Sarah Palin, The English Language And Georgia's Primary

As everyone must know, there is only one Sarah Palin, but people have widely different reactions to her.

Her supporters love her and see her as the next president.  Her detractors loathe her and mock her mercilessly.  Neither side can ignore her.

Here are two reactions to all things Sarah Palin.

Appearing on Fox News' "Hannity" program last week, Palin was asked about the resolution recently passed by the NAACP decrying racist elements in the Tea Party.  Palin would have nothing of it:

It's a false accusation, very unfortunate, and again, very very unnecessary.  And the president and his wife, you know, the first lady spoke at NAACP so recently, they have power in their words, they could refudiate [emphasis mine] what it is that this group is saying and they could set the record straight.

(Here's the video; the selected quote begins at about 2:25 in.)

In the interview, Palin — who constantly decries what she calls the "lamestream" media — came up with a word that very few people on Earth have ever heard of: "refudiate."

Then, yesterday, in a Twitter post (at SarahPalinUSA) — which has since been deleted — she again used the, um, word.  She said that "peaceful Muslims" should "refudiate" the idea of building a mosque near Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center once stood in lower Manhattan.

That tweet was replaced by another one, in which she advised people to just get over it, and in doing so, compared herself to the Bard of Avon himself:

"Refudiate," "misunderestimate," "wee-wee’d up." English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!

Palin did her best to make light of the situation.  And so did those who enjoy mocking her.

There is now a ShakesPalin Twitter feed that combines Shakespeare quotes with those from the former Alaska governor.  (Examples: "Get thee to a gunnery," and "But soft, what light from yonder window breaks? It is the East, and I can see Russia from my front porch". Go to Twitter.com and search "@shakespalin.")

And the blogosphere is having a field day.

Washington Post blogger Alexandra Petri, ridiculing Palin's choice of word, ends with this:

Maybe she'll prove me wrong and "refudiate" will catch on. But if she runs in 2012, I hope we’re horpswangling enough to grountify her. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Jacob Heilbrunn, blogging at the Huffington Post, offered this:

All the hubbub overlooked the possibility that perhaps Palin isn't simply trying to bring down big government, but the English language as well.

It would be foolish to underestimate her ability to succeed, at least in the latter area. She's already displayed great skill at mangling every word and phrase within talking distance. Imagine what she could do with the bully pulpit.

Satirist Andy Borowitz, under the header "Palin Says Refudiate Appears in Fictionary, Calls Critics Incohecent," writes that the former governor "defended her use of the word 'refudiate,' telling her critics, 'Look it up in the fictionary'”:

While claiming that “refudiate” is a real word, she reserved her right to make up new words in the future.

“Everyone makes up words – Shakespeare, George W. Bush, Levi Johnston,” she said.  “The only person I know who doesn’t do it is my husband Todd, who doesn’t speak.”

The Zazzle blog is selling a shirt that reads, "Sarah Palin Refudiates This T-Shirt."

There already is a refudiate.com Web site.

Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch blog tries to put things in perspective:

As far as made-up words go, where does Sarah Palin’s refudiate stand? It’s not quite as versatile as George W. Bush’s classic misunderestimate or Will-Ferrell-as-Bush’s even more classic strategery, but I think this verb has potential.

Everyone was having a field day.

Now, here's the obverse part of Sarah Palin.

Last July 12, on her Facebook page, Palin — who has been endorsing candidates around the country for the midterm elections — announced she was supporting former Secretary of State Karen Handel for governor of Georgia in the July 20 GOP primary:

Though considered an underdog candidate (more power to her!), this pro-life, pro-Constitutionalist with a can-do attitude and a record of fighting for ethics in government is ready to serve in the Governor’s Office. She’ll balance budgets and help spur Georgia’s economy. ... Please join me in supporting this good conservative reformer who will work tirelessly for the Peach State.

And guess what?  Handel "appears to have surged into the lead," according to an analysis of polling by James Salzer in yesterday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  A Mason-Dixon survey, conducted for the Georgia Newspaper Partnership, has Handel in first place, with 29 percent of the vote — up six percentage points since Palin's endorsment.  The previous frontrunner, state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, has fallen to second place with 22 percent, and ex-Rep. Nathan Deal following with 20 percent.  In fourth place is former state Senate GOP leader Eric Johnson, with 13 percent.

Brad Coker, the managing director of the poll, said that the Palin endorsement "definitely helped."  The AJC article shows how:

Carolyn Draper, 67, a retiree from White in Bartow County, is not set in her vote, but she has leaned toward Handel. She said Palin’s endorsement is a big deal to her.

“It influences me,” she said. “I am a very conservative person and I have very conservative values, and I think Sarah Palin does, too.”

Brunswick landscape contractor Powell Noble, 52, said he trusts Palin’s judgment.

“What I hear out of Sarah Palin is straight talk. I think anyone Sarah Palin endorses is worth putting in government,” he said.

The AJC's Jim Galloway writes about Palin's influence:

Republicans are free to dispute the former Alaskan governor’s judgment when it comes to choosing a favorite in Tuesday’s primary.

But they cannot question the political phenomenon that Palin has become in the otherwise dead air of a sultry primary season — especially in Republican races for governor.

Nikki Haley of South Carolina in May. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma and Terry Branstad of Iowa in June. And then Palin singled out Handel — “this good conservative reformer.” ...

One thing seems clear.  She not only creates words.  Sometimes, she creates candidates as well.

You can't refudiate that.

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