Sarah Palin tosses gasoline on flames

Whatever else you say about Sarah Palin, she’s got the worst sense of timing in politics today.
Just when the nation is yearning for healing, the same morning members of Congress prepare to gather in prayer, just hours before the president goes to Tucson to deliver a message on the need for us all to pull together — Palin decides to pour more gasoline on the flames of hatred and division she has already ignited.

It would have been so easy, and appropriate, for Palin to say what so many other public figures have said. Something like: In light of Saturday’s tragic shooting, it’s important that we all do a little soul-searching about the political rhetoric. I certainly never meant anybody any harm when I put up that map with “bull’s-eyes” on it (her word), but today, looking back, I realize it was probably inappropriate. And I wouldn’t do it again.

So easy, so appropriate — and words that would have been so welcome. Instead, Palin put out a sickening, self-serving video in which she made no apology whatsoever and painted herself as a victim — while attacking those many voices, starting with the Sheriff of Pima County, who first raised the issue of toxic political rhetoric, of rushing to “manufacture a blood libel.”

As Palin should know, that phrase — “blood libel” — is an especially explosive one and connotes the worst of anti-Semitism: the medieval accusation that Jews kill Christian children in order to use the blood for making matzos for Passover. Her total insensitivity in using that charge is mind-boggling.

As is her attack on “journalists and pundits” who question the poisonous rhetoric we’ve heard from both sides, but especially from the right. When a member of Congress is shot down while meeting constituents, it’s not only acceptable to question whether a Senate candidate calling for “Second Amendment remedies” or a former vice presidential candidate publishing a map with crosshairs helps create a dangerous political climate. It would be irresponsible not to.

Sarah Palin had a chance to rise to the occasion with class, humility and humanity. She failed at all three. With her disgusting “blood libel” attack, Palin not only showed an astounding level of bad taste and bad judgment, she just ended her political career.


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