As young Bostonians, we often heard the Longfellow poem; “Listen, my children, and you shall hear the midnight ride of Paul Revere…” invoking the image of Paul Revere as a courageous hero riding his horse at break neck speed through the dark night, down wooded paths to Lexington and Concord, the British army fast on his heels. “One if by land, two if by sea” were the instructions he is said to have given to the Old North Church in Boston, whose job it was to light lanterns to warn the colonists of the approaching British Army. Revere holds a mythical romantic place in all our New England hearts. So I was particularly amused by Sarah Palin’s most recent gaffe. Her perspective on this most historic event is a bit unusual.
Palin, currently on her “One Nation” bus tour, is traversing the country in a tricked-out RV fit for The Dixie Chicks. Last week as she was visiting historic sites in Boston a reporter questioned her on Paul Revere. As the footage shows, there’s an uncomfortable pause followed by a “deer in the head lights” look (similar to when Katie Couric asked what newspapers Palin regularly read). Then came this rambling nonsensical response;
“He who warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells, and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”
Palin often starts sentences speaking in Old English; “He who warned…” Who talks like that? It sounds as if the writers from the HBO series Deadwood gave her diction lessons.
Not to mention she missed the most important part of the story. Paul Revere’s purpose was to warn the colonists (specifically leaders Adams and Hancock), not the other way around. Why would he be warning the British? It doesn’t make any sense.
The most obvious question; why doesn’t Palin hire a well-educated assistant who properly preps her on information she may need to know, before she visits a city as historically important as Boston? It’s particularly insulting considering she has a giant replica of the Constitution on the side of her bus, positioned right next to a huge signature of her name – which seems to evoke the feeling she actually signed the document. Perhaps this is a smart move on her part, because a big part of her constituency probably believes or wishes that could be true.
I would actually forgive Palin if she would just fess up and admit she made a mistake. Instead she goes on Fox News, and in her attempt to defend herself, instead digs the hole deeper. Even Fox host Chris Wallace challenged her; “You realize that you messed up about Paul Revere, don’t you?” In complete denial, she replies. “You know what? I didn’t mess up about Paul Revere. Here is what Paul Revere did. He warned the Americans that the British were coming (ok she has got this part right now), the British were coming, and they were going to try take our arms and we got to make sure that we were protecting ourselves and shoring up all of ammunitions and our firearms so that they couldn’t take it.” Ok, better (albeit weird) answer, but still missing the most important part about Adams and Hancock. She could have skated by at least acknowledging Adams part (many New Englanders think Hancock is just a building in downtown Boston).
Strangely, she seems to be tying an anti-gun control message into her convoluted explanation, implying; “don’t take away our guns because Paul Revere wouldn’t like it!”
To make matters even worse, one of her staffers then went onto Wikipedia to edit new versions of the Paul Revere story to match her version of the event. Why am I not surprised that Palin would prefer to re-write history than admit she was wrong?
Palin reminds me of a high school student who hasn’t read the book, yet insists on arguing with the teacher that she deserves a good grade on her senseless paper just because she took the time to write it down. When she gets caught, she then tries to cheat. Her disdain for the “main stream media” is a big part of this spoiled child persona, where she refuses to grant interviews to anyone who isn’t on contract with Fox News because she knows she’s an intellectual light weight and would get skewered.
I believe a segment of America likes Palin because they see themselves in her complete lack of respect and interest in learning. She frequently scoffs at the “liberal elite”, which is a code name for educated, thoughtful people who investigate and learn the facts before spouting-off. It’s probably true that most Americans don’t know who Paul Revere was (another reason our education system needs serious overhaul), but we should and need to expect more from our leaders.
It’s particularly insulting to be ignorant of American history when you are traversing the country claiming to a patriot fighting for American ideals (and hinting at a Presidential bid). As the saying goes; “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Accurate historical perspective is a crucial attribute for any leader.
As I’ve written before, I don’t believe Palin will run for President. She is using her celebrity to sell books and boost ratings on her Fox TV reality show. Fox knows that too, or she wouldn’t be on their payroll now due to broadcasting rules. With Palin it’s all about the money, and always has been. She is addicted to celebrity. From her beginnings as a local TV anchor, she has stumbled upon a readymade rock star life style, thanks to John McCain plucking her out of Alaskan obscurity (another guy who didn’t do his homework and failed). If Palin were serious about her political career, she would have finished her term as Governor of Alaska, taken some night courses on American History and signed up for a subscription to the Wall Street Journal. Instead she’s traveling around the country, promoting herself as a patriot (paid for by Fox) and eating pizza with Donald Trump, another presidential candidate imposter using political jibber jabber to shore up his bank account.
Regardless of our political leanings, we should ask more from our leaders. My husband likes to give the Doctor analogy (for almost everything). “Would you want your doctor to be the woman who slept through class, had other people write her papers, and only took the time to show up for graduation ceremony so she could accept her diploma?
I still believe in the American dream; if you work hard enough you can achieve anything. If Palin really wanted to succeed, she would take the time and effort (and dare I say, invest in some hard work) into studying and learning about this great country. And maybe she could use her powers for good, and convince the rest of the Tea Party how important it is to invest in our crumbling American educational system.