Wednesday, October 22, 2008

They do both start with PRE

Sarah Palin just told Brian Williams that she defines precondition as 'strategy'. In other words, when she says Obama will sit down with dictators without preconditions, she believes that what that means is that Obama will go to sit with dictators for the hell of it, and with no established plan or purpose for the talks.

Okay, if that were the definition of preconditions, I would finally understand why people have been so against this idea of meeting without them.

Of course, this is not the definition of precondition. That is much closer to the definition of the word preparation. A precondition is requirement established by a figure of authority that must be met by the subordinate prior to a reward. In this case, the president would be the figure of authority, the subordinate would be a dictator or whomever, the reward would be the meetings, and the precondition would be something akin to displaying a commitment to democracy or human rights. In other words, Barack Obama will not stipulate that Kim Jong-il or whomever renounce his evil ways as a condition for the two meeting.

What Sarah Palin thinks, apparently, is that Obama plans on meeting with dictators with no idea as to what the meeting is going to be about, no concept of what may be the desired result, and no strategy as to how to get that accomplished. In other words, she heard people call Obama's position naive, knew that was supposed to be her opinion, and then used her imagination to figure out what a naive person would forget to do when meeting with bad people...STRATEGY!

Of course, Obama has repeatedly asserted that he would not schedule meetings without necessary preparations. His critics have long considered this to be a case of Obama parsing language, and stepping away from his original position.

But it's not parsing to know the meaning of words, and to use them properly. It's not parsing to make note of the fact that your critics are misunderstanding or misrepresenting your position by imposing false definitions on the words you've used. It's called getting it right the first time, and standing up for yourself when you know you're right.

Not to sound too forgiving of Obama or anything, but throughout this campaign, he's taken simple and uncontroversial positions, but because his opponents so resented having to run against a rookie, they deemed any opportunity to condescend to be an opportunity they could not pass up. Intellectual honesty be damned.

On the bright side, this is not a case of Palin lacking in scruples, it's a case of her lacking the basic knowledge and skill set that should have been a prerequisite to her being selected for the position she's in today.

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