And why shouldn't "
" be a word? One of the appeals of Sarah Palin-or one of her infuriating habits, depending on your perspective-is that she absolutely refuses to be embarrassed. She will not admit that her use of this nonword in a Fox appearance or in a now-deleted tweet arguing against the building of a mosque near Ground Zero ("pls refudiate") deserves correction. "Shakespeare liked to coin new words, too," she
most recently, as if to suggest that she invented the word on purpose.
Intention matters a great deal, of course, in so many matters. In this instance, it is the difference between being accused, as Bush 43 often was, of intellectual infirmity and claiming linguistic inventiveness in league with one of the English language's greatest writers. The latter is quite a stretch, but to be fair, malapropisms serve a purpose , helping us revise our language and put it to better use.
In any case, one of Palin's defining characteristics is that it apparently isn't in her DNA to back down or to apologize. If you go by the Game Change account of the aftermath of the disastrous Katie Couric interview, Palin blamed everyone but herself for not being able to talk fluently about the bailout, foreign policy, and Supreme Court decisions. Indeed, if you watch that famous scene in which Couric asks Palin what publications she reads, you can sense the then-vice presidential candidate's defensiveness. The notion that Palin couldn't recall the name of Time magazine or whatever-or didn't do much serious reading at all and didn't want to lie-always seemed preposterous to me. Instead, she acts as if she's being cornered, much as she seemed during this recent Bill O'Reilly interview . In essence, she refudiates the legitimacy of the query. "Alaska isn't a foreign country," she winds up telling Katie Couric, when the easier and savvier thing to do would be to just answer the damn question. The portrait that emerged of Palin during the 2008 election was of a woman at once deeply confident and brittle. She may not have changed much since then.
Photograph of Sarah Palin by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images. Image of Shakespeare courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.