Sarah Palin's Playground
If only all political issues were debated in the language of childhood.
Sarah Palin scored points Wednesday at a Minnesota fundraiser for Rep. Michele Bachmann when she framed her view of President Obama's nuclear arms reduction deal with Russia in "common sense" terms: "You know, that's kind of like getting out there on the playground, a bunch of kids ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, 'Go ahead, punch me in the face, and I'm not going to retaliate. Go ahead, and do what you want to with me!' No, it is unacceptable." In this era of unintelligible, lawyerly doubletalk, Palin's refreshing use of childhood imagery could launch a breakthrough in political discourse. Imagine how it might work with other issues.
On the war in Iraq
"You're wrestling Molly behind the bus garage, and you finally got her into a headlock so you can wail on her, but somebody ran off and told the principal, and now, old man Biden is coming to break it up. You'll both get put on detention, and it won't be over with Molly, because you'll have to fight her on the walk home tonight, so you're thinking, 'If I can put some good gouges onto Molly's pretty little face, she won't want to tangle with me again! Don't bind my hands, Biden! Molly needs to learn her lesson!' "
"You're holding a birthday party, and Maria Rodriguez is not invited—but not because she's Spanish or anything. Anyway, you're trying to keep it hush-hush, so Maria doesn't find out. Unfortunately, the teacher's pet, Barack Obama, gets up in class and says, 'Who-all is going to Sarah's party? Let's carpool so our mommies can save on gas!' So now, everybody knows, and Maria not only will come, but she'll bring her relatives, and there won't be enough cake, and your birthday will be ruined."
On protecting wilderness areas
"You're wearing your favorite jacket, when the richest kid in school, Kennedy, comes up and says, 'That coat is so nice, everybody should enjoy it. Give it to me, so I can hang it on the flag pole, so we all can see it.' And you go, 'No way, it's my jacket, and I want to wear it.' And he goes, 'It's too nice for just you. Besides, the Earth is heating up, so you don't need a jacket anyway!' Then, he takes your jacket and doesn't even put it on the flag pole, but he and his coat-hugger pals run around the school, wearing it."
On the banking bailout
"In the lunch line, the fattest kid in school asks for your ice cream cup. Now, you're willing to give him your green beans or mashed potatoes, but not the ice cream. So he says, 'If I can't have your ice cream, I'll fake a heart attack, they'll close the cafeteria, and nobody will get their ice cream cups.' So you give him your ice cream cup. Later, when Principal Summers finds out, he says, 'You should be ashamed of yourself, giving Fatty your ice cream! Because of you, he's fat.' As punishment, nobody gets ice cream, except Fatty, because he moved to another school, where he's pulling the same deal."
"You and Molly have nothing to do and want to go to mall. So you go to your mom, who's sitting around feeling sorry for herself, watching TV, because she doesn't have a job, and you go, 'Hey, Mom, we need a ride to the mall!' But she can't leave the house, because she's waiting for a phone call from Barack Obama, who is supposed to call any minute, offering her a job. But the phone never rings, because Barack Obama is talking about health care, so nobody goes to the mall, and it closes."
On universal health care
"You've got a tough math test coming up, so you tell your mom your head hurts and you need to stay home. But you don't get to skip classes and hook up with your boyfriend after hockey practice, because the school nurse comes to your house and spends the whole day taking your temperature and asking you trick questions. You end up having to lie in bed and study math, it costs the school so much money that they cut hockey, and then you find out you're pregnant!"
Hart Seely's memoir as a Yankee fan, The Juju Rules, will be published next year.
Photograph of Sarah Palin by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.