13 Jun 2011

Murphy and Friedman Support Palin!

Politics 26 Comments

All I mean is, David Friedman has pooh-poohed those going nuts over Palin’s Paul Revere remarks, just like I did.

Friedman makes a point that I thought too at the time, but I didn’t dwell on it because the whole thing is so silly. Yet since Friedman is getting beaten up in his comments, I want to endorse his (modest) point: The people laughing their tushies off about this episode, would have you believe that Sarah Palin thought that Paul Revere was trying to warn the British in order to help the British. But of course, that’s not what she was saying. She meant, he was warning the British the same way I was warning Krugman not to turn his back on an Austrian. I wasn’t actually a Keynesian spy in that video.

I know if I don’t explicitly say this, people are going to get mad in the comments. So here you go folks: No, I don’t think Palin had in mind the subtlety that Revere got captured and then told the British not to mess with the colonists. I personally had never heard that before, so probably neither did Palin (unless she had just taken a tour or something).

But what is so ridiculous about this whole thing, is that I think what the critics are really saying is something like, “Can you believe it?! Sarah Palin can’t repeat the 15%-true fable we all grew up with! It’s as if she said Santa Claus lives at the end of the rainbow, when everybody knows Santa Claus lives in the North Pole. No way would she make a good president.”

Let me also endorse Friedman’s view that you shouldn’t be criticizing Palin (or Obama or Biden or Dan Quayle…) for their “moronic” public statements, unless you’ve given 30 radio interviews yourself. I have said really dumb stuff on the air.

Or take this example. During my Congressional testimony, Rep. Jim Jordan couldn’t subtract 1913 from 2011 (or maybe it was 2008) on the fly. In other words, he was trying to figure out how much the Fed had done in such-and-such years, and he stumbled on the math problem. The thing was, I was trying to do the number too, and I couldn’t. I actually got concerned that he was going to ask me for the number, and I had even prepared a joke to explain that I wasn’t going to do it and risk embarrassing myself on camera.

So: Are we to conclude that, “Oh my gosh Robert Murphy is such a moron he doesn’t know how to subtract 1913 from 2008?!?!” Well maybe some of my interventionist critics will do so in the comments, but I think my math skills are just fine. In fact, precisely because it was so easy, I was choking. If Jordan had asked me to briefly explain Godel’s incompleteness theorem, I would have been much more comfortable at that moment.

Another point, which will probably sound sexist but I don’t think it is: I think the beauty pageant thing is relevant here, but not in the way her critics intend. Rather, I think a lot of pretty girls growing up found it was more advantageous to act ditsy (whether subconsciously or not).

I’ve said this before but I’ll repeat it: The “classic” example of Palin’s moronitude actually showed that she is crafty. When Katie Couric was trying to trap her and asked what newspapers and magazines she read, Palin said “all of them, any of them.” Most people concluded, “A ha! Palin doesn’t even know a single newspaper.”

I don’t think that’s what happened. I think she realized she was stuck (since she doesn’t regularly read newspapers or magazines–a practice I share with her) and she decided to just fold the hand and move on. If she had said, “The New York Times,” then Kouric might have said, “Oh, what columnists in particular?” or, “Oh, what recent events have you been following?” I think Palin knew she was dead on this point, and wanted to just take her lumps and move on, rather than digging deeper.

So in conclusion: I think Sarah Palin knows that Paul Revere supposedly warned the colonists “the Redcoats are coming the Redcoats are coming!”, and I think Sarah Palin could name a newspaper and a magazine. Just like I know how to subtract 1913 from 2008.

26 Responses to “Murphy and Friedman Support Palin!”

  1. Bob Roddis says:

    One of my favorite pastimes is mocking people who don’t know the true history of the depression.


    What could be more pitiful?

    • david (not henderson) says:


  2. Joseph Fetz says:

    Dang, Bob. Why are you beating this thing up so much, we all say stupid stuff- it happens. But, you could have spared us the bathroom scene. The first time it was funny in a ridiculous sort of way, but on second viewing it is almost scary… Actually, it was still funny. By the way, I also stumbled on the math and 95 popped into my head. I was thinking cut 5 from 100, but it was really cut… Oh wait, that’s right. But, when I was doing it in my head I could not get the year 2011 out of my head, so I got flustered. Then again, I am sitting at home on the computer when that was happening, and you were sitting in front of the critters. I am not exactly “aces” in front of the cameras, so I can relate.

  3. david (not henderson) says:

    When one of my old profs, David Laidler, would make a mathematical error in the course of a lecture, he used to excuse himself by saying he “couldn’t do algebra in public.”

    There also is an old adage to the effect that “some errors require a high IQ”. We’ve had all sorts of smart people govern us for a century or two – and look how well that worked out. Character is more important than specific knowledge.

    Finally, in reality, Palin is being criticized not for not knowing things or not being smart but rather for not knowing what the liberal intelligentsia (thinks) they know and for holding unorthodox views which the elites believe are self evidently wrong.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      Don’t ya think the elites suspect in their hearts that they are wrong which is why they don’t ever want a debate (speaking of ducking debates).

      • david (not henderson) says:

        As Mark Steyn has said on occasion, the left doesn’t want to win the debate, they want to cancel it.

        Also, seemingly relevant and from Steyn:

        “… you could point out the ironies forever, and the other side wouldn’t care. Because they don’t want to win the debate, they want to win, period. … The quality of your argument is only important if you want to win by persuasion. But it’s irrelevant if you want to win by intimidation.”

      • Joseph Fetz says:

        Sorry, Bob R. I don’t even like to think about the sociopathic mind, it only reminds me of the reality of my surroundings.

  4. Daniel Kuehn says:

    1. I don’t know if your parenthetical is an allusion to this, but apparently she had just been on a tour. Andrew Sulllivan shares some interesting info on it here: http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/06/behind-the-paul-revere-hilarity.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+andrewsullivan%2FrApM+%28The+Daily+Dish%29

    2. You can add me to the list of you and Friedman. Soon after this happened I wrote a post defending her too. Just because some of us don’t like her doesn’t mean we’re at the edge of our seats waiting to criticize her. I think this was probably a slip of the tongue more than it was an incomplete rendition of a more nuanced history. Whatever it was, it wasn’t anything to get fussy about.

    3. The woman still concerns me and I still don’t think she’s all that intelligent. Slip of the tongues and spur of the moment math is one thing. If you can’t name news sources you read at the drop of hat, it’s probably because you aren’t motivated to read the news on a regular basis. That’s not a good sign for someone that wants to be president. The resignation bugs me tremendously too. The only thing she appears to be consistently dedicated to is her own fame and fortune. No thanks.

    • Jon O. says:

      Maybe she has her own, overly literal, take on Jefferson’s aphorism:

      “The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers. “

    • Bob Roddis says:

      DK, you and I may have something in common. I don’t quite trust Mrs. Palin either to run my life.

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        To run my life? That goes without saying.

        To be the chief executive of my democratic republic? There are many I would accept for that job that I wouldn’t countenance running my life.

        In fact, I wouldn’t want anyone to run my life. Unfortunately, there’s a particular woman who has different thoughts on the matter. Fortunately, though, during her tenure running my life she hasn’t done all that bad of a job.

  5. Blackadder says:

    I don’t have a problem with Palin’s original statement. Anyone who does a lot of extemporaneous speaking is going to flub things now and again. What bugs me is people arguing that the flub wasn’t actually a flub.

    • david (not henderson) says:
      • RG says:

        That same Hotair article purports that Al Gore did not say he “invented” the internet and uses a subjective critique of a snopes author as reference, so your validity is still in question. I believe you’re correct, but you must use a better source.

        Al Gore: “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.”

        That is not out of context.


      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        I am convinced it was actually much more convoluted than a flub or a gaffe – it was a Gettier problem: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettier_problem

        • RG says:

          On which side does the Gettier problem lie – on Palin’s or her critics’ account?

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            I’m not sure I follow.

            For the reasons that Friedman provides she’s technically right. I seriously doubt Palin had justification for making that true claim, though – hence the Gettier problem.

            Even if she didn’t have justification I’m with Bob that this is a non-issue.

            • RG says:

              Her statement went against the conventional historical account. The conventional historical account, the Longfellow version, seems to have a Gettier problem of its own.

              I wish she would have made some similar statement that challenged the huge Gettier problem engulfing the War Between the States.

              There was a player in the NBA finals with a Lincoln tattoo on his neck. Little does he know that Lincoln would have rather seen him lynched by Southerners or shipped back to Africa than with full American citizenship.

    • RFN says:

      What was the flub? Paul Revere, himself, tells the story. Did he flub, too? A real flub is telling the Austrians that they speak Austrian. Who is so freaking dumb that they would say that? Who is so freaking provincial that he doesn’t know the language of the country that he is speaking in at the time?

      • MamMoTh says:

        George W. Bush, Dumbo in chief, said latin americans speak latin.

  6. Blackadder says:

    Palin says the Revere “warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells, and making sure as he rode through town to send those warning shots and bells.”

    Does Revere’s letter say that he rang any bells to warn the British? No.

    Does Revere’s letter say that he fired any warning shots to warn the British? No.

    Does Revere’s letter say that he rode through town to warn the British? No.

    In her follow up interview, Palin says of Revere that “[p]art of his ride was to warn the British.” Is that true? No.

    It’s odd that so many people think the fact Revere told the British what he had done after he was captured proves that Palin was actually right. To me, it sounds like arguing that Obama was right when he said he’d visited fiftyeight states, since there are fiftysomething states out there.

  7. Robert Wenzel says:

    “Or take this example. During my Congressional testimony, Rep. Jim Jordan couldn’t subtract 1913 from 2011 (or maybe it was 2008) on the fly. In other words, he was trying to figure out how much the Fed had done in such-and-such years, and he stumbled on the math problem. The thing was, I was trying to do the number too, and I couldn’t.either”

    I figured it out.

    • RG says:

      I did too. It’s 96 (you can’t count 1920 and 1921).

  8. Brandon says:

    I admit, I had to Wiki the Paul Revere story because I couldn’t remember any of the specifics (none of which are true, apparently) and I have a degree in history. I’m not losing sleep over it, though. That’s why we write things down.