Sarah Palin is the gift who keeps on giving. Think about it. Palin holds no public office. Her political experience includes, exclusively, a term as a small-town mayor and an unfinished, albeit scandal-ridden term as governor of America's least populous state. Her educational background includes attendance at six different schools merely to earn a bachelor's degree. Despite having run for vice president -- in what John McCain's top advisers later admitted was a desperation move -- she has never participated in a full-fledged press conference with members of the national media. She communicates almost exclusively via 140-character pronouncements on Twitter, updates on her Facebook page, and brown-nosing interviews with the likes of Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck on Fox, from a studio the network built for her in her home. And yet she is by far the most written about, talked about, and most definitely muttered about woman in America.
Palin received more coverage in 2010 than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi combined, according to the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism. And guess what? She did even better on MSNBC than on Fox, though CNN was close, too. Print, and the networks, followed a similar pattern.
True to form, Palin managed to dominate the news cycle during the past week in an entirely bizarre fashion -- with an accusation made in a video posted on her Facebook page against unnamed detractors of "blood libel" -- one that it is far from clear she even understands. As Marc Tracy noted, the phrase has its origins in the accusation made centuries ago that Jews must murder Christian babies and use their blood to make Passover matzah. (It was the 1475 trial of the Jews of Trent, in which the blood libel--the actual blood libel--was invoked.)
But the phrase has been circulating around right-wing circles for a while, presumably because it sounds vaguely scriptural and associates its accusers with historic victimhood. In this regard, it recalls Clarence Thomas's odd accusation during his 1991 confirmation hearings that by presenting evidence of his inappropriate behavior as head of EEOC and other positions, opponents were participating in the equivalent of a "high-tech lynching." It made no sense whatever, but the violence of the words succeeded in giving his adversaries pause.
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