The election is over, but the geographical literacy campaign continues

I'm a bit skeptical about the claim by Fox News that Sarah Palin "didn't understand that Africa was a continent."

Actually, Fox's Carl Cameron doesn't accuse her of that directly; he claims he was told. By, uh, "folks."

His exact words:

"Well I wish I could have told you back at the time, but all of it was put off the record until after the election. There was great concern in the McCain campaign that Sarah Palin lacked a degree of knowledgeability necessary to be a running mate a vice president and a heartbeat away from the presidency.

"Uh we are told by folks, uh, that that she didn't know what countries were in NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), that being Canada, the US, and Mexico. We are told that she didn't understand that Africa was a continent rather than uh, a series, than a country just in and of itself.

I realize the election is over, but something about this offends my common sense instincts, and it does not pass my smell test. And because I'm still blogging (between drinks right now) I have to say that I just don't think Sarah Palin is that ignorant. At the risk of sounding hopelessly partisan, I think she does know that there is an African continent.

I think someone is lying (or at least exaggerating). Either Cameron, or the "folks" who allegedly, uh, told him.

In fact, the whole thing reminds me of the "I can see Russia" meme. Snarked the LA Times blog about Palin being "unaware that Africa is a continent,"

Perhaps she was hamstrung by the fact that no part of that land mass can be viewed from her homestate.
Sarah Palin was widely ridiculed because (so it is claimed) she said "I can see Russia from my house," or "I can see Russia from Alaska," or just "I can see Russia."

She never said any of those things; she merely pointed out in an interview with Charlie Gibson that Alaska is close enough to Russian territory that it can be seen:

They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.
That was transformed into Tina Fey's "I can see Russia" comedy skit.

Amazingly, that "statement" she never made was "debunked" in such a way as to make it look as if she was not only a moron who didn't understand geography, but was also "lying" about having personally looked across the water to Russia.

There are numerous blog posts; this one -- CNN: Sarah Palin Has Never Seen Russia From Alaska -- is typical. And it links a CNN "investigation" which revealed that sure enough, on the Alaska island of Little Diomede, anyone can look across the water and see Russia.

The race is over, right?

So what's with the ongoing Sarah Palin smear campaign?

I don't know. But I've said this before, and I'll say it again:

I have long believed that what "they" most fear is an alliance between libertarians and social conservatives.
We libertarians are far too sophisticated to ally ourselves with someone who can't find Africa on a map, aren't we?

I can't stake my life on it, but I think Sarah Palin knows that Africa is a continent. But then, I am also convinced that the president elect knows that there are only 50 states.

But then, I might be a stupid and trusting moron. Just the other day, a commenter was kind enough to point out that I said "new" when I meant "knew."

I don't no how he new I didn't mean no.

MORE: Is this all part of a new Rovian plot? Jennifer Rubin wonders:

...if you had to come up with a plot to endear her to the base, increase anger against the McCain bumblers and lift the fighting spirits of conservatives you couldn't come up with a better idea than continuing to trash Palin in the media. Is it a Rovian plot?
Via Glenn Reynolds, who calls them a bunch of losers.

Ah, but what if it's a deliberate Rovian Long March strategy?

MORE: Michelle Malkin has more on the anonymous Palin trashers:

The anonymous trashing of Sarah Palin by blabbermouth McCain aides who are leaking to Fox News is disgusting. Absolutely disgusting.

Allah's got the vid clip of a report citing unnamed McCain staffers accusing Palin of lacking, in Carl Cameron's words, "knowledgeability." More slime here. And here.

While I've long been tired of anonymous sources being cited as newsworthy, what raises my antennae here is that the allegations don't pass the smell test. I think Fox has a duty to do something more than "report."

MORE: Ace has a ton of links and discussion> Just go there and keep scrolling.

posted by Eric on 11.05.08 at 10:31 PM


Reporters have a well-deserved reputation for happily repeating any slander they hear, no matter how obviously false--and often they make up the lies themselves.

pst314   ·  November 5, 2008 10:48 PM


pst314   ·  November 5, 2008 10:49 PM


pst314   ·  November 5, 2008 10:51 PM


pst314   ·  November 5, 2008 10:52 PM

Ekke Ekke Ptang Ptang Zoo Boing!

pst314   ·  November 5, 2008 10:53 PM

I'll go with Lorne Michaels' assessment of Palin.

"...Her politics aren't my politics. But you can see that she's a very powerful, very disciplined, incredibly gracious woman. This was her first time out and she's had a huge impact. People connect to her."

JKB   ·  November 5, 2008 11:42 PM

Sarah on her foreign policy credentials:

COURIC: Have you ever been involved with any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth. We-- we do-- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where-- where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is-- from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to-- to our state

Stop it, please.

Thanks to your Village Idiot from Texas, we are in the worst financial crisis since the Depression and fighting two wars.

Thanks, but no thanks!

Meyrav Levine   ·  November 6, 2008 12:40 AM

ML, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank are from Texas? You might want to rethink the two wars thing, El Jefe Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, President Bush carried it out.

Well, ML, Saddam Hussein was only killing the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs, in hindsight we should've let him do so in peace. Lord knows the added stress of scrutiny from others while committing genocide. Thing is, Hussein's act of diverting rivers and draining the marshes should be hailed as a genius level ecological manipulation not as an attempt to starve his political enemies or destroying a huge swath of wetlands that had thrived since the time of the Babylonians.

Dude, nuance!

Blademonkey   ·  November 6, 2008 1:15 AM

Did you know that before he got elected Bush didn't know Africa was a continent either?

Sarah must have learned that from him. The Maker knows she couldn't have learned the truth from her teacher parents.

And besides - even Republicans know Republicans are dumb.

M. Simon   ·  November 6, 2008 4:18 AM

Dan Quayle never said he wanted to visit Latin America, but didn't speak Latin. Nor did a House page ask Fred Grandy in the elevator if he wanted to get out at the Lido Deck. Likewise, Bush 41 was not astounded to discover that supermarkets used laser scanners.

But no matter. People require that Republicans be stupid, therefore matters sich as Bush 43's grades topping Al Gore's are eithoer ignored or shrugged off. All hail the narrative, comrades!

Steve Skubinna   ·  November 6, 2008 6:08 AM

The problem with Meyrav is, well, he's an idiot.

And a Democrat, but I repeat myself.

Anyone who takes a step back from BDS realizes that Democratic policy dating back to 1979 is the actual cause of the current unpleasantness. They just can't bear to admit that they were wrong.

brian   ·  November 6, 2008 7:41 AM


Alan Greenspan recently conceded that the discredited free-market fundamentalism is behind the crisis:

“You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, chairman of the committee. “Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?”

Mr. Greenspan conceded: “Yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact.”

And who does the deity of free market fundamentalism blames?

Mr. Greenspan, who was first appointed by President Ronald Reagan, placed far more blame on the Wall Street companies that bundled subprime mortgages into pools and sold them as mortgage-backed securities. Global demand for the securities was so high, he said, that Wall Street companies pressured lenders to lower their standards and produce more “paper.”

“The evidence strongly suggests that without the excess demand from securitizers, subprime mortgage originations (undeniably the original source of the crisis) would have been far smaller and defaults accordingly far lower,” he said.

See NYT for details.


Meyrav Levine   ·  November 6, 2008 9:01 AM

I am one of those geography nuts. I kill time at boring meetings by trying to name all the countries of Africa, drawing trees of the Indo-European languages, or listing as many European rivers as I can think of.

And you know what? I wouldn't consider that a qualification for president, though I can easily sound knowledgeable about most places.

What would be more important would be remembering which countries have our enemies in them. I think Sarah Palin is going to prove pretty reliable on that.

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  November 6, 2008 9:18 AM

Sarah Palin was an honor student in her high school. Her parents insisted on good grades and her father was a high school science teacher. I doubt very much that someone with this background is misinformed that Africa is a country. It simply doesn't compute, sorry. This one should be filed along with her fake high school transcripts. It's also interesting that the accusers are kept anonymous - they are just "sources" who won't come forward and make their incredible accusations in the light of day.

The amount of slander that has been dumped upon this woman is sickening, and frankly, reveals the true tolerance and inclusiveness of the slanderers.

Kevin P.   ·  November 6, 2008 10:01 AM

Ignorance is curable, stupidity isn't. And I'm getting SO damn tired of "anonymous" sources leaking crap like this.

Palin - she's not a Washington Insider, so she can't be allowed to play in their games. Frankly, I'm starting to think one of the main things wrong with the country IS the Washington Establishment - all of 'em, from the reporters on up.

They are not nobility, they are not aristocrats, they are not the ones in control of this country beyond what we LET them control.

They may see themselves as irreplaceable, but they aren't - just as pulling a stick out of the water it's been in a long time doesn't leave a hole.

JLawson   ·  November 6, 2008 10:49 AM

Palin thought Africa was one country according to this guy who knows this guy who told a reporter.

Obama thinks that there are 57 states according to the video of him saying it.

I think the second is worse (and isn't bad at all, in the grand scheme of things.)

Phelps   ·  November 6, 2008 11:08 AM

You're forgetting one of the absolutely most heinous allegations that Nicole Wallace privately made to Carl Cameron: a campaign aide knocked on the door of Sarah Palin's hotel room and, once time, she answered while wearing a bathrobe! Can you imagine! That woman should not be allowed in polite society! She's so ... so ... common!

Oh ... and Sarah Palin had the campaign by clothes for Todd Palin too! Can you imagine! The fact that Todd works on fishing boats and oil fields, and didn't have a month's worth of suits in his closet is irrelevant. Or it's very relevant ... the husband of the woman who was almost one heartbeat away did not own enough suits! Those Palins are trash!

PLEASE NOTE: the above is my wholly sarcastic take on the probable facts. McCain and his "anonymous" staffer [cough] Nicole Wallace [/cough] are not coming out looking good from this Sarah bashing. My respect for McCain is dropping. Sarah 2012!

Rhodium Heart   ·  November 6, 2008 11:26 AM

Didn't the Republicans do this same thing to Al Gore in 2000? All through that campaign I heard Republican officials and conservative commentators say that Al Gore said: "I invented the internet." Gore never actually said that.

chocolatier   ·  November 6, 2008 2:10 PM

Rhodium Heart

I believe you have intentionally misconstrued the bulk of the criticism leveled against Ms. Congeniality. A good portion of the American people were initially quite eager to embrace her *because* she was "common." Quite soon, however, it became apparent to all but the most blinded ideologue that Palin was in several levels over her head and had no business being first in line for the presidency.

Many people were eager to give her a chance, but when people recognized her for the divisive, uninformed sham she was, they thought better of it.

Even if you don't care for Obama, you should be very thankful we dodged the Palin bullet.

Dr. Nobel Dynamite   ·  November 6, 2008 5:32 PM

Prophecy Regarding Sarah Palin's 2012 Presidential Campaign

When Sarah Palin's 2012 Presidential campaign begins her campaign staff will be known as organized, knowledgeable, and disciplined. Among her campaign staff Palin herself will be known---with fear and admiration---as, "The Iron Bitch".

Alan Kellogg   ·  November 6, 2008 5:44 PM

The idea that Sarah Palin doesn't know the countries in NAFTA is beyond absurd. She negotiated a $40 billion natural gas pipeline with a Canadian firm. This whole thing can be solved very quickly. Someone should do a nexus-lexus search of "Palin" and "NAFTA" for articles published prior to August 2008 (i.e., before McCain named her to the ticket). I would do this myself if I had access to nexus-lexus. I'm sure you'll pull up some hits.

Rebecca   ·  November 6, 2008 7:03 PM

The idea that Sarah Palin doesn't know the countries in NAFTA is beyond absurd. She negotiated a $40 billion natural gas pipeline with a Canadian firm. This whole thing can be solved very quickly. Someone should do a nexus-lexus search of "Palin" and "NAFTA" for articles published prior to August 2008 (i.e., before McCain named her to the ticket). I would do this myself if I had access to nexus-lexus. I'm sure you'll pull up some hits.

Rebecca   ·  November 6, 2008 7:04 PM

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