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December 23, 2010
The Palin 'Glaring Gaffe' That Wasn't
Word to Yahoo News: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
A "glaring gaffe" suggests an epic blunder like Joe Biden urging a wheelchair bound man to stand up. More worrisome is the one national intelligence director James Clapper's made on live-TV this week when he displayed total ignorance of a London terrorist plot that even ABC's Diane Sawyer was hip to.
To balance the political scales, however, Yahoo embedded in its lead article on Clapper an allusion to a presumably comparable screw-up by Sarah Palin.
"Palin gaffe makes North Korea an ally" reads the link line to an article with the same headline. Yahoo author Saul Relative, in fact, claims that Palin's remarks may well have damaged her "credibility as a serious contender for a presidential bid in 2012."
The seriousness of Palin's error hinges on the meaning of the word "sanction." Said Palin to Glenn Beck, "We're not having a lot of faith that the White House is going to come out with a strong enough policy to sanction what it is that North Korea is going to do."
Aha, says the Yahoo reporter, the United States almost never "sanctions" anything North Korea does. Rather, it "has issued sanctions" against North Korea.
A moment later, Palin did say, "Obviously, we've got to stand with our North Korean allies." The reporter suggests that the two statements in combination testify to Palin's "ill grasp of important matters and even poorer grasp of geography."
This alleged "glaring gaffe" hinges, of course, on Palin's use of the word "sanction." Although the reporter scolds her for misusing it, she did no such thing. As is fairly common knowledge, and as my dictionary verifies, one of the two ordinary meanings of "sanction" as a verb is "to impose a sanction or penalty" upon someone.
As to the "ally" remark, Beck quickly corrected Palin, and she just as quickly corrected herself, elaborating that the U.S. and South Korea were allies by treaty and that we were also "bound by prudence to stand with our South Korean allies, yes." This was a slip of the tongue, easily erased, that would have gone unnoticed had any other politician made it.
If Yahoo wanted to do a little serious political reporting, it might have inquired as to how chief counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, who was sitting with Clapper during his brain freeze, got his job.
A former CIA operative and advisor to Barack Obama, Brennan first came to public attention in April 2008 when one of the employees of his small consulting company was caught illegally rifling Obama's passport files.
Maybe, he was trying to figure out just how many of America's 57 states our president had visited.