Thursday, January 13, 2011
A Message from President Sarah Palin
I haven't posted in the past few days like I wanted because I have been kind of "obsessed" reading about the tragic events in Tucson this past Saturday. There are probably several posts that I want to write about the topic, and we'll see if I get them all written.
One of my thoughts of the past few days is that I think Sarah Palin's presidential prospects is finally over. Call it a loss of credibility, or evidence of her tone-deafness to the undercurrents. America needs a politician to challenge us to strive to be our best selves, and we have that in our President, who has given one of the best speeches of his life (among them, his 2004 DNC keynote address, his 2008 speech in Philadelphia about race, and his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize speech). His inauguration speech was disappointing, because it lacked a memorable tagline (as FDR, JFK, and even Clinton managed to do). However, one of the jobs of the president is to be the consoler-in-chief to a grieving nation. Obama never forgets that he is still the president of EVERY American, even the ones who keep questioning the legitimacy of his Hawaiian birth certificate.
By contrast, Sarah Palin did herself no favours by releasing the above video on the morning of the Memorial service in Tucson later that evening. She has no idea how badly she hurt herself by offering up a comparison (once again) to anyone paying attention. President Obama's speech was about honouring the victims and paying tribute to the heroes in the tragedy. By his words, he has elevated the 9 year old girl, Christina, who was born on the worst day in American history (in our lifetime, at least): 9/11/2001. It is this young girl, who was elected to represent her student council and was excited to meet her representative in Congress, that we should remember. Our heated election rhetoric spilled over into a real life tragedy and this young girl's life was taken away. A life bookended by tragedy, made worse by the stories about her rare, mature for her age demeanor.
I've read about the shooter and seen a few of his YouTube ramblings, which stunned me by the nonsensical obsession with an idea of language being a new currency and the usual anti-government rants. Yikes, I actually know a guy that sounds like this mentally unbalanced murderer. I'll devote a post to my thoughts on mental illness, since I first became exposed to it with a college roommate and during my internship in D.C.
As for Sarah Palin, when I watched the above video, I thought the setting and her way of speaking was meant to make her look "presidential." It has all the standard propaganda of a presidential campaign being prepped. While her speech is disciplined (little trace of her screechy / shrill folksiness) and she's telegenic, her message was disappointing. She took no responsibility nor offered any apology for her inflammatory language (after all, she has advised Dr. Laura: "Don't retreat...reload!" and isn't afraid to show her love of guns in photos and on her just ending reality series). She could have used this opportunity to rise to the better angel of her nature, but at this point, I guess its safe to say that she has none. She's every bit as petty and vindictive as her enemies think of her. She made out the controversies and debate about "whose responsible?" in the aftermath of this tragedy to be all about herself. By doing this, she put her foot into her mouth once again, by using the term "blood libel" which has a chilling effect in the mind of anyone who is Jewish. Much of the anti-semitism over the centuries was instigated by Christians claiming that Jews used the blood of babies for their Passover rites. Now, Palin is claiming that the media is doing a blood libel on her. I guess its safe to say that she lost the Jewish vote!
See what I mean about inflammatory rhetoric? Palin doesn't know when to quit. In trying to defend herself of the criticisms she received in the past few days, she offended yet another group of people by evoking the painful legacy of anti-semitism committed by Christians like her for centuries.
An interesting point she made in her "address" is that groups should not be held responsible for the actions of one crazy madman on a shooting rampage. Yet, it was her who came out against the Ground Zero Islamic Cultural Center, partly out of fear that the mullahs would be recruiting young men and filling them with hateful rhetoric and ideas to go out and commit acts of terrorism. Also, the claim that the Islamic Cultural Center was somehow a "Victory Mosque" for 9/11 is blaming the entirety of Islam (a religion just as segmented as Christianity, with over a billion followers) on the actions of a few terrorists who happen to be Muslim. Palin wants it both ways. A lone gunman with anti-government viewpoints was not affected by the hateful rhetoric from rightwing radio personalities, but a Muslim terrorist is shaped by anti-American mullahs.
I read a comment on some online news site where a person mentioned that conservatives are okay with anti-government people, so long as you are not anti-American. Since they view themselves as pro-American, they view terrorists and liberals as "anti-American" and that is not okay. Liberals generally are pro-government, while our criticisms of American policy is seen by conservatives as being anti-American. Whatever.
Personally, I don't see how the media can continue to promote Palin as a credible, plausible presidential candidate anymore. The fact that she had a map of the USA with the crosshairs of a gun trained on 20 Democratic members of Congress and one of them happened to get shot last Saturday is stunning. One would hope that she has a religious experience out of this. A eureka experience. The road to Damascus conversion. This is her chance to change her tone and stop her constant harping on every little thing. Will she do it? Do Republicans love Obama?
At any rate, there is nothing statesmanlike about Palin. Serendipity offered Americans a look at two possibilities in 2012 last night. Do we want to keep our eloquent president, who is trying to return America to the era of civility that President George Herbert Walker Bush enjoyed, or do we want the most divisive politician since probably Joseph McCarthy to be our next president? God help us all if America returns to the era of cynicism, deliberate divisiveness, and petty grievances. Obama has his eye on history (which does not view demagogues favourably but also makes heroes of those who are forgiving, conciliatory, and visionary). Palin remains in the world of her own ego. As her 8-minute address shows, its always about her. She's always the victim of a "lamestream media" which in reality has propped her up against her own devastating gaffes. Dan Quayle was unable to survive even ten percent of Palin's gaffes / nonsensical talk.