How Palin Should Have Responded to the Tucson Shootings

What Palin Needed to Say After Giffords’ Shooting | FrumForum


Palin and her supporters had some justice on their side. Obviously, Palin never intended to summon people to harm Representative Giffords. There was no evidence that the shooter was a Palin follower, and in short order it became evident that he was actuated by a serious mental illness. Whatever you think about Palin’s “don’t retreat, reload” rhetoric, it could not be blamed for this crime.

So – argument won? No. Argument lost.

Palin failed to appreciate the question being posed to her. That question was not: “Are you culpable for the shooting?” The question was: “Having put this unfortunate image on the record, can you respond to the shooting in a way that demonstrates your larger humanity? And possibly also your potential to serve as leader of the entire nation?”

Here it seems to me are the elements of such an answer.

1. Take the accusation seriously. That does not mean you accept the accusation, nor even that you explicitly acknowledge it. But understand why people – not all of them necessarily out to get you – might feel negatively about this past action in light of current events.

2. Express real grief and sincere compassion. “My condolences are offered” is not the language of someone whose heart is much troubled.

* * *

7. Think what you would like – not your supporters – but your opponents to say about you. “She was tough, but never a hater.” “No matter how strongly she disagreed, she was always gracious.” “I might not agree with her answer, but I could see she had thought hard about it.” Then, having thought about it, go be that person.

8. Last: suppose you were president right now. The country would want you to say something about this terrible crime. What is that something? Say it now.

Of course, Palin has yet to give the answer called for by events.  Instead, her rapid response operation has focused on pounding home the message that Palin is innocent, that she has been unfairly maligned by hostile critics. Which in this case happened to be a perfectly credible message. And also perfectly inadequate. Palin’s post-shooting message was about Palin, not about Giffords. It was defensive, not inspiring. And it was petty at a moment when Palin had been handed perhaps her last clear chance to show herself presidentially magnanimous.


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Writing since ancient times, blogging, e-commercing, and site installing-designing-maintaining since 2001; WordPress theme and plugin configuring and developing since 2004 or so; a lifelong freelancer, not associated nor to be associated with any company, publication, party, university, church, or other institution. 

Categorized as Miscellany

By CK MacLeod

Writing since ancient times, blogging, e-commercing, and site installing-designing-maintaining since 2001; WordPress theme and plugin configuring and developing since 2004 or so; a lifelong freelancer, not associated nor to be associated with any company, publication, party, university, church, or other institution. 


  1. The Second Amendment begins with the words, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” In what way does the right of individuals to bear arms have anything to do with a militia, or with its being well regulated? The Second Amendment must have meant something in 1791, when it was passed, but today it is gibberish.

    New York City has the lowest crime rate of all the major cities in the United States. One of the reasons is that New York State has strict gun-control laws. On the other hand, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Huntsville–and most recently, Tucson–were places where tragedies occurred because of inadequate gun control.

  2. @ George Jochnowitz:Much as i would like to agree with you, the rest of the Second Amendment……the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. still stands.

    Were the right entirely dependent on the maintenance of a well-regulated militia, the provision (Art I Sec Eight) that allows to the Congress the authority ” To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia…”
    would allow it to deny arms to everyone.

    Gun control is not going to happen any time soon for reasons political, legal and practical.

  3. @ fuster:
    The amendment is one single sentence. The introductory clause is a part of that sentence which was put there for a reason.
    I assume the word “People” means “nation” in the context of the amendment.

  4. @ fuster:
    So you’re saying the authors of the amendment wanted to make sure that every single person, including crazy nuts and enemies of the United States, should have the right to be armed to the teeth.
    I will grant that in 1791 there was no anticipation that groups as fanatic as al-Qaeda would come into being.
    But they did know about slaves. Since a slave was three-fifths of a person, according to the Constitution at that time, five slaves would equal three people, who therefore would have the right to be armed.

  5. @ George Jochnowitz:
    I’m saying, George, that the people who had lately thrown off the hand of the Crown were quite unwilling to allow any government ability to disarm the people of America.
    Yes George, not only the authors, but most everybody in the country meant that Amendment to guarantee the right of people to be armed to the teeth, and possibly behind the ears as well. Things wuz different, conditions have mostly changed, but the words and their meaning have not.

  6. George, take ten minutes and read through Art I Sec 8.

    Note what it says about “Army” and contrast that to what it says about the Militia.

    Then note that the ten amendments which constitute the Bill of Rights were put there as guarantees against the federal government’s possible usurpation of all power.

    The concern was that Americans were not willing to be disarmed. They were determined to differ from the commoners in Europe, who were not allowed arms, and who could not defend themselves against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    These people did not trust the US government with a standing army that they would be powerless to oppose by force of arms.

    Now, as I said, things are not the same, and you and I would both prefer that the lunacy involved in allowing every 21 year old not yet convicted of felony to legally own a couple of Glocks, several shotguns, and a half-dozen rifles not be the law of the land, but ’tis, George, ’tis.

  7. @ fuster:
    Here’s a line from Article I section 8:
    “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.”
    What in the name of heaven can that have to do with letting any old nut buy weapons? That doesn’t suppress insurrections; it enables them.
    The amendment may have had something to do with militias once, but it doesn’t today. What militias might one be thinking of?

  8. @ George Jochnowitz:
    George, if you’re ready for some more reading, try the Militia Act of 1792……..

    here’s an excerpt…..

    I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act. And it shall at all time hereafter be the duty of every such Captain or Commanding Officer of a company, to enroll every such citizen as aforesaid, and also those who shall, from time to time, arrive at the age of 18 years, or being at the age of 18 years, and under the age of 45 years (except as before excepted) shall come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrollment, by the proper non-commissioned Officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack.

    not only was every(male)body allowed to be armed,…they were required to arm themselves.

  9. @ fuster:
    The militia described in that law was well regulated. It doesn’t exist today. What well-regulated militia is it that is served by letting people own weapons?
    Of course, One could easily imagine a well-regulated militia composed of a coalition between the KKK and al-Qaeda.
    I guess a member of such a group certainly needs the right to be armed to his or her teeth.

  10. An unbalanced person, with a narrow grasp of reality is told, that the
    largest popular movement in recent history is not only astroturfed but it’s intent is to bring about tyranny, that any supporter of SB 1070 is abetting a cruel, racist, possibly criminal enterprise, that a heart felt appeal against a provocation in lower Manhattan is a sign of intolerance, I say, those that propagated those views from the leading editorial boards, from the penthouse floors of network boardrooms. they have ‘blood on their hands’, and their is no telling how much further violence can come from weak souls buying into their ‘two minute hate’

  11. @ miguel cervantes:
    miggs, the law is so bad that Arizona had to amend it after one whole week.

    against a provocation in lower Manhattan

    that’s a crock, miggs and you’re being foolish in trying to call it a provocation.

  12. I’m really struck about how mendacious someone like Frum can be, a two bit thug like Loughner, protected by the likes of Sheriff Dupnik, can murder and maim with inpunity, but the focus is on someone so far
    removed from what passes for his mental processes,it matters more to score a political point, than to seek justice, in character if not in scope, it begins to resemble the OJ Simpson trial, where there was really no doubt of the guilt, but it didnt matter, in so far as another
    agenda could be satisfied.

  13. Turns out that there was a reasonable doubt as to Simpson’s guilt on the minds of a dozen people.

    The rules here are different.

  14. Nope, they didn’t care to look at the facts, which would have been a more honest stand considering experiences of some of the jurors, but the fact that one cop’s off the record embellishments trying to paint himself as an Ellroyesque character, shouldn’t have entered into any of the deliberations.

  15. @ miguel cervantes:
    miggs, we may not agree with the jury’s verdict, but how do we know that they didn’t care to look at the facts or honestly consider thimgs?

    were the jury mainly Islamists or commie liberals or what? were they bribed or imposters or not legally empaneled? did the judge give the jury an erroneous charge?

  16. Because they said so, fifteen year ago, next thing you’re going to tell me is Sharpton didn’t slander the police officer and the DA in the Tawana Brawley trial, that was his entree into the big time

  17. Yes, he had one of his flunkies pay the bill, big deal, neither that incident or Freddie’s fashion mart, really prevented him from having
    a seat at the table, in fact, he is getting a chance to determine FCC

  18. Cant believe you’re bringing the Simpson case into this.

    Even if Palin didn’t have some slip showing in a rather chilling way – up to the point that Giffords herself offered a premonitory warning after she was “targeted” – she should have handled this differently if she aspires to be a national leader – not just a leader of the Tea Party Americans, whoever they are, but of the whole country. That’s what Frum’s very reasonable analysis was about. Her conduct suggests that she either doesn’t really want to be one or has no concept of what it requires, so doesn’t deserve to be treated as one. I heard a conservative analyst ably defending her today – but who felt compelled to bookend his defense front and back with how irrelevant she has become to questions of national leadership or even leadership of the Republican Party or conservative movement. That’s what those Intrade numbers also show.

    That’s okay. That’s fine. There are something like 310,000,000 upstanding Americans just like her in that respect. Doesn’t have anything to do with what you believe about the role of Beckist insanity on our political life or what motivated Loughner.

  19. @ miguel cervantes:
    William Jacobson also doesn’t get it. “Innocent of the crime” is not much of a platform for national leadership. 310,000,000 other Americans are also pretty much innocent of the crime, except in the deepest sense – which, however, is where a moral leader begins.

  20. @ fuster:
    The OJ jurors said that the prosecution didn’t prove his guilt. As someone who watched the trial from beginning to end, I can say that in my opinion they were right according to the rules of the system. The prosecuting team was incredibly incompetent, and the defense was rather brilliant. Some of the jurors made it clear that they believed OJ probably was guilty, but they couldn’t find him guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt based on what the prosecution gave them to work with. They were vilified for not taking more time to reach their decision, but that was mostly from people who were thoroughly convinced of OJ’s guilt, as I was at the time, but who didn’t quite comprehend what had transpired.

  21. @ CK MacLeod:

    pu-lease. nothing in our political system calls for great moral leadership. Clinton ran a competent administration. So did the first Bush.

    it would be swell if she were a merely a mensch, but she’s a woman of modest abilities. nothing wrong with that. Ozzy Osbourne does OK with what he has to offer.

  22. fuster wrote:

    pu-lease. nothing in our political system calls for great moral leadership. Clinton ran a competent administration. So did the first Bush.

    “Great moral leadership” is your phrase. I’m not sure how often that comes along at all in history. It’s called for in rare moments – the greater, the rarer.

    As for moral leadership, great or merely adequate, it’s not our “political system” that calls for it, but our national culture – you might even say our humanity. We not only ask of it from our presidents, we require it. That’s something our political system implies and makes room for, even though it’s a not purely political function, but that’s because politics is never merely politics. As for the kind of moral leadership that Bush 41 and Clinton exercised, that’s a complex discussion, but I think each in his own way embodied a certain kind of appealing humility about the limits of political power, and that’s also a form of moral leadership that you seem to respond to positively.

  23. No, I would say using the mass murder of hundreds of your countrymen
    to stigmatize your political opponents, as Dick Morris, counseled Clinton
    to do, was a failure of moral leadership, and hell it works, because Mark Penn has recommended the same strategy. for Obama. Which
    he will adopt, because that is the Alinsky way, as they say ‘you pull a
    knife, they pull a gun. They send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue’ It also matches whatever radio frequencies Laughner may have been receiving on his fillings, from Fox Piven, and Van Jones, who have a very insurrectionary flavor to them

  24. @ miguel cervantes:

    miggs, what would you say about using the mass murder of thousands of your fellow citizens and the offices of the Vice-President and Secretary of Defense to institute secret prisons and torture and to illegally read and listen to the communications of your fellow citizens?

    That’s almost as bad as giving unethical political advice, isn’t it?

  25. miguel cervantes wrote:

    No, I would say using the mass murder of hundreds of your countrymen
    to stigmatize your political opponents, as Dick Morris, counseled Clinton
    to do, was a failure of moral leadership, and hell it works, because Mark Penn has recommended the same strategy.

    Exposing and indicting demagogues for pandering to and whipping up paranoia and hatred is always a good thing to do, even if done under the tutelage of morally dubious opportunists.

    The part where Van Jones talked up 2nd Amendment remedies and endlessly shrilled about agents of foreign powers and alien ideologies being hell-bent on destroying Real America and instituting a death panel tyranny… yeah that was some pretty strong stuff…

  26. Van Jones talks revolution, like Fox Piven, ‘top down, bottom up, inside
    out’, the examples of Greece are certainly intended, Btw, Reid in his interview in GQ, compares the Tea Party to the Couglinites, a rather
    trite and shopwarn comparison, but in the air nonetheless.

  27. miguel cervantes wrote:

    ‘top down, bottom up, inside

    that’s sort of the way you argue things.

    I would appreciate it if you could show me where Prof Piven calls for a full-blown, blood-n-guts revolution in this country.
    That doesn’t sound much like the lady.

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