THE BLOG
08/03/2010 05:51 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Don't Blame Palin, Blame Stalin

For too many years in too many quarters, the name of the game has been blame. It seems that more and more people refuse to accept the responsibility for and the consequences of their actions. It's nothing new for politicians as witnessed by Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel, who among other questionable actions, neglected to report assets and income on time. He both blamed his former chief of staff for many of the errors and then defended his actions saying that he may have done it, and even if he did it, he didn't mean to, and besides, his colleagues are also doing it. Naturally, Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner immediately blamed Nancy Pelosi calling it "a sad reminder of Speaker Pelosi's promise to 'drain the swamp' in Washington." In this case, Boehner is perpetuating the great American judicial tradition that you are guilty until proven innocent.

Everyone is emphatic about their innocence from the professional athlete playing basketball, hockey, football and soccer who refuses to admit that he has ever fouled an opponent, to the former superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery where there was a huge grave mix up. He blamed his staff and a lack of resources for the scandal that forced his ouster.

As far as spills and leaks, in May when executives from BP, Transocean, and Halliburton testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee regarding the oil spill that was contaminating the Gulf of Mexico, each party assumed fool responsibility by blaming the other for the disaster. When Wikileaks presented its 2010 version of the 1971 Pentagon Papers, the White House and the Pentagon hurriedly scrambled about seeking to find the guilty party in an attempt to foist the blame on somebody else.

The same kind of "I'm not to blame" juggling act began after a self-serving right-wing blogger sent out an edited video version of a long ago speech by Shirley Sherrod, a black employee of the Agriculture Department in which she appeared to be denying help to white farmers. Without checking the facts, the gullible mainstream media accepted the video as factual and she was condemned as a racist by irresponsible "professionals," especially by Fox News Channel and hosts Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. She was also chastised by the head of the NAACP and then by the administration. When some of the parties realized that they had been duped and knew that they deserved to be blamed for their inappropriate and offensive handling of the situation, only then did Ms.Sherrod receive belated and reluctant apologies.

Some Arizonans blame immigrants for an increase in crime and a misuse and depletion of public services meant for American citizens. Immigration rights supporters blame election-year politics in Arizona for the heinous immigration law. At the same time, both sides blame the federal government for sitting on the sidelines afraid to upset anyone, and by doing nothing they have upset everyone.

Except for some true-blood Tea Party candidates, many GOP office seekers do not want Sarah Palin to campaign for them. They have a queasy feeling that she may do more damage than good and should they lose an election, the blame will be hers. Democrats running for office also have a mixed feeling about Obama campaigning for them, especially if the economy flounders any further and his ratings plummet. If they then lose, the blame goes to Obama. Most Democrats still don't mind if Obama comes to their state or district and quietly raises funds at some wealthy donor's gargantuan mansion in a most affluent suburban zip code. Even some mainline Republicans join their Tea Party compatriots to welcome Palin, but only as a fundraiser.

In 1982, I traveled into the Soviet Union as an American journalist and was fiercely interrogated by three Russian officials in my cell-like compartment on a train heading to Leningrad, after they discovered suspicious writings in my journals. Their questions were harsh and their demeanor was cold and foreboding, apropos for the then Cold War time behind the Iron Curtain. If this had occurred today, I could possibly blame it on their anti-American attitude perhaps fomented by the ranting of one of the most visibly outspoken critics of the "commies" -- Sarah Palin. I couldn't have done it back then because Palin was an unknown 18-year-old that had just graduated from High School. Although he died in 1953 at the age of 74, Russia's cruel, dictatorial leader Joseph Stalin had fostered gross mistrust of most everyone; the residue of his reign might have set the mood for my interrogation. Somebody had to be responsible for that train travesty twenty-eight years ago and since I can't blame Palin, I blame Stalin.