Palin’s Test

Palin’s Test – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Then there is the usual shocking and inflammatory language. At a time when nerves are truly frayed, when blood lies on the ground, Palin offers us this:

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.

Notice the paranoid and conspiratorial word: “manufacture.” Now recall what actually happened, which is that a congresswoman was shot through the head after being subjected to extraordinary levels of hatred and demonization and threats. Because that very congresswoman had herself complained at the time of the “consequences” of Palin’s metaphorical use of cross-hairs, reporters, bloggers and regular human beings on Facebook made that obvious connection.

There was nothing “manufactured” about this. It was the most obvious set of observations to be made in the immediate aftermath. To call this understandable concern about the impact of violent rhetoric and imagery on disturbed minds a manufactured “blood libel” – equating critics of extreme rhetoric of being the equivalent of Nazis or medieval anti-Semites – is to up the ante at a time when leaders really need to calm emotions. We know this much right now: Palin does not possess the self-awareness, responsibility or composure to respond to crises like this with grace. This message – even at a time of national crisis – was a base-rousing rallying cry, perpetuating her own victimhood and alleged bloodthirstiness of her opponents.

One would have thought that Palin, like any responsible person in her shoes right now, could have mustered some sort of regret about the unfortunate coincidence of what she had done in the campaign and what happened afterwards. Wouldn’t you? If you had publicly defended a map with cross-hairs on a congresswoman’s district, and that congresswoman had subsequently been shot, would you not be able to express even some measure of regret at what has taken place, even while denying, rightly, any actual guilt? Could you not even acknowledge the possibility that your critics have and had a point, including the chief Palin-critic on this, who happens to be struggling for her life in hospital, Gabrielle Giffords.

But no. That would require acknowledging misjudgment. Palin cannot acknowledge misjudgment, as she cannot admit error. It would require rising to an occasion, rather than sinking to it. And to moderate that tone, to acknowledge that one can make an error, to defend oneself from unfair accusations while acknowledging the need for a calmer discourse in future – this is beyond her.

It is, of course, also her strategy.


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9 comments on “Palin’s Test

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  1. We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of protesters over the course of the last several months. Our office corner has really become an area where the Tea Party movement congregates. And the rhetoric is incredibly heated. Not just the calls, but the emails, the slurs. So things have really gotten spun up. But you gotta think about it. Our democracy is a light, a beacon really around the world, because we effect change at the ballot box, and not because of these outbursts — of violence in certain cases, and the yelling, and it’s just … you know, change is important, it’s a part of our process, but it’s really important that we focus on the fact that we have a democratic process.”

    “I think it’s important for all leaders, not just leaders of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party … community leaders, figures in our community to say, ‘Look, we can’t stand for this.’ I mean, this is a situation where people really need to realize that the rhetoric, and firing people up, and even things … For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. And when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.”

    “In the years that some of my colleagues have served, twenty, thirty years, they’ve never seen it like this. We have to work out our problems by negotiating, working together, hopefully Democrats and Republicans.”

    –Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, March 25, 2010.

  2. Sullivan is unintentionally funny, unlike Hugh Laurie, who intends to be
    in a dark vein. The attention was focused so clearly on the right, that
    the classic “Slacker” redolent with thoughts of a “Scanner Darkly” and ‘Donnie Darko” crept up beside them, with the Sheriff well aware, he
    had let him slip through, perhaps the reason why he was not revealed
    for hours on end.

  3. @ CK MacLeod:

    We don’t need a professional!!!!

    the Sheriff well aware, he
    had let him slip through, perhaps the reason why he was not revealed
    for hours on end

    Sully could work wonders with that.

  4. Incompetence is the order of the day, maybe the sheriff doesn’t know he’s providing assistance to the defense team,

  5. @ fuster:
    Especially considering how the evil Koranists persuaded people that the word “Sheriff” is Arabic in origin, part of the other conspiracy never far from the minds of all right-thinking Americans.

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