Shall I Refudiate Thee To A Summer’s Day?

Max Fisher at The Atlantic:

The so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” is neither a mosque (it’s a YMCA-like community center that includes a prayer space) nor is it located at Ground Zero (it’s a couple of blocks away), but that hasn’t stopped it from generating a degree of controversy in New York. Think it couldn’t get crazy enough? Enter Sarah Palin. On Sunday, Palin tweeted:

The former governor quickly deleted the tweet, replacing it with this:

Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too realless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®Sarah Palin

On Twitter and blogs, the criticism against Palin’s original (and even replacement) tweet quickly mounted. Palin gradually responded, first to the criticism of her implicit argument and second to her use of the non-word “refudiate.” Her use of “misunderestimate” and “wee-wee’d up” are references to Presidents Bush and Obama, respectively

Maggie Haberman at Politico:

While a recent poll showed a majority of New Yorkers oppose the plan to build the mosque built near Ground Zero, an aide in Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s City Hall hit back at Palin, first tweeting “@SarahPalinUSA mind your business.”

The aide, policy hand Andrea Batista Schlesinger, followed that up with:

“@SarahPalinUSA whose hearts? Racist hearts?”

Schlesinger deleted both tweets shortly after posting them.

“Andrea was only speaking for herself, and she has the right to her own opinions,” said Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser.

Schlesinger posted threee new tweets Sunday evening, explaining why she wrote, and took down, her Palin response:

“Deleted post bc I regretted curt response. But fact is, I believe this city belongs to everyone – and no one more than another”

“Unlike @SarahPalinUSA, I was born here grew up here. Was showing off to a visitor today – look at how beautiful and diverse my city is.”

“I felt pain of 9/11, the trauma. I got through it by believing in my city. Not through fear and hate.”

Bloomberg has defended the plan for the mosque, arguing that blocking it would impinge on religious freedom, and he’s denounced calls to look into the group’s funding – led by Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rick Lazio in a bid to engage his rival, Democrat Andrew Cuomo — as “un-American.”

Mark Liberman at Language Log:

The unimportant one is that the original example wasn’t a slip of the tongue, but a symptom of the fact that Ms. Palin had a blend of repudiate and refute as a well-established entry in her mental lexicon.  This is unimportant because politics is not a vocabulary contest. What’s more serious, in my opinion, is that she didn’t get set straight about the words in question by any of her advisors and friends, or for that matter by anyone at Fox. She was widely ridiculed for the error, at least in the blogosphere, and so you’d think that a functional staff would intervene to prevent future embarrassment.

The use of refudiate in today’s tweet was also noted by bloggers, and was then removed within half an hour or so, showing that someone in her entourage is on the ball. But why didn’t the first mistake get brought to her attention? This suggests that either her staff is not very efficient, or they’re afraid to bring certain kinds of problems to her attention, or both.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs:

Heh. Looks like someone caught Sarah’s little oopsie; the tweet has now been deleted. (That’s why I grabbed a screenshot.) She replaced it with this one, using the word “refute” this time and replacing “peaceful Muslims” with “peaceful New Yorkers:”

Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real

I almost hate to point it out, but “refute,” although it has the advantage of being an actual word, is still the wrong word to use in this context. But the posting and subsequent deletion of the “refudiation” tweet does establish one thing — it’s probably really Sarah Palin writing these tweets, since she used the same non-word last week on Fox News.

Jonathan Chait at TNR:

I think “refudiate” is actually a fantastic word. I propose we all start using it immediately. Palin soon thereafter replaced that message with one consisting entirely of words invented by people other than her:

Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real

That ain’t right, either –I think the word she’s looking for is “repudiate,” not “refute” — but it’s close enough.

The Bush administration understood that defining its foreign policy vision as a battle between the West and Islam was a disastrous choice and a victory for the extremists. But conservatives now are falling into the precise trap the extremists have set, which is to define all Islam as radical Islam. If you are capable of distinguishing between moderate Islam and extremist Islam, the notion of a mosque and Muslim cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero ought to be totally uncontroversial. Indeed, it is a celebration of American diversity and a symbol of what makes this country superior to its enemies.

Jim Newell at Gawker:

After Sarah Palin “coined” the word “refudiate” yesterday and compared herself to William Shakespeare, the Twitter tag “#ShakesPalin” has been offering many more noble contributions to the Humanities, is up-and-running with ads and T-shirt sales, and so on.

Andrew Sullivan:

It’s getting good out there. My faves:

To suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous liberals, or to quit halfterm, and by opposing, rake in speaking fees

Neither a thinker nor a reader be / for thought oft loses both itself and friend / and reading dulls the edge of Fox TV

“How’s all that bein’ and not bein’ workin’ out for ya?”

She’s used the word “refudiate” before – on Fox. But for some strange reason, no one noticed at the time.

James Poniewozik at Time:

Today the Washington Post published a sprawling, two-year investigation into America’s huge, complex and hard-to-fathom system of national security and intelligence. What, as of this afternoon, was the most-read article at the Post’s website? “Palin invents word ‘refudiate,’ compares self to Shakespeare.” (Thanks to Post web editor  Garance Franke-Ruta and my former colleague  Karen Tumulty for pointing this out.)

Since the election of 2008, there’s been a cottage industry of Sarah Palin media criticism. (That is, media criticism of coverage of Sarah Palin, as distinct from her own criticism of the “lamestream media.”) First, there’s the question of whether the media covers her fairly—whether coverage is biased, sexist, dismissive, credulous, &c. And then there’s simply the question of whether the media covers her too much.

Sure it does, in the sense that the press overcovers almost anything it gets excited about. But Palin’s “refudiate” comment—a controversy, almost too picayune to recap, over whether she misspoke [for “refute”? “repudiate”? both?] or whether she was engaging in Shakespearean coinage—is a perfect example of how heavily the press covers her, and how well they are rewarded for doing it.

Of course, it’s also an example of how well Palin cultivates the media’s obsession with her. Her response to most controversies—don’t steer away from a storm when you can tack into it instead—plays them for maximum heat and exposure. If her response had simply been, “So I said it—what’s the big deal?” it would have been an opportunity missed. When she instead responded that her usage was an example of the living language going back to Shakespeare, it was guaranteed both to enflame her critics (She thinks she’s Shakespeare!) and delight her fans (she beat those know-it-alls at their own game!).

[Update: Oh, and it doesn’t hurt, at a time of shrinking margins in the media, that a quickie story on the latest Palintroversy costs a hell of a lot less than a two-year national-security investigation.]

Illiterate glory slob Sarah Palin mangles English so that her brain-damaged followers can write “peoms” praising her greatness, so why can’t you liberal elitists realize her Twitter-Facebooks are better than what’s his name, Shakespeare, who wrote a pretty good Claire Danes/Leo DiCaprio movie despite being even dumber than Sarah Palin and George W. Bush combined?


And then she proved her illiterary genius by quickly thumb-typing two sonnets (?) on her Blackberry about how Othello shouldn’t get busy in Manhattan because it “stabs the heart.” O happy dagger!


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Filed under New Media, Political Figures

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