It only took 24 pages.

I picked up the book to give it another try after Thanksgiving. My annoyance with the first 15 pages had faded. All I remembered was the boredom. So, I gave it another shot.

Then, on page 22, she quoted “french writer Blaise Pascal.” I wondered if that was someone I should know from college philosophy or political science. Couldn’t recall, so I made a note to google it.

But within two more pages, when Palin supposedly quotes Plato, I had had enough. I closed the book, put the cover back on and stuck it in the corner.

I’m sorry, but I don’t know anyone who goes around quoting Plato. And does anyone seriously think Sarah Palin is one of the few who has those quotes filed away in her head? Is that supposed to make her sound smart? More likable? Blah.

Wanting to know if she correctly quoted Plato, I googled “Palin and Plato”. Funny. Andrew Sullivan wrote a post with just that title yesterday. His post links to this one by John Mark Reynolds, who is (from what I can tell) a conservative Christian writing for a blog called Evangel related to a magazine called First Things.

He actually got through the book (applause, applause!) and wrote this blog post about it called Rogue Thoughts: Chapter by Chapter on Sarah Palin. About this Plato thing, he writes:

But the ridiculous use of quotes or ?big ideas? from great writers that one does not really read or know should end as well. When Palin artlessly writes: ?Plato said it well, ?Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,?? did she know the context of the quotation? Is it even in Plato? I cannot find it, don?t remember reading it, and I suspect that it is spurious. Can someone give me a reference?

It looks like the sort of thing Google tells you Plato said, but where the reference is impossible to find.

I am willing to bet at this point that Plato never said it, but if he did I am even more willing to bet that Palin and her writer are quote mining. If Plato said such a thing, it was likely in the context of the battle of each man against his lower nature. For Plato the chief battle was the inner one, but Palin uses it to reference our need to sympathize for people?s physical pain and life torments.

It is hard to imagine the Socrates of Phaedo making such a statement. So even if Plato said it (and he wrote so much it is hard to be sure), I am guessing that the context is wrong.

Why do I care? Partly, this is a live blog of my reading and I am a Plato guy so you are stuck with reading what I am thinking, but mostly because I find this kind of misuse of Plato irritating. Why do it? What is gained? Why quote mine?

So, there you go. So much for my adventure with Sarah Palin. I am going to read the rest of Mr. Reynolds’ blog post though. He wraps it up with the ten things he learned from the book.

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