Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pity Party II

Sarah Palin got a prank phone call yesterday from Montreal's Masked Avengers posing as French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The conversation went on for about six minutes. It was recorded and broadcast around the world. The pranksters said all sort of outrageous things, and Palin did not catch on.

The conversation revealed a lot about Palin. She was clearly starstruck, giggling and gushing over the impostor. She apparently does not have a professional voice and persona for conversations with world leaders: it's Sarah the hockey mom all the way. But most off all, I noted that this woman, who rapidly rejects what she sees as offensive statements from her enemies (e.g., the media, political opponents), lacks a nonsense detector for those who seem to agree with her or those who flatter her. That does not bode well as an indicator of her judgment.

Nonethless I feel sorry for her because:
  • Her staff is so incompetent that they put her on the phone with the impostor without checking to see if the call was legitimate or, apparently, checking with the campaign leadership about it.
  • She answers her phone just like I answer mine: "Hi, this is Sarah" (except I use my first name, not hers). If the President of France called, I might or might not have the good sense to do different.
  • Despite copious clues that the call was a hoax, it is hard to imagine who would get up the gumption to contradict, challenge, correct or hang up on someone you think might be the President of France.
  • Pranks derive their humor from making another person look stupid and feel stupid about themselves, and I have always found intentional humiliation of another person hard to laugh at.

The marginal value of what we could learn from that call was not worth its price in mean-spiritedness and incivility.

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