The following clip contains a lot of material, if you are fascinated by the conjunction of personality and communication.
Here’s the transcript.
Palin: like how? What’s up?
Kathleen: You swore on your precious Bible that you would uphold the interests of this state, and then when cash was waved in front of your face, you quit.
Palin: OH, you WANTED me to be your governor! I’m honored! Thank you!
Kathleen: I wanted you to honor your responsibilities. That is what I wanted. I wanted you to be part of the political process instead of becoming a celebrity so that you could (inaudible). And if that’s the best you could do, then good for you. If that’s the best you could do.
Palin: Here’s the deal. Here’s the deal. (inaudible) That’s what I’m out there fightin’ for Americans to be able to have a Constitution protected so that we can have free speech…And ALSO there…
Kathleen: In what way are you fighting for that?
Palin: Oh my goodness!
Kathleen: In what way?
Palin: To elect candidates who understand the Constitution, to protect our military interests so that we can keep on fightin’ for our constitution that will protect some of the freedoms that evidently are important to you too.
Kathleen: By using your celebrity status, certainly not by political status.
Palin Daughter: How is she a celebrity? That’s my question.
Palin: I’m honored! No, she thinks I’m a celebrity!
Palin Daughter: That’s funny that you think she is.
Kathleen: Well, you’re certainly not representing the state of Alaska any longer…even though…
Palin Daughter: She’s representing United States?
Kathleen: Yes, I know. You belong to America now, and that suits me just fine. Yeah.
Palin: What do you do here?
Kathleen: I’m a teacher
Palin: Oh. (Eye roll and protracted grimace)
Palin Daughter: Oh.
Kathleen: I also have a few other jobs. I’m married to a commercial fisherman. And so I fish.
Palin: Oh that’s cool. So am I! I married to-we probably have a lot in common!
Kathleen: Yeah. You know, I think that we do.
Palin: Hi! (waves to camera) Are we on video?
Kathleen: Too bad. I’m more of a still camera girl myself. (inaudible) I am, I am…I will tell you I’m very pleased to meet you.
Palin: I’m honored to meet you, I really am. And, no we both agree on the freedom of speech and the-
Kathleen: Yes we do.
Palin: you know – the protection of that. So, um, no I and, you know… best of everything to you too and Yeah.
Kathleen: Thank you for coming over.
Palin: Well, okay. It’s nice to meet you anyway.
There’s much of interest here. Palin seems confident her affability will allow her to transmit a jumble of ideas to her audience, a school teacher from Alaska.
I highlighted one chunk of her phraseology because it evoked for me thoughts about what it must be like to, in effect, be Mrs. Palin having her onrush of thoughts and then instantly delivering them. There’s something roundly unmediated–in the psychological sense–going on in her.
People have said to me Palin is a cynical character. I would suggest she’s not the least bit cynical. It seems she believes her own bullshit and she also truly believes there is a common sense she is called to “front.” This common sense is wholly foundational for her–which is to suggest it trumps everything. She may feel very sorry for all those who have lost their common sense.
Yet, at the same time, Palin lives in her own world and, crucially, doesn’t experience it as anything besides its simply being the real world. From this position, she’s running her strategy on this women: befriend her and deliver the transmission, and, her job is done.
What kind of world is the transmission coming from? Borrowing from Heiddegger, this clip shows Palin coming from a pre-ontological position. In other words, her jumble of common sense is not the result of any second order choosing at all. I don’t understand Palin to give a whit about making choices and structuring her thoughts. The thoughts arise, and fall out! Her ‘cipheric’ transmission doesn’t, from the pre-ontological position, require any kind of advanced articulation, completeness, or complexity. In other words, her sense of what exists is just so, and not the result of actually trying to figure it, what’s real, out.
(If you asked Palin, “How do you mediate your thoughts?” I bet she’d ask you “what the heck you are you trying to ask me?”)
Another way to frame this is to sense she’s just being her instinctual (ID-driven,) self, just being who she is, and this unfolds with enthusiasm, even with some generosity. But, in observing this unfolding, it’s readily apparent she’s not deeply mediating herself, at all. She doesn’t think, ‘what did I just say?’
So, although it seems mildly crazed and naive (as a communication strategy,) my guess Palin simply feels she’s responding from the genuine moment, having fun, and, unlike the usual anxious idealogue striving to convince, her psychic investment doesn’t seem here to possess much anxiety.
She reminds me of a self-possessed 14 year old. When you meet a self-possessed 14 year old, usually this sort of unmediated and confident presentation is impressive. It’s out-sized too. However, thirty years later the same person issues the same kind of presentation and one thinks, ‘there’s a disconnect here.’
Much of Palin’s disconnect is concrete. She’s not of main street, is in no way a typical housewife, and, at the same time, her self-definition would have it be so. Her flux of identity and common sense is (to me) delightful and unremarkably odd.
I don’t think Palin is very attached to having to pull each and every person into her odd world. After all, as a screen for projection, she receives a ton of reinforcement. It’s not make-or-break for her. Still, a Katie Kouric or school teacher from Alaska seem to be, to Palin, somewhat alien creatures. Worth an attempt, but not worth much more! Palin doesn’t feel estranged from such creatures. She’s acting out being an emissary between tribes, as if this encounter is on a playground. As she mentioned after the encounter with Katie Couric, she had hoped they would have grounded the interview in their both being working mothers.
This was a telling reflection. Palin knows she gets it, and, seems to find it mildly weird others live in some other world where what she gets, isn’t obvious.
My sense is her internal response is along the lines of ‘Oh, well,’ ‘whatever.’ It’s not her problem people in this other world are strange, and I rather think she isn’t aggravated to any great degree that these same other people find her strange. Probably it’s much more aggravating to her that other people are wrong about the nature of the world.
Sarah Palin is, from the sweep of my speculations and biases, a very American type of psychological figure, the kind of type that understands their own self to be in a real world, where some others are in their own unreal world.
As a type, this type isn’t able to step back and see the real world as encompassing anything else besides a particular–to draw down to Palin’s point of focus and enthusiasm–common sense.
This is a mistake of consciousness, yet I find it to be a delicious aspect of our cultural moment.
A Grand Unified Theory of Palinisms, Jakob Weisberg, Slate