By Nick Gillespie
Former Alaska Gov. and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has posted the text and video of her statement regarding the Arizona massacre on her Facebook page.
The smears against Palin started almost immediately after news of the shooting spree by Jared Loughner hit the web, with folks such as Markos Moulitsas of The Daily Kos tweeting, "Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin" in a truly objectionable bid to spin a heinous act to the basest of partisan advantages. From there, the commentary went downhill.
It is strange that we need to keep mentioning that there's zero connection between Palin, her infamous "target" map, and the alleged shooter Loughner. Or that even if there were, it makes no sense to posit a causal connection between banal, ubiquitous political metaphors ("targeting" opponents, "killing" legislation, etc.) and the act of a madman. What is it about the U.S. that we constantly invoke the cliche that hard cases make bad law and then sprint to make policy in the wake of sui generis calamities? It's a bad impulse whose results can be experienced every time we board a plane.
Having said all that, if Sarah Palin is interested in becoming president someday, or even returning for a second season of reality TV, her response to patently stupid and offensive accusations hasn't exactly been Churchillian, either. She pulled her target map, had spokespeople say it didn't have targets on it in the first place, and then released a pretty lame audio clip via Glenn Beck's radio show. Her Facebook reply isn't going to win her any friends among the growing ranks of independents, either:
Our exceptional nation, so vibrant with ideas and the passionate exchange and debate of ideas, is a light to the rest of the world. Congresswoman Giffords and her constituents were exercising their right to exchange ideas that day, to celebrate our Republic’s core values and peacefully assemble to petition our government. It’s inexcusable and incomprehensible why a single evil man took the lives of peaceful citizens that day...
There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure....
We will come out of this stronger and more united in our desire to peacefully engage in the great debates of our time, to respectfully embrace our differences in a positive manner, and to unite in the knowledge that, though our ideas may be different, we must all strive for a better future for our country. May God bless America.
Coming days after the event and then shrouded in what literary critic Walter Gibson once identified as the "stuffy," official language of bureaucrats and Fourth of July picnic speakers, it is not only curiously dispassionate but vague and legalistic (filled with barely earned conclusions prefaced with "so," "thus," etc.). It is a tapestry of threadbare cliches ("our Founders' genius," "May God bless America,") in search of a news hook, the type of windy oraration that could be dusted off for any event, from a disaster site to a Kiwanis luncheon. And if the style is what captures the reader's attention, it's because there's no substance on which to feed.
One of the things that excited people about Sarah Palin was her apparent authenticity, her down-to-earthiness, her experience of working, living, dreaming, and achieving far from the conventional centers of power in American society. In a political age characterized by the telegenic intimacy of the 24-hour news channel, Palin seemed perfectly in synch with the sort of unmediated access viewers and voters crave. And only the most insulated chumps in the opinionating business (read: most of them) were put off by her insistence that when she graduated college she got a job, not a passport and a backpack.
But since her bravura entrance onto the national stage, virtually every interaction she has had with her public has been so tightly stage-managed and scripted that her main selling point has been swathed and suffocated in layers and layers of distance from anything approaching a real-time response to the world she lives in. When she resigned her governorship long before her first term was up, she signaled that she wasn't so interested in being an actual legislator. Fair enough, and who can blame her? But she's now getting to the point where she's signaling that she is incapable of giving even her most sympathetic audience what it wants from her. Which means there's one less interesting character on the public stage and her future, even as an entertainer, is dimmer than it once seemed.
Reason.tv on 5 Rules for Coping with Tragedy: