Friday, October 3, 2008

"Hey, Can I Call You Joe?"

You didn't ask me, but I thought that the peppy & patriotic Sarah Palin did just fine & dandy last night in that good ole debate there in St. Louis.

Striding out to meet Joe Biden like a salesperson for
Valley River Park & Sell in Wasilla , Sarah took control immediately and said "Hey, mind if I call you Joe?" I thought for sure the next line would be "let me show you one of our 4-wheel beauties, it'll come in handy durin' moose season."

It was the beginning of the 90-minute Sarah Palin Show filled with BriteSmile colloquialisms and delivered in a perfect made-for-TV feisty, cocky, flirtatious, winking demeanor.

America, meet the new Gidget.

When I was growing up I attended a Catholic grade school (elementary school). The teachers were from a religious order called Sisters of Mercy. My teachers were stern, no-nonsense disciplinarians who taught a wide range of academic subjects using fear, loathing and a 12-inch ruler as teaching aides. The Principal's name was Sister Mary Richard (a topic of another much longer post I assure you) - in 8 years I never saw her smile.

The Sisters liked teaching by rote learning -
a technique which avoids understanding of a subject and instead focuses on memorization. The major practice involved in rote learning is repetition. The idea is that one will be able to quickly recall the meaning of the material the more one repeats it. You could actually pass a test without any meaningful comprehension of the subject. Sure beat the hell out of thinking. Left me all kinds of time to play instead.

By the time I got to the 6th Grade, the Sisters were fond of holding debates in the classroom between 2 students. Usually the perceived smartest girl against one of us average guys.
The smartest girl was Mary Alice Gallagher. Not only was she the smartest girl in the class, she was also the tallest, cutest, and meanest girl in the class. During recess, on the playground, she used to smile at you while she was hitting you.

I grew to hate Mary Alice Gallagher. I think she's mayor of a neighboring town today.

Mary Alice Gallagher always won all the debates in the 6th Grade. She was the best memorizer I had ever seen. She had all the facts down stone-cold and ready to hit you with them with just a glance down at her notes every so often . She was unbelievably adept at it.

So when I was watching Sarah Palin last night, I thought of Mary Alice Gallagher and rote learning.

I now think Sarah Palin is the best memorizer I have ever seen. And it is clear that Sarah Palin is a perfect product of rote learning. Rote learning, by definition, eschews comprehension of a subject, and consequently, it is an ineffective tool in mastering any complex subject at an advanced level. And you simply don't have to burden yourself with really understanding anything you say.

And, doggone it, if that doesn't define Sarah Palin, I just don't know what does. She's simply the best master (mistress?) of memorization of talking points of anyone I've ever watched.

She's perfect for TV and our popular culture. I have no doubt that she has a future in our national lives.

Wouldn't that be dandy?

You betcha!