The Washington Post

Sarah Palin tweets about ‘Obama's Shuck and Jive’

She’s still here! (REUTERS)

Wednesday, she tweeted and posted on Facebook that “Obama’s Shuck and Jive Ends With Benghazi Lies.

I am torn, though. Is it worth noting?

Perhaps, I worry, this is part of the problem: paying attention at all, and paying attention not to what she said but to how she said it. Focusing on flair, not content. Glitz, not substance. Flavor, not nutrition.

But this is like hand-wringing over the rise of public interest in nudity instead of noting that a flasher just ran by.

At least the ratio of noise made to attention paid has shifted in the past three years.

Palin is turning into Ann Coulter, who is professionally obligated to name-call the president in a way that would embarrass many of today’s middle schoolers in order for anyone to pay attention.

We already knew how badly Palin’s latest turn of phrase would play. We’ve been over this. This one already came around, as my colleague Erik Wemple noted, in 2008, when Andrew Cuomo, a surrogate for Hillary Clinton, used the phrase and numerous news outlets called him on it.

And this phrase is not just racially freighted: it’s vintage! It’s like she imported the talking point, and the tone, from the 1880s sometime, carefully wrapped in a mural of The Lost Cause.

Does she not realize that time has moved forward, altering our slang, winnowing the ranks of Confederate widows and wreaking havoc on the list of Phrases Popular in 1890 That You Can Still Use Without Sounding Terribly Racist? That phrase lurks in the vault with the uncut version of Disney’s “Song of the South” and all those black-and-white Bugs Bunny films — of which the less said the better.

But the less said the better is seldom the rule with Palin.

You don’t select that phrase if you want the substance of your remarks to be the main focus.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


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