In typical fashion Sarah Palin took to her Facebook page today to finally address the Arizona shootings this weekend, to which she has been endlessly linked by various elements of the media and political spectrum.
In equally typical fashion, Palin offered little introspection into her role in the political dialogue of the past year and laid the blame directly at the feet of the media, whom she accused of “blood libel.” A terrible term she apparently is not clear on the meaning of. But more on that in a second.
Two interesting things about the timing and nature of this post. It is clear that Palin spent the last few days testing the waters and leaving the heavy lifting of the defending her to the folks at Fox News, most notably Glenn Beck. Part way through her Facebook post she says “Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle.”
Emphasis mine, because this is a reference to an old DNC map that Roger Ailes said in an interview the other day his team had dug up and which has been appearing on Fox News with great frequency ever since.
Palin may have also taken heart from a CBS poll released yesterday that found 6 out of 10 Americans don’t see a link between political rhetoric and the shootings.
What is also clear from this post is that Palin, assuming she does want to run for President, has no interest in appealing to voters beyond her base. The terrible events of the weekend offered the former Governor a chance to step forward, display some leadership qualities, and speak to the country as a whole about rhetoric, or politics, or her vision, or her idea of America, or whatever. Basically anything she deemed fit to showcase her ability to transcend a national tragedy…an ability the nation generally requires its presidents to possess. Nay, demands.
Instead Palin has retreated, again, behind the safe walls of her Facebook page and only emerged to appeal to the fraction of voters who vehemently agree with her that she is a victim of an overzealous media (which she frequently is, but people running for President hopefully possess the ability to rise above the chatter). Short version: This is not the reaction one hopes for from a presidential candidate.
Back to “blood libel.” Says Palin in her post:
But, 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. That is reprehensible.
Again, emphasis mine. Blood libel is a strong term with historically violent connotations and one wonders if Sarah Palin is familiar with its actual definition and history. From Wikipedia:
Blood libel refers to a false accusation or claimthat religious minorities, almost always Jews, murder children to use their blood in certain aspects of their religious rituals and holidays.Historically, these claims have–alongside those of well poisoning and host desecration–been a major theme in European persecution of Jews.
Ben Smith points out that Glenn Reynolds used the term in a WSJ op-ed earlier this week so presumably she picked it up from there. Nevertheless, one WSJ column does not cancel out centuries of meaning for a term that has terrible, terrible meaning and repercussions — Jews have been persecuted for centuries using this false claim. The especial irony here being that Palin deploys this term while attempting to criticise the media for inciting violence and calling for responsible rhetoric.
And then there is the extra terrible irony that Rep. Giffords is Jewish.
Perhaps we can look forward to a Facebook note and Vimeo video explaining her choice of phrase.