I think this week may well have marked the moment that Sarah Palin finally jumped the shark.
To say I was shocked or surprised by her smarmy, self-serving video responding to the tragic events in Tucson last weekend would be to imply that the former governor is still capable of doing anything that can shock or surprise me. While it may indeed be a stretch to say that her PAC's website, with its stark image of crosshairs emblazoned over Gabrielle Giffords' congressional district, led directly to the shooting incident that left Giffords in critical condition, there's certainly an argument to be made that our increasingly vociferous partisan rhetoric could stand a cooling-off period. So, let me amend my earlier statement to say that if Palin herself had admitted this and taken the moral high ground, that would have surprised me.
Instead, true to form, she chose to wrest the mantle of victimhood away from the actual victims of the Tucscon tragedy and claimed it for herself. Why? Because she felt that, by questioning her overheated bloviating, the folks in the media ("lamestream," natch) were being big meanie stupidheads. The central thesis of her video screed, that we shouldn't exercise collective guilt when attempting to divine the shooter's intent, not only neatly sidesteps the notion that yes, actions do have consequences, but also -- more importantly -- flies in the face of her own past statements vis-a-vis the Park51 community center in New York (remember?). To this end, Dean Obeidallah asks a very pointed question in his terrific Huffington Post piece from Wednesday that I have no doubt Palin will rush to refudiate posthaste:
Sarah -- you and your friends on the right can't have it both ways. It's either "individual responsibility" meaning that we only punish those who commit the crimes or collective guilt so you can punish Americans for the wrongs to which they have no connection. Which is it going to be? Or is there an exception to your views based on the race or religion of the American?
When seeking an answer to that rhetorical, one need only look to Palin's comments on President Obama ("pals around with terrorists"), healthcare reform ("death panels!"), and so, so many others -- illogical strawmen all, engineered like fine Swiss clocks to gin up the most vehement segments of her most vehement base. Indeed, her history of such statements provides us with more than enough evidence of her sliding scale of "do as I say, not as I do" morality to glean all the answers we'd ever want without her needing to utter so much as a syllable more. In fact, given the current sorry state of our political discourse -- much of it flowing directly from her entrée onto the national stage -- I think she's said more than enough already.
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