Hubris, Nemesis, and Partying Like It's 1773

When Sarah Palin told a Tea Party crowd last Monday that it wasn’t time yet to “party like it's 1773," segments of the left such as Kos's founder Markos Moulitsas chortled at her supposed stupidity. Their kneejerk assumption was that Palin was so ignorant that she didn't even know the date of early events in the American Revolution. But since it was actually the Boston Tea Party (1773) to which she was referring, it was Sarah who had the last laugh.

Yes, it's a funny story. But it has a serious side -- and contains a lesson for the left, if they could ever learn it. The message is this: if you misunderestimate (Bush's word) your opposition, that's a form of hubris. And when hubris arrives, can nemesis be far behind?

But the left has such a low opinion of Sarah Palin's intelligence and knowledge that they frequently assume not only that she is ignorant of the more subtle details of history that are easily grasped by leftist intellectuals, but that she lacks even the sort of basic information about American history that used to be taught to every grade school student.

That is a mistake of epic proportions, not only because Palin might surprise them by coming across better than they have come to expect, but because it can lead them directly to the sort of pitfalls that lie in wait for those who make such arrogant assumptions. Just a drop of respect for Palin's knowledge -- or, at the very least, her speechwriter’s and/or fact checker’s--would have led them to take a mere moment to research her 1773 reference. That effort would have been quickly rewarded. But their certainty led them to make automatic assumptions, and then directly into an embarrassing error.