HALF-TERM GOVERNOR BREAKS HER SILENCE…. As tempted as I am to simply ignore former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R) latest statement, I suppose there’s no point in pretending it’s not of some interest to the political world this morning.
Palin has been unusually quiet since Saturday’s massacre in Tucson, and as interest in the toxicity of political rhetoric has grown more intense, her role in cheapening and dragging down our discourse has generated a fair amount of attention.
Today, Palin broke her silence issuing a video, which is nearly eight minutes long. It’s a standard tactic — the right-wing media personality can’t subject herself to questions or muster the confidence to deal with cross-examinations, so to communicate, Palin’s forced to hide behind statements others write for her, and then upload them. It’s not exactly the stuff Profiles in Courage are made of.
In any case, the statement/video is about what one might expect. Palin, speaking from Alaska with an American flag over her right shoulder, has no regrets and no apologies to offer. Instead, she’s concerned about “blood libel.”
“If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”
I don’t imagine Palin actually knows what “blood libel” means, but historically, it’s referred to the ridiculous notion of Jews engaging in ritual killings of Christian children. More commonly, it’s a phrase intended to convey the suffering of an oppressed minority.
In other words, Palin is apparently feeling sorry for herself, again, using a needlessly provocative metaphor that casts her as something of a martyr.
I was also struck in the same paragraph by the notion that media figures are “inciting” “hatred and violence.” Palin didn’t cite any examples, so I don’t know what she’s referring to, but there is something odd about the accusation. As she sees the events in Tucson, a “deranged, apparently apolitical criminal” committed a despicable act, but that’s no reason to “claim political rhetoric is to blame.” That’s a defensible argument. But if that’s the case, why is Palin concerned about criticisms from pundits “inciting the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn”?
Excessive political rhetoric is fine, but criticizing those who engage in excessive political rhetoric is fomenting violence? How does that work, exactly?
Palin went on to note that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) participated in the reading of the Constitution on the House floor last week, and happened to read the First Amendment.
“It was a beautiful moment and more than simply “symbolic,” as some claim, to have the Constitution read by our Congress. I am confident she knew that reading our sacred charter of liberty was more than just ‘symbolic.’ But less than a week after Congresswoman Giffords reaffirmed our protected freedoms, another member of Congress announced that he would propose a law that would criminalize speech he found offensive.”
I agree that responding to the tragedy by curtailing the First Amendment would be a mistake, but let’s be clear about the context: what Palin chooses to overlook is that Giffords has taken a leading role in trying to lower the temperature of those who engage in rhetorical excesses, and specifically complained publicly about Palin’s use of rifle crosshairs targeting Giffords’ district just last year.
To suggest that Giffords and Palin are on the same page on this is at odds with reality.
And with that, the former half-term governor will probably go back into hiding for a while, content with the knowledge that the media will air her video over and over again, and that she need not have the courage to answer questions to get her message out.
Palin had an opportunity to step up, demonstrate some real leadership, and prove to everyone that she deserves a role on the national stage. That opportunity is now gone, and Palin has failed.