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Mr. Revere's latest ride

I had no inclination to write about Sarah Palin’s peculiar remarks about Paul Revere. Correcting her errors, or those of Michelle Bachmann, merely confirms to supporters that the Wicked Leftist Establishment News Media are out to cut down the righteous. (You remember how the WLENM attempted to torpedo Newt Gingrich’s candidacy by repeating statements he made in a televised interview.)

But Andrew Malcolm, writing in the Los Angeles Times, asserts that Ms. Palin was correct and the rest of us have been bamboozled by slanted press coverage.

The core of his argument is that “Revere was captured by said redcoats and did indeed defiantly warn them of the awakened militia awaiting their arrival ahead and of the American Revolution's inevitable victory.”

“Palin knew this. The on-scene reporters did not and ran off like Revere to alert the world to Palin's latest mis-speak, which wasn't.”

You might want to have a look at what Ms. Palin said, as quoted by Mr. Malcolm: "He who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringing those bells, and um, makin' sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed."

It seems fairly clear to me, even in Palinian syntax, that the effect of this statement is that Revere set out to warn the British about colonists’ determination to keep and use their arms. But Mr. Malcolm’s own text establishes that Revere spoke defiantly to the British after he was captured. That is, his initial purpose, to warn John Hancock and John Adams that they were in danger of arrest, was accomplished, and his defiance to the British—surely it was not his intention to be captured—was incidental.

Mr. Malcolm’s effort to restore Ms. Palin’s credibility on this point does not look much different in kind from the efforts of Palin partisans to rewrite the Wikipedia entry on Paul Revere to conform to her statements.

I may flatter myself to think that you, the readers of this blog, are impressed by fact-based journalism. If so, as an extra today, I’d like to offer you an analysis by Bruce Bartlett, who served Republican administrations, about the relative tax burdens of U.S. and European citizens. Have a look, and decide for yourselves how you want to think about the commonplace statement that Americans groan under an oppressive tax burden.



Posted by John McIntyre at 11:17 AM | | Comments (2)


We are not now that strength which, in old days, moved Lexington and Concord.

Much abides, but Lexington and Concord are not the brightest of battle honours.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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