At Slate.com, a grammarian (Kitty Burns Florey) tries her hand at deciphering, through traditional diagramming, Sarah Palin’s peculiar way of putting together “sentences.”
In the example below, Florey can’t do it:
“I know that John McCain will do that and I, as his vice president, families we are blessed with that vote of the American people and are elected to serve and are sworn in on January 20, that will be our top priority is to defend the American people.”
I didn’t stop to marvel at the mad thrusting of that pet political watchword “families” into the text. I just rolled up my sleeves and attempted to bring order out of the chaos:
I had to give up. This sentence is not for diagramming lightweights. If there’s anyone out there who can kick this sucker into line, I’d be delighted to hear from you. To me, it’s not English—it’s a collection of words strung together to elicit a reaction, floating ands and prepositional phrases (“with that vote of the American people”) be damned. It requires not a diagram but a selection of push buttons.
I thought Florey’s conclusion about Palin’s words and phrases being “push buttons” was a keen insight.
Simply inserting (randomly) words like “family” into a Palin “sentence” can probably illicit the Pavlovian response she desires of her base audience.