A House Democratic leader on Wednesday lashed out at Sarah Palin, accusing the former Alaska governor of being intellectually incapable of understanding why she's faced criticism related to the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) said Palin had missed the point by releasing a statement Wednesday morning blasting the media for "blood libel" for looking to assign blame in part to her rhetoric after the attempted assassination of Giffords last weekend.
"You know, Sarah Palin just can't seem to get it, on any front. I think she's an attractive person, she is articulate," Clyburn said on the Bill Press radio show. "But I think intellectually, she seems not to be able to understand what's going on here."
Palin broke her relative silence since the shooting, which some Democrats have attributed to an environment that allowed such an attack on a member of Congress. Democrats have homed in on the map Palin's political action committee had released, depicting targeted lawmakers in the election with crosshairs over their districts.
"Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own," Palin wrote. "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, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election."
Clyburn said that Palin didn't grasp why such rhetoric was so troubling, regardless of the motivations of the alleged shooter. The No. 3 House Democrat referenced the civil rights era and said that some of the shrill rhetoric in modern politics is reminiscent of that time.
"I have some experiences that maybe she does not have," he said. "When I see and hear things today that are reminiscent of that period of time, I am very, very concerned about it, because I know what it led to back then, and I know what it can lead to again."