Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Robert J. Elisberg Headshot

Speak Loudly and Carry a Big Shtick

Posted: Updated:

I have this fear that if Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Sharron Angle ever got together in the same room, it would create a Black Hole, and the universe would be sucked into the vortex vacuum. The only thing left behind would be a cup of tea and three lumps of sugar. It almost happened this past week, but fortunately what they each said took place on different stages, and the world was spared.

Sometimes, I wonder if Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Sharron Angle even listen to what they say. Or care. Rather, it often just seems that they feel compelled to simply blurt out anything for the sheer sake of being heard. Indeed, it doesn't even matter if these thoughts contradict even the previous sentence, since retention is not a goal. Just saying words. Especially if the words are critical. If it's critical about Barack Obama -- Yahtzee!

(While I know this sounds like hyperbole, consider Ms. Palin's response when asked what Supreme Court decisions she disagreed with: "There's, of course -- in the great history of America rulings, there have been rulings, that's never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So, you know, going through the history of America, there would be, there would be others but... " Okay, honestly, you couldn't analyze that even if you were Sigmund Freud.)

It's not that they give womankind a bad name -- which must be a cringing embarrassment to all bright and thoughtful women everywhere -- but that they too often give a bad name to what's bright and thoughtful about the human lifesource.

Okay, in fairness, anyone can "mis-speak," like when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that iPads and iPhones were "built in the United States of America," only to have his spokesman clarify his words by back-pedaling ("Senator McCain is aware they were designed but not assembled in the U.S.") and hoping no one understands what "built in" means. Or like when Mike Huckabee slammed Natalie Portman: "One of the things that's troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts... ," only to release a clarification by backpedaling (that his comments weren't an "attack" or "slam") and hoping no one understands what "troubling" and "boast" mean. Or when Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) was quoted in The Weekly Standard about civil rights in the Deep South during the 1960s: "I just don't remember it being that bad," only to clarify that... well, you know. Hoping no one remembered lynchings, shootings and brutal beatings.

So, people misspeak. It happens. That's why God invented the clarification. And short attention spans. And prayer. ("Dear God, please let them buy my clarification.") It's when words burble indiscriminately from your mouth without connection to known reality, however, that's another matter entirely.

That's why some things become near-impossible to respond to, when they're near-impossible to comprehend. Where do you even start? Just keeping your head from exploding is a moral victory. How, after all, do you respond to someone who quit as governor halfway through her first term -- calling Barack Obama "inexperienced"? Or someone who's found her inner-Joe McCarthy asking to investigate the "anti-American Congress," calling for Barack Obama to "apologize"? Or a candidate who spent an entire election avoiding all questions from the press, avoiding the slightest confrontation -- proudly calling that election, "a rough and tumble arena where you challenge in the public square the other's opinions"?

This isn't a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Most pots in this condition would be too embarrassed to call the kettle anything.

No, this is closer to the old joke about the gall of the child who killed his parents and then begged the court for mercy because he was an orphan.

This would be like if Sen. John Ensign (R-AZ) slept with one of his staffers, had his parents pay hush money to the women and her husband who's also a staffer, and then years later announced he wasn't running for re-election because "I have to put my family first." Oh, wait... sorry.

This would be like if Newt Gingrich, who was married three times, including one affair with a House staffer while still married, and sanctioned by the House for ethics violation, would be lecturing at the current Faith and Freedom Coalition which promotes "integrity in government," "high moral values" and "Christian principles." Oh, wait...sorry.

So... I don't know what you say to all that. I don't know what you say to people who operate on the expectation that if they open their mouths and any words dribble out, others should believe them.

I do know, however, that when people open their mouths without concern to the words that randomly escape and take actions that directly contradict the very core of their life, what it says is not so much that they don't care what they say or do -- but they don't care about you, because they have no respect for your ability to understand exactly what they're doing. And assume that you don't care if they spit on you.

But then, if you go to a tea party, sometimes you have to take your lumps.

Register To Vote