Palin's Soliloquy: A Textual Analysis Of Sarah's Resignation Speech

Illustration for article titled Palin's Soliloquy: A Textual Analysis Of Sarah's Resignation Speech

Sarah Palin's farewell speech to Alaska/her senses on Friday seemed poorly thought-out and confusing. After three days and an exhaustive treatment by our crack team of elitist, unreal American textual analysts, it's — still poorly thought-out and confusing.


Here's the best we can make of it:

Hi Alaska [1], I appreciate speaking directly TO you, the people I serve, as your Governor [2].

People who know me know that besides faith and family, nothing's more important to me than our beloved Alaska. Serving her people is the greatest honor I could imagine.

I want Alaskans to grasp what can be in store for our state. We were purchased as a territory because a member of President Abe Lincoln's cabinet, William Seward, providentially saw in this great land, vast riches, beauty, strategic placement on the globe, and opportunity [3]. He boldly looked "North to the Future". But he endured such ridicule and mocking for his vision for Alaska, remember the adversaries scoffed, calling this "Seward's Folly". Seward withstood such disdain [4] as he chose the uncomfortable, unconventional, but RIGHT path to secure Alaska, so Alaska could help secure the United States.

Alaska's mission – to contribute to America [5]. We're strategic IN the world as the air crossroads OF the world, as a gatekeeper of the continent. Bold visionaries knew this - Alaska would be part of America's great destiny.

Our destiny to be reached by responsibly developing our natural resources. This land, blessed with clean air, water, wildlife, minerals, AND oil and gas. It's energy! God gave us energy [6].

So to serve the state is a humbling responsibility, because I know in my soul that Alaska is of such import, for America's security, in our very volatile world. And you know me by now, I promised even four years ago to show MY independence… no more conventional "politics as usual" [7].

And we are doing well! My administration's accomplishments speak for themselves. We work tirelessly for Alaskans.

We aggressively and responsibly develop our resources because they were created to be used to better our world... to HELP people... and we protect the environment and Alaskans (the resource owners) foremost with our policies.

1. The informal greeting signifies both that Palin is a red-blooded, down-to-earth American (unlike certain hello-saying, term-finishing, snooty liberals) and that the listeners are not just her constituents, subject to her confusing gubernatorial whims, but also her pals.
2. Since the speech is currently available on the web, Palin's team might consider password-protecting it, so that it could be accessed only by patriotic Alaskans, and not by Palin's critics. Possible passwords include: barracuda, tinafeysux, death2moose.
3. Seward is reported to have said, "This fine northerly territory will afford picturesque and instructive views of Russia." Settlers soon found that the ability to "see Russia from their homes" did not improve their understanding of Russo-U.S. relations or global foreign policy in general — hence, the Alaska purchase came to be known as "Seward's Folly."
4. Palin's praise for Stewart's ability to "withstand disdain" is at odds with her own strategy for dealing with detractors, which can best be described as "quitting."
5. Palin favors the sentence fragment. As Kitty Burns Florey illustrates in her helpful diagrams of Palin's sentences, this rhetorical style combines a "folksy" tone with a fundamental disregard for and misunderstanding of the basic conventions of the English language (cf. George W. Bush).
6. For a better understanding of Palin's approach to theology, consult the children's show Veggie Tales.
7. Here Palin appears to be opting for a broad definition of "politics as usual," one that includes such outdated conventions as finishing out one's elected term and completing the job one has promised to do.

Here's some of the things we've done:

[...] [8]

We are doing well! I wish you'd hear MORE from the media of your state's progress and how we tackle Outside interests - daily - SPECIAL interests that would stymie our state. Even those debt-ridden stimulus dollars that would force the heavy hand of federal government into our communities with an "all-knowing attitude" [9] – I have taken the slings and arrows with that unpopular move to veto because I know being right is better than being popular [10]. Some of those dollars would harm Alaska and harm America – I resisted those dollars because of the obscene national debt we're forcing our children to pay, because of today's Big Government spending; it's immoral and doesn't even make economic sense!

Another accomplishment – our Law Department protected states' rights – TWO huge U.S. Supreme Court reversals came down against that liberal Ninth Circuit, deciding in OUR state's favor over the last two weeks. We're protectors of our Constitution – federalists protect states' rights as mandated in 10th amendment.

But you don't hear much of the good stuff in the press anymore, do you?

Some say things changed for me on August 29th last year – the day John McCain tapped me to be his running-mate – I say others changed.

Let me speak to that for a minute.

Political operatives descended on Alaska last August, digging for dirt. The ethics law I championed became their weapon of choice [11]. Over the past nine months I've been accused of all sorts of frivolous ethics violations – such as holding a fish in a photograph, wearing a jacket with a logo on it, and answering reporters' questions.

Every one – all 15 of the ethics complaints have been dismissed. We've won! But it hasn't been cheap - the State has wasted THOUSANDS of hours of YOUR time and shelled out some two million of YOUR dollars to respond to "opposition research" – that's money NOT going to fund teachers or troopers – or safer roads. And this political absurdity, the "politics of personal destruction" [12]… Todd and I are looking at more than half a million dollars in legal bills in order to set the record straight. And what about the people who offer up these silly accusations? It doesn't cost them a dime so they're not going to stop draining public resources – spending other peoples' money in their game.

It's pretty insane – my staff and I spend most of our day dealing with THIS instead of progressing our state now. I know I promised no more "politics as usual," but THIS isn't what anyone had in mind for ALASKA.

8. At this point in the text we have engaged in a common analytical practice known as "cutting out the boring stuff."
9. The image of a "hand" with an "all-knowing attitude" is an unusual one, with little precedent in the literature. Perhaps Palin is envisioning something like this.
10. Here Palin references Hamlet's famous soliloquy. Though Hamlet speaks of "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," Palin's "slings and arrows with that unpopular move to veto" is no less poetic. The Hamlet allusion may also be a coded statement of Palin's plan to feign madness in order to achieve her political aims.
11. Again, Palin employs a combination of metaphors that may be confusing to the untrained eye — she seems to be implying that "political operatives" are using weapons made of dirt. However, such interpretations — or any attempt to impose traditional standards of rhetorical consistency on Palin — can be considered "politics as usual."
12. Palin makes an implicit distinction between the "politics of personal destruction" and her approach, which has never been personal or destructive.

If I have learned one thing: LIFE is about choices! [13]

And one chooses how to react to circumstances. You can choose to engage in things that tear down, or build up. I choose to work very hard on a path for fruitfulness and productivity. I choose NOT to tear down and waste precious time; but to build UP this state and our country, and her industrious, generous, patriotic, free people!

Life is too short to compromise time and resources... it may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: "Sit down and shut up", but that's the worthless, easy path; that's a quitter's way out [14]. And a problem in our country today is apathy. It would be apathetic to just hunker down and "go with the flow".

Nah, only dead fish "go with the flow" [15].

No. Productive, fulfilled people determine where to put their efforts, choosing to wisely utilize precious time... to BUILD UP.


I've never believed that I, nor anyone else, needs a title to do this - to make a difference... to HELP people [16]. So I choose, for my State and my family, more "freedom" to progress, all the way around... so that Alaska may progress... I will not seek re-election as Governor.

And so as I thought about this announcement that I wouldn't run for re-election and what it means for Alaska, I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks… travel around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade – as so many politicians do. And then I thought – that's what's wrong – many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and "milk it" [17]. I'm not putting Alaska through that – I promised efficiencies and effectiveness!? That's not how I am wired. I am not wired to operate under the same old "politics as usual." I promised that four years ago – and I meant it.

It's not what is best for Alaska.

I am determined to take the right path for Alaska even though it is unconventional and not so comfortable.


13. The growing resemblance between Palin's style and that of an Onion columnist is presumably unintentional.
14. Though Palin's quitting might be seen by laymen as "a quitter's way out," trained Palinologists will realize that, by the I'm-rubber-you're-glue theorem, calling Palin a quitter is actually a quitter's way out.
15. Ever the innovator, Palin adds the term "dead fish" to the political lexicon, meaning "someone who perseveres in his/her job despite criticism, difficulty, and/or the chance to pursue more television appearances elsewhere."
16. Palin's commitment to "helping people" without a "title" will no doubt hold strong throughout her upcoming campaign for President.
17. Here Palin advances her bold thesis: that serving out the full term for which your constituents elected you is in fact an exploitation of those constituents. No doubt her time after resignation will consist entirely of delivering barrels of crude oil to impoverished Alaskan families and reuniting baby grizzlies with their mothers, and not of "hitting the road" making public appearances in other, more influential states.


Let me go back to a comfortable analogy for me - sports... basketball. I use it because you're naïve if you don't see the national full-court press picking away right now: A good point guard drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her eye on the basket... and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can WIN [18]. And I'm doing that – keeping our eye on the ball that represents sound priorities – smaller government, energy independence, national security, freedom! And I know when it's time to pass the ball – for victory.

I have given my reasons candidly and truthfully... and my last day won't be for another few weeks so the transition will be very smooth. In fact, we will look to swear Sean in - in Fairbanks at the conclusion of our Governor's picnics.

I do not want to disappoint anyone with my decision; all I can ask is that you TRUST me with this decision - but it's no more "politics as usual".

Some Alaskans don't mind wasting public dollars and state time. I do. I cannot stand here as your Governor and allow millions upon millions of our dollars go to waste just so I can hold the title of Governor. And my children won't allow it either. ? Some will question the timing. ? Let's just say, this decision has been in the works for awhile...

In fact, this decision comes after much consideration, and finally polling the most important people in my life - my children (where the count was unanimous... well, in response to asking: "Want me to make a positive difference and fight for ALL our children's future from OUTSIDE the Governor's office?" [19] It was four "yes's" and one "hell yeah!" The "hell yeah" sealed it - and someday I'll talk about the details of that... I think much of it had to do with the kids seeing their baby brother Trig mocked by some pretty mean-spirited adults recently [20].) Um, by the way, sure wish folks could ever, ever understand that we ALL could learn so much from someone like Trig - I know he needs me, but I need him even more... what a child can offer to set priorities RIGHT - that time is precious... the world needs more "Trigs", not fewer.

My decision was also fortified during this most recent trip to Kosovo and Landstuhl, to visit our wounded soldiers overseas, those who sacrifice themselves in war for OUR freedom and security... we can ALL learn from our selfless Troops... they're bold, they don't give up [21], they take a stand and know that LIFE is short so they choose to NOT waste time. They choose to be productive and to serve something greater than SELF... and to build up their families, their states, our country. These Troops and their important missions - those are truly the worthy causes in this world and should be the public priority with time and resources and NOT this local / superficial wasteful political bloodsport.

May we ALL learn from them!

18. A more appropriate analogy for Palin's actions might be stopping in the middle of the game, tossing the basketball over one's shoulder, and then leaving the court to play an entirely different game, perhaps table tennis or curling.
19. Here Palin displays a skill that will no doubt serve her well in national politics: talking to people as though they are children.
20. By implying that she is leaving office to protect her baby from ridicule, Palin reinforces the idea that her critics are Completely Horrible People.
21. The heroism of America's troops and their perseverance in the face of obstacles might be seen as a rebuke to Palin's decision to leave office when things got tough. However, such linear thinking is yet another example of "politics as usual" (see footnote 11).

*((Gotta put First Things First))*[22]

First things first: as Governor, I love my job and I love Alaska. It hurts to make this choice but I am doing what's best for Alaska. I've explained why... though I think of the saying on my parents' refrigerator that says "Don't explain: your friends don't need it and your enemies won't believe you anyway." [23]

But I have given my reasons... no more "politics as usual" and I am taking my fight for what's right - for Alaska - in a new direction.

Now, despite this, I don't want any Alaskan dissuaded from entering politics after seeing this REAL "climate change" that began in August... no, we NEED hardworking, average Americans fighting for what's right! And I will support you because we need YOU and YOU can effect change, and I can too on the outside [24].


In the words of General MacArthur said, "We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction." [25]


22. The punctuation here suggests that Palin's web communications team is in on the "feigning madness" plan.
23. The other note on the family refrigerator said, "But if you do explain, do so at great length and utilizing many mixed metaphors."
24. Here again Palin employs a rhetorical technique she has likely honed on her children, that of "do as I say, not as I do."
25. Interestingly, all of MacArthur's efforts to "effect change" on World War II "from the outside" were met with failure. He only achieved his famous victories when he commanded actual troops, with actual weapons, in actual battles.

For more overeducated, liberal-media analysis of Palin's maverick rhetoric, see Slate's "close reading" of her Fourth of July Facebook message.


Full Text Of Palin's Resignation Speech [Talking Points Memo]
Reading Palin Plain [Slate]
Diagramming Sarah [Slate]


Hortense Smith

"If I have learned one thing: LIFE is about choices!"

Unless you're pregnant, am I right, ladies?