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The conversation about Sarah Palin's official post-Arizona statement: She really messed this one up

The day after the Tucson massacre, Sarah Palin aide Rebecca Mansour joined Tammy Bruce's radio program to discuss that infamous "cross-hairs map."  First of all, they were surveyor symbols, Mansour said. And second, the map wasn’t even designed in-house. (As if that makes the Palin camp any less responsible for the map it commissioned, which Palin herself then promoted on her Facebook page.)

Of course, Palin had nothing to do with Saturday's horrific turn of events, and even if you don't like her, it's hard not to feel bad that she's been unfairly connected to Tucson. Still, it did initiate a discussion that was long overdue about the general state of our political discourse: Is it responsible to have a political conversation that's charged with so many violent metaphors? And has it helped create a culture of overreacting?

Palin's response to that: Nope, I'm not changing. "Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere."

Predictably, she also deflected any heat over her "reload" rhetoric by pointing a finger at the media for "manufactur[ing] a blood libel that serves only to incite the hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible."

In using "blood libel," a term rooted in anti-Semitism, however, she created a bigger mess for herself. Quoting from James Oliphant's Los Angeles Times article, Sarah Palin's charge of 'blood libel' spurs outcry from Jewish leaders

"Instead of dialing down the rhetoric at this difficult moment, Sarah Palin chose to accuse others trying to sort out the meaning of this tragedy of somehow engaging in a 'blood libel' against her and others," said David Harris, president of the National Democratic Jewish Council, in a statement. "This is of course a particularly heinous term for American Jews, given that the repeated fiction of blood libels are directly responsible for the murder of so many Jews across centuries -- and given that blood libels are so directly intertwined with deeply ingrained anti-Semitism around the globe, even today."

Even conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg is with us on this one. Blogging for NRO, he said:

"I should have said this a few days ago, when my friend Glenn Reynolds introduced the term to this debate. But I think that the use of this particular term in this context isn't ideal. Historically, the term is almost invariably used to describe anti-Semitic myths about how Jews use blood -- usually from children -- in their rituals. I agree entirely with Glenn’s, and now Palin"s, larger point. But I’m not sure either of them intended to redefine the phrase, or that they should have."

Here's what she could have said, so well put by the Washington Post's Ezra Klein:  

Imagine if Palin had come out and said, "My initial response was to defend the fact that I had never condoned such violence, and never would. But the fact is, if I in any way contributed to an unhealthy political climate, I have to be more careful and deliberate in my public language rather than merely sharpen my defenses." That would've been leadership: It would have made her critics look small, and it would've made her look big. Those who doubted whether Palin could rise to an occasion that called for more than sharp partisanship would've been silenced.

What do you make of Palin's remarks? Do you give her video a thumbs-up, as Ed Morrissey did over on Hot Air? Or were you offended by her statement?


The Gabrielle Giffords conversation continues: Looking for meaning in Tucson

More on vitriol and violence

Two gay heroes thwart assassinations -- what a difference 35 years make

Shooting from the lip in reaction to Gabrielle Giffords tragedy

The exploitive rhetoric of tragedy

-- Alexandra Le Tellier


Comments () | Archives (72)

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With today's video, Sarah Palin has backed herself into an ideological corner, and exposed the profoundly incoherent contradictions of her political philosophy to an irrecoverable degree, all of which she will be unable to debate on her own in future live political forums without the help of a teleprompter. I think her future as a viable US presidential contender is over.


"And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, then quit after a while to do something else..."


I agree that Sarah Palin has nothing to do directly with the tragic event in Tucson. However, her vitriol comments against those who are on the opposing political views leading up to the massacre of the innocent people at the Safeway parking area had greatly contributed to the murderous action by a deranged person. Image if someone would post in the Internet the crosshairs symbol ovelayed with Palin's picture? -- That action is certainly immoral -- and maybe even criminal -- and will never be acceptable even in the arena of dirty politics.


Umm Palin for President Yay. Democrats rejoice.


This lady is a travesty in every sense of the word. Where did things go so wrong in this country where there are actually people embracing this train wreck of a half wit?


Sarah: Your 15 minutes of fame are up! Please go away.

Don R.

As the details about this tragic even unfold we will continue learn more about the motivations of the shooter. But, I think what many people are responding to, in regard to Palin's contribution here, is the trend of unchecked anger, aggression and violence that we've been seeing grow over the past couple of years among her followers. This isn't just an issue of competing ideologies. This is about a leader who is building her power off of the unchecked snowballing of peoples' anger into hostility and irrational vitriol. We've seen it at rallies, campaign stops, town meetings and now this. We are not just talking about people who are upset about the state of affairs in the country. That would be reasonable. But we are talking here about people like Palin and Beck who take no responsibility for the fevered rhetoric which has catalyzed the accelerated transition from anger into hostility and mayhem. Heated discourse is fine. When we start seeing rallies where people are getting their heads stomped on, and brawls erupting, and now this it is time to re-evaluate the costs of one's words.

doubting thomas

Next, Princess Airhead will proclaim that disagreeing with her is "antisemantic."


Well what was everyone thinking? That she'd apologize or show some form of sensitivity? Mark my words, if her and her cadre of like-minded politicos ever run this country, the Jews, Catholics, African descendants, Latinos, Gays, Asians and every other perceived "fringe" group, including "liberals" better run or be very prepared to fight to the death!

Sheila Lechner

It's time for the "spend more time with my family" speech....


"Well what was everyone thinking? That she'd apologize or show some form of sensitivity? Mark my words, if her and her cadre of like-minded politicos ever run this country, the Jews, Catholics, African descendants, Latinos, Gays, Asians and every other perceived "fringe" group, including "liberals" better run or be very prepared to fight to the death!"

How is this comment and several others not only as bad, but far worse, than anything Palin has seen?

The amount of blatant and obvious cynical political posturing and utter hypocrisy that has arose during these past few very sad days just makes this tragedy all the worse.


Such an appearance demonstrates how imbecilic she and her followers are in that she has to make a formal plea to her TPers not to shoot those who disagree with their hair-brained ideas.


Such an appearance by Palin demonstrates how imbecilic she and her TPers are in that she needs to make a plea to them not to shoot those who disagree with their hair-brained ideas.

Mitchell Young

Good for Palin. Like Paul Weller said

Stop apologizing/
for things you've never done

From the Jam's 'the Gift'.


Boy you are all nuts. The left attack her WRONGLY for the Tuscon shootings and she defends herself. Good for her. But you leftwing wack jobs are a disgrace to America. And while evidence has proven the Tucson murderer was not political, you defend the lies. Sorry bunch you are.


Well...if S.P. aims to convince us that political rhetoric has nothing to do with societal violence, how does she explain the rise to power of the Nazi party and the ensuing genocide? I remember my history lessons; studying the texts of speeches, political cartoons and the like that were meant only to incite and inflame. Perhaps she should review her history texts.


Palin has unknowingly resurrected the 'banality of evil' quote and Hannah is saying I told you so. The sad thing is everyone needs to spend some precious time and view a couple of pages on Glen Beck's website on this topic because the comments will convince you this is no joke, we all really do have to spend our time to get rid of her and the pitiful minds that follow because these idiots vote.


Her statement took her from shoo-in as the GOP nominee to a lost cause. Her supporters may agree with the statement, but it corroborates that Ms. Palin is not Presidential. Hasta la vista!


Imagine looking to Palin for leadership in a time of crisis? She is lost to herself, let alone humanity.


It astounds me that someone like Mrs. Palin does not understand how her public commentary, often laden with violent metaphor, contributes to the general acceptance of violence in society and the willingness of a minority to believe violence is an acceptable response to political disagreement.

If someone advocates violence which leads to suicide bombings, there is a general consensus that the advocate is a co-conspirator in the act. As a society we are now calling such actions terrorism.

The rhetoric used by Mrs. Palin and others has been widely recognized for months as having the potential to lead to violent acts. "Don't retreat, reload," the use of gunsights, "bullseye" and the rest certainty doesn't equate in any way to actually pulling the trigger, but believing it has no effect on others is at best naive.

Mitchell Young

"The rhetoric used by Mrs. Palin and others has been widely recognized for months as having the potential to lead to violent acts."

By whom, Michael. And perhaps you might try to come up with one bit, just a shred, of evidence that Palin, Brewer, Angle, or any other of the Left's hate figures had any influence on Loughner. Surely if he was Palin's 'Facebook Friend' we'd no it by now. Instead we have evidence he was a registered independent, apolitical, psychotic, and a heavy drug user who had a grudge against Giffords since 2007.

As to Geri, I think you'd better go back and study your books. Watch 'the Eternal Jew' and then try to compare that to a throw away line 'lock and load' or some abstract symbols on a map. Then study contemporary history and note that even during the laid back mid seventies ustable folks tried to kill president Ford, and that military metaphors have been used in political campaigns forever. (Try, for example, searching the internet for 'Democrats target ' X)

Ed Brazas

However,Kieth Olberman,Michael Moore,Bill Maher,and N.P.R. are totally blameless.


Palin may not be directly responsible for the Tucson shooter's act, but she shares in moral responsibility for her inflammatory rhetoric.

She's nothing more than Alaska trailer trash & the sooner people see her for the not very well educated bimbo she is, the better we all are. We'll be laughing at her for her gross insensitivity.


For Mitchell Young, from one who knows Paul Weller very well, the title of the song you quote describes more about what Palin is developing in our nation through her "leadership."


This could be looked at as a domestic terrorist attack.
So going by the Frank Lutz school of word power and using that word repeatedly and the repub trend of repeating a lie over and over till it sticks we should all begin using the name Tea Terrorist over and over and over.


John Lennon once wrote a song with the lyrics, "Christ, you know it ain't easy. You know how hard it can be. The way things are going, they're gonna crucify me." I am a Christian but I was not offended. Palin was making the point that accusing her of being, in any way, responsible for the actions of this nut is just as outrageous as accusing Jews of slaughtering Christian children in some sort of wierd sacrifice. On this she is absolutely correct. I suspect if any of us were falsely accused of being responsible for such a reprehensible act, we might respond with language and imagery just as strong.Gary

Mitchell Young

Per 'Nina'

"She's nothing more than Alaska trailer trash & the sooner people see her for the not very well educated bimbo she is, the better we all are. We'll be laughing at her for her gross insensitivity."

Nothing 'inflammatory' there.


Forget about Palin and her attempts to deflect any responsibility for her prior inflammatory statements. Today should be about grieving over the loss of life and the loss of personal safety. Politics has become so polarized, that we should all fear what is yet to come. Unless we, as Americans, change the tone of our political debate and denounce violence as a means to making a point, this nation is doom to fail as a whole.

This nation was born out of a desire to not be dominated by those that wanted to force their beliefs on everyone. One that was designed to force people to adhere to a single belief regardless of how an individual feelt or might believed. To flee oppression for those that wanted to live their lives without being persecuted for having their own thoughts and beliefs on how life should be.

Can we move forward and remember how this Nation was created? What has happened to the freedom to disagree and where compromise is considered good for everyone without the threat of violence? I fear that this country has come too far in that embracing those that expound violence over those that wish for peaceful discord has become the norm. I fear it too late for this nation to get back to the time where we can debate peacefully, yet ardently, for the things that are important to our citizens and our way of life.

What will become of our country? What will become of us as individuals? How do we stop the nonsense that seems to pervade our everyday life - that which detracts us from facing what is important in life instead of what we wish to impose on others regardless of individual rights and preference? What has happened to compassion? What has happened to tolerance? It no longer exists here in our once great country.

Jennifer Lynn Weston

Palin is in no position to complain- her critics have just torn a page out of her own notebook.

LV Harrison

She's much scarier than I thought she was. The lights are off, and no one is home. Someone please explain to the rest of the world - the other 6 billion of us - why anything this inappropriate woman says matters? God help America.

Susan Ford

I watched Sarah Palin's video in its entirety & I was moved to tears by her heartfelt words.

I find the left wing commentary to be politically motivated & defamatory to SP. There determination to quote SP's remarks "out of context" is grossly insensitive. Using this tragedy to drag SP's good name into the mud is inexcusable. Could these left wingers sink any lower? Let's leave political slandering out of this & just pray for the victims & their families.

As for Sheriff Dupnik of Pima, Arizona his remarks were so inappropriate. This Sheriff has succeeded in turning a horrific murder scene into a media circus. This is so beyond the pale. I hope that when his position comes up for re-election that the voters of Arizona will vote him out of office. This Sheriff needs sacking.

As for the left wingers who jumped onto the band wagon to spew their vitriol will everyone please join me in condemning their appalling, tasteless rhetorical drivel. Thank you.


The angst is so tiring. If you're offended by Palin's little video, I'm sorry, but I think you're just looking to be offended. There's really no "there" there.


Palin has proven herself to be a mean-spirited ideological hack whose marginally knowledgeable about anything other than revenge and hunting. She blew an opportunity to hush the loud buzz over that stupid map, which had already begun quieting down, and stay above the fray. Instead, this total dimwit steps right into it and adds even more. She would make a more horrible present than she did Governor. She doesn't speak for or to the vast majority of Americans, she's onesided and divisive. The more she talks, the more it's apparent that she's good for nothing more than a hack on Fox Noise; appealing to the same jealous, racist, grumpy crowd that always tunes in. I wish she would go back to her igloo and stay there!


rent to own homes in Florida

I am seriously going to start using all of that! Thank you so much, I am not even kidding! There is nothing that I hate more than coming up with content all the time to barely keep our real estate blog up. It's just so time consuming - so thanks again!


The woman is stupid, except for a certain kind of self-serving deviousness (much like the last Republican we had in the White House.) From her repeated parroting of "Maverick" during the last campaign to her copying the use of a term that she doesn't understand in her latest speech; she seems incapable of independent thought. I also can't believe anyone would believe her representative's explanation that the cross-hairs on the map are "surveyors' marks." How gullible are her followers?

I can only hope that the evidence of Sarah Palin's poor judgement prior to this event and in her reaction to it will keep her out of the White House, and, hopefully, any political office.


Why do people listen to this idiot? It's time for Mama Bear to go back to her cave and stay there.


Once again, Palin proves she does NOT have the gravitas to be president. Hang it up sister.


I find it amazing that some people would want to own the historical definition of "Blood Libel" when people have been using "blood libel" to describe other recent events. Palin was correct in the usage of the words. You guys are only interested in scoring political points and it would not work. Tell me, were they using "English" during those times when Jews were accused of all sorts of crimes? This attempt at restricting the English language is despicable.


For it to be libel of any kind, it would have to be false.

Sarah Palin's critics claim she said: "Don't retreat. RELOAD!"

Is that false?

Sarah Palin's critics claim she put up a map with bull's-eyes on Representative Gifford's district.

Is that false?

Sarah Palin's critics claim she contributed to the incendiary, threatening rhetoric coming from the right-wing. By any measure, that is beyond dispute.

Sarah Palin and her defenders claim that such incendiary, threatening rhetoric is incapable of inciting anyone's actions.

We have laws against inciting violence. Why should Sarah Palin be exempt?


Quote"Sarah Palin and her defenders claim that such incendiary, threatening rhetoric is incapable of inciting anyone's actions."

FALSE. Where's the evidence? It doesn't exist.


It's amazing to still see people who I'm sure consider themselves intelligent to continue to assert that Palin somehow contributed to an environment that contributed to this massacre. Those people are obviously beyond help. They have no ability for logical reasoning. What I'm sure frustrates Palin is that the supposed "intelligentsia" of the left: Krugman, Matthews, MSNBC et al are making the same baseless accusations that some of the more functionally illiterate people on these pages are making. With no facts, evidence, knowledge or even an awareness of the name of the gunman people were already blaming her. For what? For a political ad? Fine, lets take them all down then. No more advertising. For speeches? Great, no more speeches. All these troglodytes are doing is reacting to what they are force fed by their masters on MSNBC, Daily Kos, whatever. It's sad to see the basic human capacity for cognitive reasoning even on the most basic level basically escapes so many. So how would you react if you were accused of complicity to mass murder based on nothing more than the fact that the person hurling the charge doesn't like your politics? They are the ones who need to take a look at themselves, not Palin.

Rose Anderson

What is most telling about Ms. Palin's remarks is that it shows that she does not think before she speaks, a quality I do NOT want in a leader -- in fact it shows that she is not a leader at all. She may not have written those words herself, but she certainly she should have looked at them before she spoke them. It is so irresponsible and shows a lack of sensitivity and knowledge -- do we want such a person negotiating with our enemies and allies who can't anticipate and understand what her words mean? I surely don't!

ken boswell

Agreed: Using something that looks like crosshairs to show that something is being targeted is a bad idea politically; however, the attempt to connect this with the recent shooting is an equally bad idea, and only confirms my skepticisms about the objectivity of the media.


Ms. Palin has moronic attributes that only seem to increase as time goes by...I wish the R leaders would politely send her away, so that we might be spared her stupid comments!


Palin's constant talk about lock and load and her cross hair map was a direct cause for the murders in Tucson ....This domestic terrorist should keep her stupid mouth shut. Most of the time she does not even know what the she is talking about...Anyone that thinks she should be President are just as stupid as this fool.


WOW! Some speech! To bad she did not write it....She is too stupid !! Her hands are not big enough to hold such a speech. This screw-ball could have been the direct cause for the murders in Tucson, yet some Palin lovers say she had nothing to do with it. How in the hell do they know this?? I hope this jerk moves to Iran where she belongs.......

Mitchell Young

It is true that the historical use of 'blood libel' had to do with the accusation that Jews killed Chistian children and used their blood in Matzot. However, the term has come to be used to describe other false accusations. Supporters of Israel frequently use it when they feel that country is being accused falsely of something involving killing or death of non-Jews. And the meaning has grown even wider still, for example, here is a title of an anti-feminist tract that has nothing to do with Israel

The Feminist Blood-Libel against Men

And here is the title of an essay criticizing Karl Rove for his saying that critics of the PATRIOT act are leaving the US open to terrorism.

White House Blood Libel

Palin used to the term to point out that she and the Tea Party et al. were being libeled as being involved or somehow instigating the Tuscon massacre, long after evidence was piling up that there simply was no connection between the perp and 'right wing' politics. 'Blood' is appropriate because she was, in effect, being accused of instigating or promoting murder.

Mitchell Young

"ad greatly contributed to the murderous action by a deranged person. Image if someone would post in the Internet the crosshairs symbol ovelayed with Palin's picture? "

No, it didn't. No evidence that Loughner was into talk radio, in fact a lot of evidence, including interviews of former friends, that say he was apolitical in the sense of partisan or ideological politics. And Giffords was never portrayed in crosshairs. There was a crosshair type symbol marked on a map roughly where her district was.


Hitler's propaganda minister, Goebbels, said, "If you repeat a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it."

"Don't retreat, - reload", "gunsights", "he hates White people", etc.

"If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is a duck" - end of story.


Boy, oh, boy! A fireplace chat with Old Glory behind her. She's getting ahead of herself, isn't she? Must have some out-of-power ex-White House staffer on her payroll, doling out 'presidential-looking' advice. Heh! heh!

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