Palin breaks silence on Tucson
At 6:52 a.m. EST this morning, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin posted a 1,141-word Facebook post with an accompanying eight-minute video responding to the Tucson shootings at length on the same day President Obama is scheduled to travel to Tucson to speak. The response comes as a reply to critics who have said that her political action committee’s map, showing Democratic representatives in GOP-leaning districts who voted for the health care law in gunsights, contributed to a charged climate in American politics before the shooting.
“There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated?” she said.
This statement was Palin’s first response to the tragedy, except for a very short post the day of the shootings and an e-mail exchange with Glenn Beck, of Fox News. Her spokesman preposterously said the gunsights were intended to be “surveyor’s symbols,” in an interview on the Palin-friendly Tammy Bruce Show.
“As I said while campaigning for others last March in Arizona during a very heated primary race, ‘We know violence isn’t the answer.’ When we ‘take up our arms’, we’re talking about our vote,” she said.
As usual, Palin targeted the media in her post. “But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible,” she said, apparently accusing the media of inciting violence following the Tucson shootings.
The phrase “blood libel” has drawn the most controversy so far in the speech, since it refers to the historical anti-Semitic canard that Jews sacrifice Christian children. The phrase was used most recently when Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled, “The Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel.” (It’s very likely that Palin or one of her advisers read this op-ed.)
Another odd phrase was the mention of September 11, 2001. “Recall how the events of 9/11 challenged our values, and we had to fight the tendency to trade our freedoms for perceived security,” she said, without any specifics to what freedoms have been traded.
The speech’s optics were as notable as its content. She spoke with an American flag and fireplace in the background, mimicking a presidential speech. The speech — in contrast to say, her rambling resignation (as governor of Alaska) speech — seemed well-prepared. Also, releasing the speech thirteen hours before the president speaks in Tucson guarantees the two will be compared. The content, however, was not much different from her previous speeches and posts — frequent references to the founding fathers, attacking the media, Reagan quotes and platitudes about the positive aspects of the American system of government.
She closed with a long platitude about what to do next:
“We will come out of this stronger and more united in our desire to peacefully engage in the great debates of our time, to respectfully embrace our differences in a positive manner, and to unite in the knowledge that, though our ideas may be different, we must all strive for a better future for our country.”