The sophistication of Sarah Palin’s sarcasm

By Sean Pearson
When wielded correctly — and not used for evil — sarcasm in its purest form can be beautiful.
I could give you plenty of examples to support the above statement, but do you really think it would kill you to do a little research yourself every now and then?
According to, a sarcast is “one of a talented few who practices sarcasm as an art.”
Now, I’m not sure if is an accepted and sanctioned reference book for the English language, but it was the first thing that popped up on Google … so it must be somewhat legit.
Truth be told, I didn’t even know there was a name for someone who works in the medium of sarcasm. What I do know, however, is that sarcasm in the hands of the simple, untrained mind can be lethal.
That being said, rumor around town — as well as the rest of the free world — is that there was something of a “throwdown” on the Homer Spit on Saturday between Sarah Palin, and “a local who shall remain nameless.” While Sarah was in town filming “her Alaska,” this “local” hung a banner at the end of the Spit that read: “Worst Governor Ever.”
(Clarification: In this case, the use of the phrase “worst governor ever” is NOT an example of sarcasm. It’s not even ironic. And if you stop to factor Frank Murkowski and his jet into the whole “worst-governor-ever” equation, the whole thing just becomes remarkably depressing.)
I would consider recreating the entire discourse between Palin and the “local” for you in a series of three, two-act operas. Unfortunately, every time I hear the painfully sophomoric attempts at sarcasm lobbied by Palin, I throw up a little bit in the back of my mouth.
It’s hard to sing opera with vomit in your throat.
Thankfully, there’s a video of the exchange floating all over cyberworld. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re obviously extremely out of touch with important media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and MSNBC.
Or, you just live in Homer.
Google it. Watch it. Learn from it.
This, my friends, is an example of how someone painfully naive in the employment of sarcasm can actually do more harm than good.
Seriously, Sarah? You’re confronted with someone who is a teacher, obviously intelligent and articulate, who quite clearly considers you the worst governor ever, and the best you can come up with is high-pitched whining, overly fake enthusiasm, exaggerated gestures and eye-rolls?
I’ve seen 3-year-olds who can show more sophisticated disdain than that.
What would Tina Fey say?
Still, in the spirit of extending the proverbial olive branch — no sarcasm intended — here is yet another helpful tidbit for those of you wanting to develop a better understanding of how sarcasm operates:
According to, sarcasm is an example of what some researchers call “unplain” speaking; ways of speaking in which what is said differs from what is meant.
Geez, you think they could make that any plainer?
And, although sarcasm is technically not deceptive, not everyone grasps the speaker’s true intention during a “sarcastic episode.”
Isn’t that — in fact — what makes it sarcasm?
“So, how do I know when someone is being sarcastic?”
That’s an excellent question.
Sometimes, this can be very difficult to tell. I, personally, think a good practice to get into when confronted with what you think might be sarcasm is to clearly ask, “Is that sarcasm you’re using?”
This may not work in all cases.
Just ask Sarah Palin, as she works toward clearing up what the San Francisco Chronicle is already referring to as the “eye-roll seen ‘round the world.”
Well … at least as far as Russia.

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Posted by on Aug 11th, 2010 and filed under Spiew. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

18 Responses for “The sophistication of Sarah Palin’s sarcasm”

  1. Floyd M. Orr says:

    Thank you for printing such an intelligent response to an embarrassing incident in your town, Sean. It has always baffled me why Sarah Palin never seems to emulate her own hero, Ronald Reagan, when it comes to face-to-face interactions with the public. Reagan was a master politician in this respect. As you said, her reactions are more akin to those of a three-year-old!

  2. Sam Hall says:

    Well said piece written also the comment. Palin seems to only have certain
    traits none of which add one intelligent ways to any topic. Smart aleck comes
    to mind.

  3. EatWildFish says:

    The video clearly shows how awkward and uncomfortable Palin is among ‘real Alaskans’ – and how phony and inept she is when her appearances are not scripted or controlled by her handlers.

    Fish and Game take note: Using her usual Facebook protective shield, Palin said she was fishing for halibut as part of her “family business.” Her family business is salmon in Bristol Bay. Does Palin hold IFQ’s for halibut? As usual, what a crock every time she opens her mouth. She is such an embarrassment to Alaska.

  4. PollyinAK says:

    Great response Sean. What I think is comical, is Mrs. Palin approached (confronted) the woman with the sign, and it didn’t have Palin’s name on it, so, hehe… EVEN Sarah Palin thinks she’s “the worst governor ever”!! ….. (Then Palin’s groupies tore the sign down… Wasn’t it private property?)

  5. Anonymous says:

    “Smart aleck” hits the nail on the head. It is obvious from the video the expression “like mother like daughter” holds true for the Palins.

    • Zoica says:

      No kidding! I saw that, too, and it turned my stomach. Those innocent children have been brainwashed…against TEACHERS, no less.

  6. ella says:

    Well, sarah could always use Willow to handle her PR………some manners she teaches her children.

  7. Sophie Smith says:

    Maybe you should read yourself what other people think??

  8. lonnie says:

    Her daughter Willow said she represents “the United States”, can someone please tell her Sarah Palin isn’t the President. The only person I know who represents the United States is President Obama. Her kids really need to learn manners and go to school and get a “rill” education. For someone who says they have “common sense” she sure doesn’t show it and my message to Sarah is “Grow Up” she seems to be emotionally stuck in grade school.

  9. drpatois says:

    I raise my glass to the nameless Homer local who is a true Alaskan and a hero to the lower 48 and beyond!!!

    Excellent report! Question. If $arah behaved worse than a 3 year old (agreed) where would you place the behavior of the former half-term ex-dude, the “muscle” and their camouflaged daughter?

    We would also, too, love to learn details of the tearing down of the sign, the frisking of private citizens that took place on the dock and whether the Palin clan had licenses to fish for halibut? Please?!

  10. Grasshopper says:

    If you listen closely you can hear the sound of a large lump forming in the throat of the funny looking lady with goggly eyes and go-go boots, when she realizes she is being filmed.

  11. Thank you for this well written article. AND for speaking out. I’m glad that Alaskans are no longer the Sleeping Giant and are seeing her for what she is.

    What is frightening is the way Todd and the other fellow are blocking the camera and walking into that good woman’s space so menacingly. I shudder to think what she would have done (shudder) if she was in the white house and had a similiar incident. Would Todd have contacted the cia to “deal with this?”

    A backer of the constitution, especially free speech? Yeah, right…and I’m the Merry Christmas Barbie and Joe the Plumber is an aristocrat.

    • jobama says:

      Ms G is to be commended. But It was Tina Fey and Katie Couric and Matt Damon and of course Sarah who made all Us alaskans look like freakin Oilfield Trash.

  12. Aksala says:

    Thank you Mr. Pearson for your keen (and humorous) take on Palin’s latest PR debacle. Once again the queen of the grifters is shown to reveal her true, snarky personality when she thinks the world isn’t watching. I guess the last laugh (once again) is on her.

    -Anon in Anchorage

  13. Sharon says:

    Thanks, Mrs. G—you are truly an inspiration!

  14. Fred Marker says:

    What’s wrong with you people in Homer? Palin’s special will bring in a ton of tourists and money to your town and all you can do is trash her. I hope TLC deletes any refereence to Homer when the show airs.

  15. Nan (aka roswellborn) says:

    Thank you for a wonderfully written essay. It seems it takes a teacher to deal with sophomoric behavior. Well done.

    For “Sophie Smith” – the article is inaccurate; the man does not have all his facts in order. Actually, the only “fact” there is the report of a confrontation in Homer between Palin and a resident of Homer.

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