The there fetish, for instance — Palin frequently displaces statements with an appended “there,” as in “We realize that more and more Americans are starting to see the light there...” But where? Why the distancing gesture? At another time, she referred to Condoleezza Rice trying to “forge that peace.” That peace? You mean that peace way over there — as opposed to the peace that you as Vice-President would have been responsible for forging? She’s far, far away from that peace.What does it mean to use words that suggest that you see abstractions in your mind in a spatial way? If McWhorter were writing about someone he liked, I'll bet he would posit intelligence. But he concludes that it means that Palin has the mentality of a child:
... The issues, American people, you name it, are “there” — in other words, not in her head 24/7. She hasn’t given them much thought before; they are not her. They’re that, over there....
This reminds me of toddlers who speak from inside their own experience in a related way: they will come up to you and comment about something said by a neighbor you’ve never met, or recount to you the plot of an episode of a TV show they have no way of knowing you’ve ever heard of....It reminds you of that, eh? Exactly why does it remind you of that? A child talking about something he doesn't realize you don't know and Palin talking about ideas as if she visualizes them in an abstract place — those 2 things pop up together in your head. Do you see how easy it would be for me to portray you as childish for jumping from something about Palin to something about toddlers that it reminds you of?
ADDED: I apply McWhorter's theory of childish distancing to the Gettysburg Address.