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September 26, 2008

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i hope, after Nov. 4, i never hear from or see Sarah Palin ever again.

i hope, after Nov. 4, i never hear from or see Sarah Palin ever again.

"A very bad Disney movie."

You can say that again, rob!

It's about inquisitiveness, a hunger for knowledge, and an interest in reaching out for answers/information ... not, certitude, i.e., I have all the answers.

One is representative of a leader; the other, a fraud.

We've had this amply demonstrated for 8 years and, if one's head is not intractably planted up one's bigoted anal cavities, can observe, and feel, the results.

In the list of people who manage to travel without being part of the elite, you can't forget service members. The military, especially the Navy, has used foreign travel as an inducement to enlist for as long as I can remember.

Back in the 90's, when I was making $14,000 a year, after leaving my small town and moving to the city, I bought a round trip ticket from NY to Stuttgart for about the cost of Sarah Palin's glasses. Not with my parent's money, either. And I borrowed a back pack.

This reverse snobbery is getting so old.

And certainly, governors are any part of any elite, are they?

I'm not saying I'm a Sarah Palin fan, but goodness, in this post it seems like you (hilzoy) are just trying to find things to criticise her for. I recently read a post of yours (from 2005) where you talk about seeing 'grey as black' and then finally 'white as black', and I think that's what you're doing here.

"Notice that she never came out and says what she really means. Rich people. Snobs. Elitists. You know — the kind of people who get passports. Them."

Surely (since you are endorsing the post this quote comes from) you could have been more charitable in your interpretation.

"I generally try to act on this [sic]: not to draw any bad conclusions about people until I have what seems to me clear evidence that those conclusions are warranted." - hilzoy (Hatred is a Poison)

I don't think Palin's comments are clear evidence of what she's being accused of here. I don't think you can infer just from that that she's totally incurious about the world outside of America.

I'm not one of those who maybe came from a background of, you know, kids who perhaps graduate from college.

but she went to college(s), and graduated.

WTF is she trying to say?

Excellent post. Your allusions to Breaking Away and Matt are spot on.

You don't need money to travel, you just need gumption.

That Charles Brown piece is really stupid. Based on the quote provided, all we know is that Palin claims to have not had the money or time to travel. It says nothing about whether she is "curious" or interested in traveling. For all I know this is a lie; she very well may have had opportunities and not taken them. But her statement doesn't say, or even imply, that only elites are interested in traveling. Rather, it suggests that there is a certain culture (which is a cliche as much as a reality) of middle-to-upper class people who send their kids to Europe when they graduate from college, and that working class people don't typically have that opportunity.
The notion that travel is both a sign of and necessary element of curiosity is absurd and insulting. I have no interest in defending Sarah Palin. She seems like an idiot. But I am quite sick of the idea that if one doesn't have much interest in traveling, that necessarily means one is "incurious." I took a short trip to Europe when I was in graduate school. It was great. I am now in my early 30s, and I have no particular desire to travel. Sure, if someone offered me a ticket, I'd go to Thailand, but if I never leave the country again, I won't be upset about it.
I'm about to complete a Ph.D. in a humanities field. I read an awful lot of scholarship. I read many blogs on a regular basis--political blogs, culture blogs, academic blogs. I am deeply curious about the world and how it works, and yet I have little interest in traveling. Does this make me "incurious"? I recognize that Palin's lack of international travel is only part of a larger set of facts that make her seem uninterested in anything she doesn't already know, but the frequency with which people who aren't interested in travel are belittled within much blogosphere discourse is alarming. There are many things about which one can be curious, and many ways to express, engage in, and satisfy curiosity; travel is not the end-all and be-all, or even a necessary part, of life or intellectual pursuits.

"But I am quite sick of the idea that if one doesn't have much interest in traveling, that necessarily means one is "incurious.""

Fine, then say "I was just never interested in travelling", and don't try to blame it on other people and class differences. That's just bullshit. "Oh, travel is for rich folks and their pampered children."

"WTF is she trying to say?"

I think the period after 'from college' is probably not the correct punctuation. (A hazard with transcriptions.) It should probably be a comma, and there's an implied 'some' in 'some kids'.

The overall thought she's expressing, that travel is for the Drones Club, is bad enough without picking too much on the quality of a transcription from a convoluted spoken sentence.

With due respect to people defending the lack of passport, I think this is like a forensics case, made entirely more appropriate by the fact that the McCain campaign has been keeping Palin away from any opportunities for the electorate to know more about her. Just like a crime case, the evidence accumulates, and her comments and only recent obtaining of a passport is more evidence to make a case against her personality. Making this circumstantial case is never the best way to do something, but, just as with a crime, we have to get a measure of who Sarah Palin is. At some point, and I think that point was passed long ago, we cease to give her the benefit of the doubt.

This is unfortunate, because people will seize on some of these circumstantial points and make overbroad extensions ("you don't have a passport? I'm going to start calling you Sarah!"). But focussing on each fragment of information and giving it the benefit of the doubt ends up becoming a patchwork defense of Palin and the process that chose her, regardless of the intentions of the people giving that benefit of the doubt.

I don't think Palin's comments are clear evidence of what she's being accused of here. I don't think you can infer just from that that she's totally incurious about the world outside of America.

Not just from that, perhaps. But it's not the only evidence available.

Hilzoy's point here is not about Palin's lack of curiosity so much as it is about Palin's reverse snobbery. I speak with some authority on that subject:

I'm not one of those who maybe came from a background of, you know, kids who perhaps were good athletes. Their parents get them a baseball glove and give them a bat and say, "go try out for Little League." No, I've read all my life. In fact I've only read two books on sports. I was not a part of, I guess, that athletic culture.

You know: that culture of people who are fit and coordinated. Chubby and clumsy is sooo much better:)

--TP

Apart from the lack of travel, what do we know about Palin that let's us know that she's not curious about the world? I'd like to know that.

I'm asking because I took her comments to mean that she never had the resources and the time to travel before now. I can understand that.

I actually thought that was one of the few instances she sounded pretty honest in the Couric interview.

Tony P., I can totally relate.

"I am now in my early 30s, and I have no particular desire to travel."

And that's fine, but you're not running for VP. It's a different issue for someone to seek the second highest office of the country and not have had any experience outside of it. She's (hopefully not) going to be partly responsible for managing our place in the world, it would be nice if she'd seen how some of it worked first hand. It's not that backpacking through Europe makes one a foreign policy expert, but having enough curiosity about the world to go visit seems a reasonable prerequisite.

Apart from the lack of travel, what do we know about Palin that let's us know that she's not curious about the world?

Wasn't her comments in the Couric interview suggestive?

Elisa, Aaron, and Jimmyjohn: in reading this piece, I was bearing in mind the (relatively few) other things that Palin has said, about both other countries and people for whom she has disdain (e.g., community organizers.)

On foreign policy, it's not just that she has not travelled. It's that she seems to be astonishingly ignorant about the rest of the world. (And I took this to be Brown's point as well.) You can not have travelled and still read enough to have some idea what people in other countries are like.

On disdain: well, I thought that part was pretty clear from what she said, and again, from elsewhere.

You're right to say that it's not entirely clear that we can get this from that one quote. But I don't see why the rest of what she has said has to be off limits.

I think this is a bit unfair. I see nothing in the quote to indicate lack of curiosity. She's saying she didn't have the means or time to travel. That's all.

It's easy to say, as byrningman does, that you only need gumption to travel. But it's not true. Food is not free. Neither are airplane tickets, or bus tickets, or even the cheapest lodgings, etc. You do need money, at least some. And if you have enough to do that, even though it may not be much, it's easy to overlook the fact that others don't.

Elisa, Aaron, and Jimmyjohn: did you SEE the interview, her tone? she delivers the above comments with a sneering, sarcastic tone that clearly indicates she is mocking those who "went off to travel the world."

i don't care if this is the only evidence of the world view that Charles Brown (good grief!) assumes Palin has--its more than enough.

I never knew that being from a small town meant you couldn't have any interest in the world, or that it was INHERENTLY A BAD THING if your parents ever gave you something as extravagant as, say, A PASSPORT.

what about someone born to two generations of Admirals, who travels the world that way? what does Gov. Palin think of some lucky, to-the-manner-born kid like...young John McCain?

But I am quite sick of the idea that if one doesn't have much interest in traveling, that necessarily means one is "incurious."

Incurious about the world, maybe, barring financial or other barriers. If I told you that I never ate anything but microwave pizzas- not because Im not interested in cooking, but because I can't afford fancy tools and ingredients, you might well conclude that Im not that interested in (or curious about) cooking. Because it turns out it's just not prohibitively difficult or expensive.

It's easy to say, as byrningman does, that you only need gumption to travel. But it's not true. Food is not free. Neither are airplane tickets, or bus tickets, or even the cheapest lodgings, etc. You do need money, at least some.

That might apply to a poor person, but I dont see how it applies to the Palins- they seem to have led a comfortable middle-class life. Which means they might have had to make choices: new snowmobile or trip to Japan? And choosing the snowmobile is fine. Claiming that you had to choose the snowmobile because you weren't born on third base is dishonest.

Well, we can add in the pride with which the Gingrich crowd strutted their incuriousity about other countries as a way of flaunting their anti-elitist, anti-cosmopolitan crap in the 1990s.

Dick Armey (how'd he get a visa with a name like that?) went to Europe and came back whining about how much he hated it.

The only way Republican politicians feel safe traveling is after a carpet-bombing and a thorough strafing have taken care of the foreign elements.

Then they make a beeline for the cheeseburger hut and the hookers and come back with a dose.

Which is why they always hold press conferences after trips abroad and extoll the American lead in antibiotics.

Remember, too, that Palin is casting aspersions on the oddly complected Barack Obama and his mysterious foreign provenance.

She's not as dumb as she sounds.

But she's pretty dumb all the same.

I think I disagree with this. First, b/c Palin was actually married (and from what I've heard based on the birthdate of her first child, pregnant) young, while just out of college, right? So it's entirely possible that the option of travel really and truly just never entered her mind, especially if she grew up in a family where that kind of thing is for fancy people.

It really isn't that unusual for people to just simply not even consider the possibility, or to have, at best, a kind of idle, "yeah, it would be nice to go to Paris someday" feeling if they really feel like that sort of thing is completely out of their league. It doesn't mean a lack of curiosity, necessarily. (I do think she's incurious, b/c of her obvious ignorance about American politics given that she's a governor, but not b/c of the passport thing, necessariliy.)

Her small and incurious mind is indeed one of the most dangerous aspects of her personality. Her extremist religious views are another, and that's one the MSM hasn't even scratched the surface of.

I think Palin had her first child at 25. So younger than some, but it's not like she got pregnant in high school.

It really isn't that unusual for people to just simply not even consider the possibility, or to have, at best, a kind of idle, "yeah, it would be nice to go to Paris someday" feeling if they really feel like that sort of thing is completely out of their league. It doesn't mean a lack of curiosity, necessarily.

I think people keep picking at that word 'curiousity', as if someone were suggesting Palin had never wondered what Paris is like. She just wasn't interested enough to go there, whatever mild sacrifices it might have involved. It's the difference between idle wondering and being curious enough to actually go find out.

And it's fine that she made other choices. But claiming that she hadn't travelled because it wasn't an option available to common salt-of-the-earth folk such as herself is complete crap.

Bottom line:

A normal person would say they haven't traveled and broadened their horizons because of life's vicissitudes.

But, they would hope their kids might have the opportunity to attend an elite university and maybe have the freedom to see the world and experience other cultures.

Not these people.

They are small and they want all of us to stay small.

Black guy goes to Harvard: not achievement --- that's elitism.

It's white trash penis envy. Screw her and them.

P.S. Normal people, of course, wouldn't use the word "vicissitudes". That's a big, elitist word. Normal people would send their kids to a charter school or religious school where they could be taught that people who use the word "vicissitudes" probably engage in sex before marriage and would refuse to bomb the crap out of anyone who didn't submit to the flat tax.

That Sarah Palin's daughter enages in sex before marriage is one of life's vicissitudes, but only for conservatives, who James Dobson has decided are only human.

Only, for sure.

You know, there are a lot of other things that bother me a LOT about Palin. Oh, how to begin? The cringe worthy interviews, her inability to put together a thoughtful answer, her religious extremism (that really should be number one in the list for me), her mixing of the personal with the political, the fact that she accepted to be a VP candidate when she was obviously not ready at all to be one... Everything, really. But not this quote. I can see the argument against it, though. Definitely.

Like hilzoy, I come from that culture.

But when I was traveling around Europe after college in the spring of 1987, I met a couple guys from Washington state in what was then Yugoslavia. They were, unlike me, small-town kids who didn't come from the kind of family that had the money to help their children travel overseas. But they were traveling around Europe on money they'd earned doing a job which, while tough and unpleasant, was famously well-paying.

They'd spent a few summers cleaning fish.

On a boat.

In Alaska.

Fine, then say "I was just never interested in travelling", and don't try to blame it on other people and class differences. That's just bullshit.

Right on.

Or, just say "I didn't have the money or time". A-OK with me.

Lots of people who don't have a lot of money travel, and they do it without having mommy and daddy hand it to them on a plate.

They do it because they want to, and so they find a way. They get jobs, they save their nickels, and they go.

If that's not your thing, fine. Your choice.

Just leave the culture wars bullsh*t out of it, please.

The most disturbing and disappointing thing to me in this election was the nomination of Sarah Palin for VP. Not because she's unqualified, although she is, but because her whole reason for being on the ticket is to keep this god-damned, us vs them culture war crap alive and kicking.

I hope this -- Palin's nomination -- bites the Republicans in the ass good and hard, because until it does they will keep going back to the same poison well.

Every time the woman speaks, it's another 1,000 spins around the karma wheel for Lee Atwater.

Thanks -

Add me to the group that feels at least a bit insulted by the Charles Brown piece which seems to me to equate not being interested in world travel specifically with being incurious in general. I suspect that Mr. Brown would be equally insulted if I said that he was incurious because he is not interested in the details of how the national electric grid works, why California's electricity deregulation effort failed so badly, the long term consequences of Carter's decision to commit the US to only a once-through nuclear fuel cycle, etc (and I apologize if, in fact, he is curious enough about that subject to have spent years acquiring such expertise).

That said, I want candidates for President and Vice-President to have an intense intellectual interest in something related to policy.

While reading the quote from Brown's piece, the example that immediately came to mind for me was George Baily (It's a Wonderful Life).

My belief that Palin is incurious comes, as it does for others, from not only this snotty comment, but from her seeming (willful) ignorance at every turn. If I ever see her speak intelligently without the aid of a teleprompter, I may revise my opinion. Let's just say I'm not holding my breath while I wait for that moment.

The rest of the quote:

The way that I have understood the world is through education, through books, through mediums that have provided me a lot of perspective on the world.

OK, that's cool; I'm an avid reader too. My personal bibliography numbers in the thousands, over ninety percent of it nonfiction. I subscribe to some pretty heavy magazines, too. And I'm, like, nobody - I'm just some joker in the Midwest who pays attention to stuff. Wouldn't begin to presume that I am qualified to be the Veep. Which, by the way, has to imply qualification to be Presnit as well, or somebody's unclear on the concept.

So I'd like to see a video tour of her house. Where are all the books and magazines? Where does she do her reading? And where in any of her public utterances is there the slightest evidence that she even reads National Geographic?

Damn right she's incurious.

Now that Palin has announced that she has come to her understanding of the world "through education, through books," I want to see her (many) college transcripts. And at some point, I'd like her next interviewer to ask her to name the three most important and influential books she's read in the last 5 years. And the Bible doesn't count. When she stumbles on that one, she can be asked simply to name three books she has read in teh last 5 years.

When she stumbles on that one, she can be asked simply to name three books she has read in teh last 5 years.

And if one of them is Left Behind, she has to name three more.

just you and me
Eat fudge bananna swirl
Just you and me
We'll travel 'round the world
Just you and me
Punk rock girl

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