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Palin and 'Blood Libel'

Sarah Palin recently released a video striking against those she claimed had committed 'blood libel' (by saying violent, martial rhetoric and a vitriolic political atmosphere fostered by Palin and her ilk had contributed to physical violence, as in the case of the recent shooting in Tuscon, AZ). At first, I thought this was the sort of write-first-ask-questions-later, gut-reaction I've become used to seeing in Palin's reported tweets. Then I heard quotes from the release, and watched it myself. It didn't have the diction of the governor's extemporaneous remarks, but instead sounded and looked highly prepared.

Palin almost assuredly did not write this speech herself, or decide to release it without consulting professional advisers. Thinking so, I wondered what political aim her team might have in avoiding the three more obvious, standard, and palatable routes of respectful silence, a brief statement offering sympathy and prayer, or a call for a sort of rhetorical calm. Any of these are fit for a politician with serious aspirations. The last would even allow her to get out in front of the debate about vitriol, and come out looking responsible without having to admit to any past mistakes. Did she take her own path merely to build on her reputation as a rogue? I doubt it.

My guess is she felt it was her sole option if she were to have anything to say in the future. Palin's been trading on martial speech and machismo ever since she stepped on the national stage. If you take away metaphors involving guns or hunting, talk of being a grizzly or a pit-bull, and her attempts to emasculate those who disagree with her, all you're left with is sarcasm--and if you call for civility, you can't go back to that, either, without coming out a pariah. Thus calls for an armistice were not available to her. And because silence, particularly in the face of attacks on her past actions, isn't in her; because Sarah Palin is incapable of turning the other cheek, she had to go after her opponents, no matter how ridiculous or ill-timed the video might have been.

More, had she been patient enough to simply bide her time and stay out of the spotlight while the country mourned, without arguing a case for just the sort of dangerous talk she has become known for, she would not have created a space for her style of politics; she would have been shouted down the moment she took up her same old shtick. But now, her followers and supporters may be able to rest on this charge of 'blood libel', painting Palin as the victim, rather than the aggressor, whenever people decry her approach.

Will it work? Not on a large enough scale for Sarah to be a workable national candidate any time soon, but it will almost surely leave her enough room on conservative talk radio, Fox News, and the rest of the right-wing circuit to keep the money and attention flowing in. I'm betting that's fine with her. Though she may still entertain higher aspirations, at present, it matters little that her arguments are absurd, and less that she uses words and phrases she doesn't understand. What does matter right now is her continued viability as a commodity on cable television.

A pitiable, bizarre, unwelcome, but clever move, and as bold as ever. Is it good for the country? No, but it might be good for Sarah Palin.


  1. Sarah Palin scares the crap out of me.

    Happily I live in Canada.

    Wonder if she can see Canada from her window too ?

    Good luck.

  2. Like Sybil, Palin makes me glad to live outside of the US (I've got a whole ocean to protect me) but not because she scares me, despite her overactive hunter-killer attitude. What makes me glad not to be in the US is that she will never, ever, ever be able to govern over me. In Britain, we just see her as something to be laughed about. Got to say, though, she is the logical successor to George W.

  3. Sarah Palin..... Oh! my god!


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