It’s never the event, it’s always the cover-up.
Mind you, it isn’t that Sarah Palin’s history lesson on Paul Revere wasn’t disastrous. It was. But the pretzel-twisting attempts to explain this away are so desperately convoluted that they speak far louder.
I hadn’t intended to write about Ms. Palin screwing up third-grade U.S. history. It was a gaffe, and it spoke for itself. (Yet again.) But the gall of trying to whitewash stupidity, that’s been too much. Because once you paint stupidity as okay, you’re heading off the ledge. The truth matters.
It’s important, however, to understand first how deeply wrong Ms. Palin was. Dragging along her child as the ever-present Palin Circus Prop, she said about Paul Revere:
"He who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringing those bells, and um, makin' sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed."
(Be honest – if you didn’t know who said that, wouldn’t you swear it was 10-year-old Piper?)
Paul Revere wasn’t “ringing those bells,” nor sending “warning shots.” The Midnight Ride was clandestine military secrecy. Not a game of “whoop ass.” Indeed, he ordered the sexton of Boston’s Old North Church to shine lanterns (y’know, the famous “One if by land” thingee) to specifically avoid attention. Revere’s destination was Sam Adams and John Hancock, to alert the leaders that British troops had begun moving to arrest them. He was travelling with William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, and when stopped by soldiers, the latter two managed to escape – a bizarre thing to do if they were “warning” that very army. Revere was taken into custody, but when later released, he continued his mission to deliver the message.
That’s the actual history, and the former half-term governor got it ridiculously wrong. But when the Apologists started up, that’s when everything spun out of control.
The Defense of Sarah Palin is so tortuous that it’s based solely on a single sentence in one letter written by Paul Revere. In it, he describes being questioned by a British solider. And then, Revere finally tells him:
“…that There would be five hundred Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the Country all the way up.”
What the Palin Apologists conveniently overlook (besides history and that Revere was lying) is what Paul Revere himself writes next: that a Major Mitchel rode over, “Clapped his pistol to my head, called me by name, & told me he was going to ask me some questions, & if I did not give him true answers, he would blow my brains out.”
While being interrogated by British soldiers after his companions escaped, Paul Revere lied to trick his captors (there were no 500 Americans ready to fight) or else his brains would be blown out.
And that, Palin Apologists insist, is the proof that Paul Revere’s mission was to warn the British!
This is to proof what Alaska’s distance from Russia is to foreign policy expertise.
(Side note: British threats to Paul Revere that his brains “would be blown out” is the 18th century version of “enhanced interrogation.” By the way, he then gave his enemies the fake answer they believed.)
And no “ringing those bells.” Zero “warning shots.”
Yet it gets worse. Apologists from conservatives4palin.com on down become more twisted as they try to explain away the inexplicable. Even placing blame on yet another unfair “Gotcha question” – the definition of which is basically “any question Sarah Palin can’t answer.” (They still consider, “What newspapers do you read?,” to be a “Gotcha question.” That’s not even a “Gotcha question” to a 12-year-old.) Yet, the reason Sarah Palin was asked about Paul Revere is because…she had just visited Paul Revere’s home!!! And dragged the media there herself.
But if it is a “Gotcha question,” consider what they’re insultingly saying: that asking to identify Paul Revere is so unfair that Sarah Palin couldn’t handle it.
Other Palin Apologists have cried media bias, claiming that no other political figure gets asked such things. News Flash: other political figures pray to be asked, “What newspapers do you read?” or “Who was Paul Revere?” Instead, they’re stuck being grilled about policy.
But ultimately, none of the whitewashing compares to Sarah Palin’s own effort to explain herself.
Let’s pretend a moment that it had been you who screwed up. And you knew you had two full days to prepare before going on Fox News, your safe home turf. What would your response be?
Maybe, “Of course I know who Paul Revere is, and that he was warning our great American patriots. But it was such a zoo all day, and I just got distracted. Ha ha.”
But what did Sarah Palin do? She did what she always does – she doubled-down:
“You know what? I didn’t mess up about Paul Revere. Here’s what Paul Revere did. He warned the Americans that “the British were coming, the British were coming.” And they were going to try to take our arms so got to make sure that, uh, we were protecting ourselves and, uhm, shoring up all of our ammunitions and our firearms so that they couldn’t take them.
“But remember that the British had already been there — many soldiers — for seven years in that area. And part of Paul Revere’s ride… And it wasn’t just one ride. He was a courier. He was a messenger. Part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there that, “Hey. You’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms. You are not gonna beat our own well-armed, uh, persons, uh, individual private militia that we have. He did warn the British.
“And in a shout-out, gotcha type of question that was asked of me, I answered candidly. And I know my American history.”
This is someone who wants you to believe she should be President of the United States. And with two days to prepare, that was the best she came up with!
Imagine her preparing to negotiate with Vladimir Putin.
For some reason, Sarah Palin loves doubling down. For some reason, she thinks that two wrongs actually do make a right. What two wrongs do when you repeat them is show you’re wrong twice.
As for knowing her American history, this is the same person who, when asked by that tough interviewer Glenn Beck who her favorite Founding Father was, answered, “All of them!!”
And in the end, just like the pretzel-twisting of her Apologists, it’s the cover-up that gets you. Rather than saying, “Oops,” and moving on, Sarah Palin herself insists that it was a “Gotcha question.” Acknowledging that she couldn’t handle a question your 10-year old could.
If only she’d let Piper answer.