What to do when Sarah Palin says something that you really, really want to mean something else: a study in political punditry

Posted by Ryan Jerz on Monday September 15, 2008.

The road to becoming a respected pundit is a long one. If you are trying to do it through your opinion blog, it’s also a relatively new one. The cadre of people attempting to do exactly what you are doing is growing, and there is a lot of diversity—if only in writing style. Unfortunately, there are bumps in that road. Those bumps include writing the same thing as, like, literally, everyone else in the world, and being dead-ass wrong on occasion.

Now, we all know that if you want to hang in the sexy, high-society world of political punditry, you have to have mettle. You can’t just run around willy-nilly admitting mistakes when you’re slapped in the face with them, can you? No way, Jose. You have to stand up for what you believe is right, even when the most logical explanation possible is presented to you, and it disproves your original opinion. Because, dammit(!), you’re the Political Opinionator™!

Luckily, there’s something you can do. Like, something made exactly for you: moving the goalposts:

The expression “moving the goalposts”, which means to make a set of goals more difficult just as they are being met, is often used in business but is derived from American football. It is commonly used to imply bad faith on the part of those setting goals for others to meet, by arbitrarily making additional demands just as the initial ones are about to be met.

In the political realm, it’s used to show that once you’re shown to be wrong about something, you adjust the reasoning you were using before, making it basically impossible for someone to demand you actually admit you’re spewing BS. Case in point:

“Sarah Palin is not my gal because she thinks the US is in Iraq serving a mission from God.”

Unfortunately, that’s not an accurate representation/paraphrase/statement. It’s simply not. Having had the pleasure to have taken in the rebuttal to this (well, not exactly this blog post – see the part about writing what everyone else already said), I countered with this:

“Come on Myrna. The quote about God is wrong. “I’m paraphrasing” is weak. Put the quote up. She meant she was praying that what we were doing was what God planned. Oops. I said she meant. I mean she SAID that. It’s almost as if you believed another book banning email or something.”

I’ll admit, I was a little sketched out about writing that. I mean, what if there was another quote where she actually said it? Fortunately, that part about writing what everyone else already wrote about held true here, and it was the same quote. The response to me was this (there were two comments that I’ll meld magically into one because they were kinda similar but with some small differences – it was almost like someone wrote them while incredibly angry or something):

“Here are the comments I was paraphrasing. It was reported over a week ago–hardly NOT common knowledge at this point. And the building gas pipelines is God’s will too. “Our national leaders are sending them out on a task from God” Roberta’s explanation doesnt [sic] change the facts or the implication. She also said building the pipeline was God’s will too. She’s nutty, and you’re tiresome. Watch the video.


Sticking by your guns is admirable. At least at this point no evidence has been presented. Considering that, I responded with this:

“Watched it. And it’s exactly what I thought it was. Read this

You’re twisting the meaning. The explanation is there.

And it is there. Not acknowledging what is said in that post is an admission that you do not understand the way Christians work in this case. How can you possibly be qualified to comment on social issues such as religion in politics if you don’t understand the religion? Unfortunately, this is what I got back—the classic goalpost adjustment:

“If Palin wanted to say “pray for the safety of our troops,” okay, but she didn’t. I read the exact quote before posting this days ago and it didnt [sic] make a damn bit of difference to me then and it doesn’t now. Nations do not do God’s will and never should. It’s not appropriate for a politician to say that and I don’t want politicians who think that in office with authority over troops. Every fucking war in the world that wasn’t started for economic reasons was started for religious reasons.”

I happen to agree that religion and government shouldn’t mix. And I also happen to think that it’s awfully scary that people think we’re on some mission from God in Iraq. Sarah Palin, at least by the quote referenced here, does not think that. That was the issue at hand, but we’ve now moved on to what she thinks, as if we’re all mind readers and stuff. Goalposts: moved.

When someone believes in something and hopes (prays) that what his or her nation is doing isn’t going to be difficult to reconcile with that belief, it is not the same thing as thinking the nation is doing God’s will. It is a hope that that person won’t have to stand before God someday and explain himself or herself. I know that because that’s what she said. If when she said that, she was actually thinking something else, I’d like to invite Sarah Palin to correct me.

To continue to insist that it is a belief that the nation is doing God’s will is dishonest, inaccurate, and flat out dumb.

An unwillingness to admit that one is wrong, along with a quick trigger at the first sign of criticism can do that to people.

Start thinking. Stop reacting.

Ryan JerzRyan Jerz is an all-around good guy who wants people to eventually refer to him as "that dude who climbs mountains."

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