Sarah Palin's Muddled Defense of Her Paul Revere Gaffe

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Last week, as her "One Nation" tour went through Boston, Sarah Palin stopped by the Freedom Trail, which winds past historic landmarks including Paul Revere's house. Palin breathlessly described on her blog that "there's so much history here. It's amazing..." Unfortunately for Palin, much of it was lost on her. She offered, let's say, an alternative version of the famous midnight ride of Paul Revere. Her rambling take soon went viral on the internet (video below):

He who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms uh by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free and we were going to be armed.

Let's summarize what's incorrect about this: everything. Paul Revere did not send any messages or warnings to British soldiers, about our guns or otherwise. He sent a message to the Minutemen warning them the British were coming, so they would be ready. He did not send warning shots or ring bells. It was a stealth operation, and he instructed someone to put either one or two lights in the tower, as a code for how the British were arriving -- "one if by land, two if by sea" -- which is the most famous line in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem on the legend.

Today on Fox News Sunday, Palin told Chris Wallace that she was standing by her statement. "I didn't mess up," she said. "I know my American history." This is her explanation:

"He warned the Americans that the British were coming, the British were coming, that we 've got to make sure we were protecting ourselves and shoring up all of our ammunitions and firearms so that they couldn't take it. But remember that the British had already been there, many soldiers for seven years in that area. Part of Paul Revere's ride, and it wasn't just one ride, he was a courier, he was a messenger, part of his ride was to warn the British.that were already there, 'Hey you're not going to succeed, you're not going to take American arms, you are not going to beat our own, well-armed persons, individual, private militia.' He did warn the British."

The only thing that could make this description more convoluted would be if Palin then blamed the press for her mistake. Then Palin blames the press for her mistake, calling it "a shot-out, gotcha-type of question that was asked of me."

But no matter. Her fans are apparently editing Paul Revere's Wikipedia page to make it more in line with her version. Longfellow may be no match for Sarah Palin.

Video of Palin's flub.

Palin on Chris Wallace.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.