A Special Kind of Gullibility

I don’t think we’ve commented on the anonymous trashing of Sarah Palin by unknown McCain campaign staffers. It’s abhorrent, obviously, but I want to comment specifically on one aspect of the unsourced smear: the claim that Governor Palin didn’t realize that Africa was a continent, but rather understood it to be a country.

This is a good example of a claim so ridiculous on its face that it requires a special kind of gullibility to believe it. It reminds me of a similar smear that was directed at Dan Quayle when he was Vice President: the assertion that he thought people speak Latin in Latin America. This line originated as a joke, but was later taken seriously and repeated as fact by many liberals. Who could be dumb enough to fall for the claim that Quayle, who had graduated from high school, college and law school, served in the U.S. Senate and as Vice President, somehow had remained ignorant of the facts that Latin is a dead language, and Latin Americans speak Spanish and Portuguese? I don’t know, but I suspect some of the same people are now telling each other that Sarah Palin didn’t know Africa is a continent. Which would mean, I suppose, that South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt are states. Or provinces, maybe.

Such gullibility stems from a willingness to believe anything bad about people with whom one disagrees or whom one dislikes. We saw the same phenomenon throughout the Bush administration, as the most absurd claims about President Bush were leveled, with apparent sincerity, by large numbers of liberals. It’s a good lesson for us conservatives: let’s not fall into the trap of believing everything we hear about Barack Obama and his associates, no matter how patently absurd, just because we disagree with their policies.

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