Politically we are miles apart. For Perry, it is all about downsizing the federal government and giving more authority to the states. But at a human level, I was right there with him as he struggled to recall the three federal agencies that he would disband should he be elected president in 2012.
Wearing a dark suit and a red power tie, Perry stood tall behind the podium. All was well. Forcefully, employing Texas-speak, he told the audience, “It’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone.” And then, beginning the count with his thumb (a strange choice to start with), he said, “Commerce, Education and — the, uh– What’s the third one there?… Let’s see…”
And his mind went blank. His face registered a deer-frozen-in-the-headlights moment. The 50 seconds stretched like a rubber band drawn by an unseen hand… thinner and thinner yet. I held my breath waiting for the rubber band to snap.
The 50-second pause was dramatic. So dramatic that the video of his stumble was the most watched video in the U.S. this morning. If you didn’t catch the program live, you can see it here. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/la-pn-perry-debate-flub-20111109,0,4875053.story
It was easy enough for me to identify with Perry because only minutes before his gaffe, I had tried to remember Sarah Palin’s name. I wanted to say something about her, but her name escaped me. I went through the alphabet. Sometimes just an initial letter will trigger the name. Finally, I blurted, “What’s the name of the former governor of Alaska… I can’t think.”
“How about Sarah Palin?”
“Palin, yes, Sarah Palin.”
The commercial was over and it was back to the debate. Perry’s problems left mine in the dust. But later, tossing and turning the night away, I tried once again to remember… the former governor of Alaska… from Wasillia… married to Tod… hunter… guns… glasses… good legs… straight skirts… mother of Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig. Tea Party Sweetheart… Momma Grizzly.
I tried the alphabet again. Nothing came to mind.
I imagined myself in Alaska. That woman… the former governor of Alaska… and I were snowmobiling. She was driving too fast. I wanted to tell her to slow down, but I couldn’t remember her name.
Finally I woke my husband. “That woman from Alaska… she was the Republican nominee for vice president in 2008…”
“Right.” And I immediately thought S.P.S.P.S.P.S.P.
If you were to ask me today, I could give you Sarah Palin’s name. I go by a circuitous route. First I think S.P.; then I think Standard and Poor’s; and finally, I come to Sarah Palin.
When Perry stepped off stage, he said that his momentary lapse just made him more human.
Me too. I’m oh so human.
Recently a friend sent me an email and at the end of her letter she suggested that I circle all the nouns in her note and write a 5-minute piece in which I used all the nouns. The exercise took more than five minutes, but it was quite fun, and the words took me to unexpected places. Try it.