Following Sarah Palin’s videotaped statement today, let there be no doubt about her total lack of seriousness — a character trait, in fact, that’s utterly dwarfed by her chronic inability to construct prepared, teleprompter-presented remarks without virtually choking on her own tongue.
Sarah Palin could have used her time to be a leader — to take the high road and talk about the heroes and the victims of this terrorist attack. She could have used the time to discuss responsible gun ownership. She could have taken the time to address her people and mitigate the anger and political hatred that’s bubbled up around this tragedy. Instead, she diminished the tragedy by conflating it with the attacks against her and her record of inflammatory statements.
And, along the same line, arguably the biggest gaffe of today’s narcissistic word salad was her use of the phrase “blood libel.” So not only did she opt to whine about her critics on a day when real heroes and real victims will be memorialized, but she also compared the criticism and stress she’s endured throughout the last four days to thousands of years of anti-Semitic religious persecution endured by Jews.
Can you imagine how she’ll react in a crisis should everyone go insane and elevate her to the White House? “Rachel Maddow is committing a holocaust against me. Wah! Feel sorry for me! Oh, and by the way, we’re invading Mexico. God Bless America. And my life is as tragic as a German Jew in 1943, also. Good night!”
The histrionics are staggering, especially for someone who wants to be taken seriously as a potential candidate for national office. Though, in her defense, it’s very likely she didn’t write this speech. So whoever included “blood libel” in the text had to have understood the meaning — even if she didn’t. After all, it’s not a phrase that pops up in normal conversation or within the average political address.
She’s clearly been taking seriously the e-mail Glenn Beck sent to her following the shootings, in which he implied that she’s the victim in all of this, and how she ought to hire his personal security firm, because if she’s ever taken out, it could mean “the end of the republic.”
At no other point in her address were Beck’s phony-baloney, maudlin dramatics more apparent than when she accused the press of inciting violence against her: “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.”
So when a public figure says something incendiary on television, it can trigger violence, and, therefore, public figures should be careful about their language. Let that be a warning, Keith Olbermann. No recommendations for “Second Amendment remedies” to our problems. And chill out, Arianna Huffington, with anything resembling the word “reload.” Sarah Palin said that words can motivate people to commit violence. So cut the crap.
Except she doesn’t believe that. How do we know? She said so in the very same presentation: “Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them.”
That’s a direct contradiction. We can only gather that, in her opinion, words are and are not responsible for inciting violence. Confused? She reminds me of that Tom Hanks Saturday Night Live character from the 80s, Mr. Short Term Memory, who perpetually forgets what he said seconds earlier.
For what it’s worth, I actually agree with the Sarah Palin who said that words aren’t solely responsible for acts of violence. I also agreed with what she said about our history of intense political discourse in America. But when she so often contradicts herself, it’s difficult to tell whether Sarah Palin agrees with Sarah Palin.
And as if her narcissism, contradictions and thoughtless insults weren’t ridiculous enough, especially for a potential chief executive, Palin predictably shoe-horned into her text a variety of phrases assembled with her patriotic American Exceptionalism fridge-magnet words. Fine. We’ve come to expect bumper-sticker platitudes and patriotic claptrap in political addresses. Especially Palin’s speeches.
But when she includes condescending, grade-school-level social studies lessons about the founders and the origins of the nation in her speeches, it’s particularly insulting to our collective intelligence, given her unapologetic, uncorrected propensity for confusing the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution with the Declaration of Independence, while also not knowing the constitutional role of the vice president — the job she famously sought to occupy. If that’s not pathetic enough, she also repeatedly misinterprets the First Amendment (in the same tweet as “reload”) and insists that it protects all speech from everyone, even though this clause of the amendment only protects speech from the government laws abridging speech — it doesn’t protect Dr. Laura from her network, or Palin from her critics. So spare us the shallow history and civics lessons, Sarah. Crack open a book if you want anyone beyond the usual conga line of pharmaceutically-horny baby boomer men to take you seriously.
What can we divine from all of this? One thing is obvious right off the bat. Combined with a staffer’s laughably flimsy “surveyors crosshairs” excuse, her speechwriting staff appears to be almost as incompetent with words as Palin herself, who once famously said the vice president role is “position flexible” and, you know, the “refudiate” thing. All told, a Palin campaign for president would be one long Hee-Haw sketch, with less polish and more laughs. Conservative columnist Peter Wehner wrote recently:
Virtually every time Ms. Palin speaks out, she reinforces some of the worst impressions or deepest concerns many of us have about her. If she were to become the voice and representative of the GOP and the modern conservatism movement, both would suffer a massive rejection. Sarah Palin will not be elected president; and for her sake, I hope she decides not to run.
My reaction to this prospect is always, of course, “Run, Sarah, run!”
Whenever she parades her white-trashy reality show attitude into public view, it’s an ongoing display of ridiculousness, unrivaled in decades. But today, she veered far from her usual flailing, and jutted her screechy yapper into the wrong news cycle — on a day when she would have been better served by exercising some self control. On a day when the victims of Tucson will be memorialized and the heroes of Tucson will be elevated to historical prominence, it’s no time for a cable TV doof to inject her brand of political masturbation.
Ultimately, her nincompoopery and fumbly ignorance was completely eclipsed today by her reprehensible tastelessness, proved by the ill-considered timing of her video, and, even worse, by her unforgivable lack of deference to the men and women who have more than earned our attention for at least one uninterrupted day. We can only hope the embarrassment she’s enduring as a consequence of today’s gaffe-parade will dissuade her from doing it again.