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Sarah Palin, North Korea and the Ego of Ignorance

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Feeling a bit under the weather, I haven't blogged as much as usual this week, but I can always count on Sarah Palin to pull me back in...

Yes, Sarah Palin, the most amazing living American, who, appearing on Glenn Beck's radio show Wednesday -- where she knows she won't be asked any tough questions and where she can pretty much say whatever she wants without being challenged -- made a rather significant gaffe:

Co-host: How would you handle a situation like the one that just developed in North Korea? [...]

Palin: But obviously, we've got to stand with our North Korean allies. We're bound to by treaty --

Co-host: South Korean.

Palin: Eh, yeah. And we're also bound by prudence to stand with our South Korean allies, yes.

Now, Think Progress' Alex Seitz-Wald is right that "malapropisms can and should be forgiven for frequent public speakers." Everyone makes mistakes. Think about Joe Biden, for example, who frequently needs to extract his foot from his mouth.

But Biden's problem is that he is sometimes too honest (for a politician) or just says embarrassing things. In Palin's case, her problem is that she's lazy and unserious. Time and time again, what she reveals is that she doesn't think, let alone think seriously, about... well, about pretty much anything other than the marketing of the Palin brand.

Think back, for example, to that Katie Couric interview during the '08 campaign. As I put it back then:

[H]ere's Palin, running for vice president, on the national stage, saying silly and stupid things and at times unable even to answer Couric's questions in any coherent, let alone meaningful, way, and showing a complete lack of experience, engagement, expertise, and even basic understanding of the issues.

Whether it was her comment that she had foreign-policy experience because Alaska is close to Russia, her general incoherence in response to any and every policy question, her inability to name a single Supreme Court case, her cluelessness on the separation of church and state, her ridiculous claim that she'd been "hearing about" Biden's speeches since she was in the second grade, or her inability to name a single newspaper or magazine she reads, she exhibited not a tendency to commit malapropisms but a general ignorance about policy, politics, and, well, pretty much the entirety of the world around her.

Is it any wonder that Palin later accused Couric of "badgering" her, even though all Couric did was ask some fairly innocuous questions and, treading softly, give Palin every opportunity not to embarrass herself? Is it any wonder Palin recently said she won't "waste time" with Couric if she runs in '12?

Nothing has changed. The Sarah Palin of '08 is the Sarah Palin of '10. The only difference is that her brand is bigger -- with a couple of best-selling (ghost-written) books, a (phony) reality TV show, an even bigger ego, a place of prominence in the Republican Party, and the tantalizing allure of a presidential run.

So back to her latest gaffe. Should we make anything of it? On its own, maybe not -- I suppose anyone can confuse North and South Korea in this context, and she probably knows that the North is the totalitarian one (surely she knows at least that?) -- but it's just one more piece of evidence, and a vivid reminder, that her public utterances are really just a string of shallow talking points and ignorant assertions; that is, that she speaks without thinking, and without ever having thought about what she's talking about (including on rather serious issues like this one).

Is it any wonder the vast majority of Americans, including no less an authority than George W. Bush himself, think she's unqualified to be president?

Cross-posted from The Reaction.

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