politics & history 13 Social Studies Facts Sarah Palin Got Wrong  

Kel Varnsen
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Infamous for her verbal slips and gaffes, Sarah Palin - author, pundit, governor, candidate, grizzled mother or what have you - has often been in trouble with the press for massaging the truth. Of course, there are the outright accusations that Palin lies, including Andrew Sullivan's ongoing, dogged and not-uncreepy investigation into her claims to be Trig Palin's mother. Those are interesting, sure, but they get all the press.

Far more intriguing are just the Sarah Palin goofs and mistakes. The small things that most Americans really should know that she seems to consistently get wrong. It's like she skipped out on all her social studies classes at Wasilla High. Possibly to knock back PBRs with Todd and talk about which girls are putting out. We can't be sure about all Sarah Palin bloopers and blunders, but hopefully they all didn't make it to wikipedia (for her sake).

What are the biggest Sarah Palin mistakes ever? What follows is an incomplete but hopefully still compelling account of Sarah Palin's errors when it comes to history, geography and government. And probably grammar.
1

Paul Revere Warned the British


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During her 2011 "bus tour" across America, Palin stopped in the city of Boston, where she took in some of the local historical sites. Included in the tour was a stop at Paul Revere's shack. While there, Sarah explained to local TV cameras the significance of Revere's famous 1775 "midnight ride," undertaken just before the battles at Lexington and Concord. Unfortunately...she sort of got the entire thing backwards.

According to Palin, Revere rode on horseback and "warned, uh, the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms, uh, by ringing those bells..." As most American school kids are probably already aware, Revere actually rode from Boston to Lexington warning the COLONISTS that the British Army was marching in their direction. (He specifically was hoping to give advance notice of the Army's movements to John hancock and Samuel Adams, who would have likely been arrested by the Redcoats upon their arrival.)

But otherwise...NAILED IT!
2

Sputnik Bankrupted the Soviet Union


Sputnik Bankrupted the Soviet ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 13 Social Studies Facts Sarah Palin Got Wrong
Photo: via Twitter

During President Obama's second State of the Union address, on January 25, 2011, he referred to the present era in America as a "Sputnik moment." The comparison was meant to highlight the need for Americans to get serious about investing in biomedicine, information technology and clean energy in order to remain competitive globally.

Palin, in a discussion with Greta van Susteren on Fox News the following night, took issue with the President's reference to the infamous Soviet satellite that became the first manmade object launched into orbit back in 1957. Calling it a "WTF moment," she argued that Obama "needs to remember that what happened back then with the former communist USSR and their victory in that race to space, yes, they won, but they also incurred so much debt at the time that it resulted in the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union."

Not EXACTLY a good counter to Obama's argument, which didn't say America should exactly emulate the Soviet Union of the 1950s. But fair enough. Except that Sputnik didn't come even close to bankrupting the Soviets. In fact, they didn't get into serious debt trouble until 30 years after Sputnik, and even then it was more a result of excessive military - not technological - investment.
3

The Vice President Runs the Senate


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Back when she was campaigning to be the Vice President in October of 2008, Palin gave an interview to local Colorado TV station KUSA-TV. At the end of the interview, she participated in the station's patented "Questions from the Third Grade" segment. (This was her first mistake...)

When discussing the job of the US Vice President - you know, that job she was actively trying to get - she said that the VP is "in charge of the United States Senate," and could "get in there with the Senators and make a lot of good policy changes."

Now, granted, the Constitution does state that the Vice President of the United States is "President of the Senate..." But if you keep reading the rest of that very same sentence, it also says "but [the VP] shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided." So there's that.

Also, in practice, the VP's job has become more and more ceremonial in the Senate. During his entire tenure as VP, the not-exactly-power-shy Dick Cheney only cast eight tie-breaking votes. So far, Joe Biden has cast exactly none.
4

The Constitution is Based on The Bible


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In May of 2010, Palin appeared on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" to talk about the controversy over the "National Day of Prayer." During the discussion, she boldly announced that the US should base its laws on The Bible, just as the Founding Fathers intended. The full quote:

"I think we should keep this clean, keep it simple, go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant. They’re quite clear that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the 10 commandments, it’s pretty simple."

One would think that if the Founding Fathers were "quite clear" on basing their laws on the 10 Commandments and the Bible, that would have included mentioning any of these concepts in the actual legal document they were preparing...(The words "Jesus Christ," "Christianity," "Bible" and "God" don't ever appear in the actual Constitution. Maybe we should have Nicolas Cage check if it's there in invisible ink!)

Also, one would think that Thomas Jefferson might not have said things like this, if he had set up a government based on The Bible:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."

Come on, T.J., that was bound to be confusing to later generations.