Palin sadly shows that in defending herself she also misses the larger point
I have been very clear over the past few days that Sarah Palin is not to blame for the events in Tuscon last weekend. She did not arm Jared Loughner, there is no evidence she influenced him in any shape or form. In mentioning her in my blog posts on this issue I have merely pointed out that Palin’s words are part of a larger narrative – one that America is by a strong majority seeing as no longer fitting with a future post the attempted assassination of a much loved Congresswoman.
I understand fully that Palin felt the need to defend herself against people who have laid the blame squarely at the feet of the former Governor. It’s not easy being the subject of a feeding frenzy of opinion and rhetoric – much as Gabrielle Gifford felt when her name appeared on a “crosshair” target list in the run up to the november 2011 election. So much so that Gifford herself felt compelled to mention this in the media. Gifford spoke to MSNBC in March 2010 about the threats, vandalism and harrassment she had been on the receiving end of.
For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action,”
Gifford never blamed Sarah for the attention she was now receiving, she merely pointed out that when people use a certain type of rhetoric it can have consequences. As I said, there is no evidence Jared Loughner was influenced by Palin but even the Secret Service noted in 2008 that Palin’s rhetoric had caused a spike in the threats against then Candidate Obama. According the The Telegraph:
The Republican vice presidential candidate attracted criticism for accusing Mr Obama of “palling around with terrorists”…The attacks provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling “terrorist” and “kill him” until the McCain campaign ordered her to tone down the rhetoric….The Secret Service warned the Obama family in mid October that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the Democratic candidate, coinciding with Mrs Palin’s attacks.
The media and America have been waiting for Sarah Palin to comment on the events of the weekend in Arizona and on the attacks, some which I disagree with very much. To some of us though it seemed, with four days gone, Palin’s choose of the day of the memorial for the victims in Arizona to put out a 7 + minute video on her Facebook page to rebut the allegations and accusations that have been flung her way was a little attention seeking. Many felt she deliberatley chose to put out her video to position herself as another “victim” of the shooting.
Although I agree with Palin’s assertion that words are not the sole responsibility of the tragedy in Arizona, but Sarah Palin did a damned good job of at once condemning the rhetoric and yet condoned her own rhetoric by heaping on some more.
As Bob Cesca in a piece for the Huffington Post wrote:
But when she so often contradicts herself, it’s difficult to tell whether Sarah Palin agrees with Sarah Palin.
Sarah had a chance to appear humble, tone down the rhetoric as had once been asked of her before, and at least acknowledge that words can have consequences, but instead she chose to dig her heels in, double down on the defiance and continue with one swoop in her “grievance based politics” (Politico).
Contrast this to the moving speech President Obama gave at the memorial service at the University of Arizona who used his speech to remind “even his critics of his ability to rally disparate Americans around a message of reconciliation” (Politico).
As Politico also notes:
Palin was defiant, making the case in a taped speech she posted online why the nation’s heated political debate should continue unabated even after Saturday’s tragedy in Tucson. And, seeming to follow her own advice, she swung back at her opponents, deeming the inflammatory notion that she was in any way responsible for the shootings a “blood libel.”
In a 7+ minute speech Sarah spent a minute and half speaking about the tragedy – she then spent the remainder of the video talking about her, how she had been wronged, reneweed her attack on the media and her detractors.
And it’s a terrible shame in some respects – if ever there was a time Palin wanted to show she was a leader, this was the time. She started her speech with incredible sympathy and seemed to be mirroring the countrie’s calls for a change in rhetoric – not a an end to passionate speech that as she notes is one of the enduring features of a great America. She channelled her hero President Reagan quoting him saying:
“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” (Full transcript can be found at Politico)
But within moments she contradicted herself and used her speech to attack again showing that she has no intention of joining for the calls to calm the rhetoric.
As The Guardian noted: “the Republicans have a real problem on their hands. Palin thrives where she can persuade her people that the establishment is against her…Let them see what kind of demagogue they’ve unleashed. Nothing would be more fitting than for this most expert retailer of conservative victimhood politics to bring down her own party because of it”.
Now I do not agree with the commentator so much that Palin could bring the party down but if they really want to be seen as credible they really need to wonder and look at the two speeches from Wednesday – which one spoke to the masses more – Sarah Palin who largely used her video to make an unapologetic case for her style of rhetoric and showed she had no intention of changing a single thing – or Barack Obama who used his speech to call the country together and honor the victims of Saturday’s heinous bloodshed.
I know many Palin fans will claim it is only the left that have a problem with Palins video which is a self preservation video as well as a callous attempt to deviate the limelight from the victims to the self made victim. But many on the Right have also condemned Palin, particularly for her use of the term “Blood Libel” which Politico notes is a term used to “refers to the anti-Semitic accusation from the Middle Ages that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood to make matzo for Passover”.
Former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer said: “By using those words she failed to rise above and focus on the victims”
According to SarahPAC Treasurer Tim Crawford, speaking to Politico, the timing of the release of the video was meant to “redirect media attention back to the tragedy and away from the raging political blame game”.
All Palin has served to do is dominate the headlines once again and detracting from what should have been a day of memorial, soul searching, unity and tragic comfort and made it once again about herself. Although she may have also inadvertedly served to bolster the word’s of the President who said the following during his speech:
“Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.”
As Bob Cesca concludes in his Huffington Post piece:
…her nincompoopery and fumbly ignorance was completely eclipsed today by her reprehensible tastelessness, proved by the ill-considered timing of her video, and, even worse, by her unforgivable lack of deference to the men and women who have more than earned our attention for at least one uninterrupted day