because of their content, as they’re free of that burden, but because of their form; or, more accurately, their formlessness. Nine hundred poor Canadians purchased $200 tickets to listen to the segue-free ramblings of a woman who forgets the subject of her sentence by the time she reaches the verb, then the verb by the time she reaches the object but keeps talking anyway. Such is, after all, the beauty of talking points: so long as you say them all, the coherence of the speech containing them is inconsequential. “Sound bites” are called “bites” instead of “meals” for a reason now.