Sarah Palin Is No Barry Goldwater

Ben Smith writes about Sarah Palin’s possible strategy should she run for president:

The prospect of Sarah Palin running for president is, increasingly, dismissed by a political class that sees her facing weak poll numbers — especially in key early states — and doing nothing to correct them or to build the infrastructure for a run.

But I’m told Palin’s camp is, at least, holding preliminary talks about how a campaign would look if she decides to run. One early decision, a source says: It would be based in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Bristol Palin recently bought a house in nearby Maricopa.

One lesson of Palin’s sometimes-difficult time in the spotlight has been that Alaska is an extremely difficult base for national politics. From a distant political culture to a daunting time difference, Palin hasn’t been terribly well served by the fact that her state is little-known to reporters in the lower 48, and that email inquiries arrive at 3:00 a.m. needing answers by 5:00 a.m.

And Arizona carries its own significance: Basing a campaign there would be a provocative rejection of any lingering political cost from those who connect her harsh rhetoric and Gabrielle Giffords’ shooting — a traditional refusal to retreat. It’s also the core of the politically contested, fast-growing new West.

And it would also hark back, perhaps not to McCain, more a Washington figure than an Arizona one, but to what now stands as the iconic campaign for many base Republican voters: Goldwater ’64.

Sarah Palin basing her campaign based upon Goldwater ’64 is funny on more than one level. First, who other than Sarah Palin would want to build a campaign based upon one which lost in a landslide? Democrats tend to be far less politically savvy than Republicans in many areas, but I have never seen a Democrat suggest running a campaign based upon McGovern ’72.

The implicit view that Sarah Palin is like Barry Goldwater is equally ridiculous. Barry Goldwater opposed the religious right which Palin panders to, and would have been one of the first to stand up to insist that Republicans should have nothing to do with the Tea Party movement. Of course such views from the far right have dominated the GOP for years, well before the Tea Party movement name existed. This is why Goldwater considered himself a liberal in his later years when he saw signs as to which direction the party was going.

Among his many views which differ considerably from those of Sarah Palin and the current right wing, Goldwater supported a woman’s right to an abortion. He supported gay rights, including the right of gays to openly serve in the military. I bet he even understood the First Amendment and wouldn’t go along with Sarah Palin’s frequently repeated belief that the First Amendment was written to protect politicians such as Palin from scrutiny by the press. I also doubt Goldwater would have gone along with Sarah Palin in her attempts to practice censorship in Wasilla (here and here).

Sarah Palin’s Hypocrisy On Violence

Sarah Palin whined about being criticized for her hate speech, her use of crosshairs over Gabrielle Giffords, and her link to the controversial graphic with calls for supporters to “reload. Palin and the right wing Palin-apologists have repeatedly denied any relationship between Palin’s rhetoric and right wing violence.

Palin’s view has suddenly changed as she canceled plans to speak in Colorado on May 2:

Former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was scheduled to speak at an event for a Colorado nonprofit group May 2, but the event was canceled the day after it was announced due to “an onslaught of personal attacks” against Palin.

Palin was to speak at the Patriots & Warriors Gala at the Infinity Park Event Center in Glendale, Colo., which was billed as an awards banquet and fundraiser for military families in need and for a grief camp for children who had lost loved ones in combat.

But the event, sponsored by the Sharon K. Pacheco Foundation, was canceled Saturday, a day after it had been announced to the media. A press release posted on the sponsoring organization’s Facebook page reads, “Due to an onslaught of personal attacks against Gov. Palin and others associated with her appearance, it is with deep sadness and disappointment that, in the best interest of all, we cancel the event for safety concerns.”

The press release goes on to say that no direct threats were made against Palin, nor were any made against members of the organization’s staff, but in light of the shooting rampage in Arizona last month, the negative rhetoric “raises concern for her safety and the safety of others despite the call for civility in America.”

The saddest thing is that Palin very well might be too ignorant to even see the contradiction here.

Palin’s Approval At New Low Following Giffords Shooting

“Bad news for Palin: for the first time, her approval rating has fallen to a number that she can count to.” –Andy Borowitz

The recent controversy over violent rhetoric from the right led to many bizarre arguments from the right as they tried to deny that there is a problem. I received many near incoherent arguments from conservatives based upon an erroneous belief that the polls showed Americans supported them in their bizarre defense of violent right wing rhetoric. This was fallacious both as poll results do not prove whether an argument is correct–a majority could be wrong. More importantly, the poll they cited was quite different from the actual issues being argued.

As far as I know there were no polls over some of the key questions: Was Sarah Palin wrong to keep up the graphic of Gabrille Giffords in crosshairs after Giffords expressed fears about the consequences of this? Was Sarah Palin wrong to link to this graphic with calls to reload? Does violent rhetoric from the right pose a danger? These are the issues which led to criticism of Palin and others on the right, not whether Palin is to blame for any individual act of violence.

The closest we now have to polling results regarding this issue are those which show that Palin’s unfavorability ratings have risen to new highs. Gallup found that 38 percent have a favorable view of Palin compared to 53 percent who see her unfavorably. Most likely this is not only a consequence of more people considering the consequences of her violent and hate-filled rhetoric, but also her poor response. Responding by making it appear that the entire story was about her, as well as including an anti-Semitic slur, certainly did not help Sarah (Reload) Palin.

Quote of the Day

Ms. Palin released a long video statement in which she referred to the quote “blood libel” against her. Now, she may not have known this, to be fair, but this is a loaded phrase, blood libel. It refers to, among other things, the idea that the Jews murdered Jesus. Of course, the Jews did not murder Jesus, but they did put up a map of Judea on the internet with the crosshairs over Bethlehem. –Peter Sagal

Bonus Quote:

“In her video posted on her Facebook page, Sarah Palin condemned the media’s coverage of the Arizona shootings by using the phrase ‘blood libel,’ which refers to a harsh anti-Semitic slur. And I would be super-offended if I thought she knew that.” –Seth Meyers

Quote of the Day

‎”Many are asking if our political discourse has gotten too heated. And those people should go to hell!” –Stephen Colbert

Shorter Sarah Palin on Hannity And A Rational Conservative Response

Sarah (Reload) Palin’s appearance on Sean Hannity did nothing to satisfy those of us who remained shocked by the recent shootings in Tucson, along with many other acts of politically-motivated violence. Here’s Shorter Palin on Hannity:

“I will continue to speak out to promote hatred and division. I stand by my anti-Semitic slur. I was the real victim. My words never cause harm; words critical of me do.”

That, of course, was not Palin’s actual words, but is the message she conveyed to those beyond the fringe element who supports her. Most conservatives are unable or unwilling to understand what liberals have been saying in the aftermath of the shootings. Rather than responding to what we are saying, they falsely claim that liberals are placing the blame for the shooting on Palin and then respond to this instead of what is actually being said.

One exception is Joe Scarborough who has this message for conservatives:

We get it, Sarah Palin. You’re not morally culpable for the tragic shooting in Tucson, Ariz. All of us around the “Morning Joe” table agree, even if we were stunned that you would whine about yourself on Facebook as a shattered family prepared to bury their 9-year-old girl.

The same goes for you, Glenn Beck. You’ve attacked your political opponents with words designed to inspire hatred and mind-bending conspiracy theories from fans. Calling the president a racist, Marxist and fascist may be reprehensible, but it did not lead a mentally disturbed man to take a Glock to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s “Congress on Your Corner” event.

Good on ya, buddy. You weren’t personally responsible for the slaughter at the Safeway. Maybe you can put it on a poster at the next “Talkers” convention.

But before you and the pack of right-wing polemicists who make big bucks spewing rage on a daily basis congratulate yourselves for not being responsible for Jared Lee Loughner’s rampage, I recommend taking a deep breath. Just because the dots between violent rhetoric and violent actions don’t connect in this case doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore the possibility — or, as many fear, the inevitability — that someone else will soon draw the line between them.

Actually, someone already has. When you get a minute, Google “Byron Williams” and “Tides Foundation” to see just how thin a layer of ice Beck skates on every day…

Who, other than Palin’s most strident supporters, was not troubled by the bull’s-eye target over Giffords’s district? Or the political advertisement promoting the removal of Giffords from office with the firing of a “fully automatic M16” with her opponent? Or the gunned-down congresswoman’s own warning to NBC’s Chuck Todd that violent words have consequences?

And who on the right is really stupid enough to not understand that the political movement that has a near monopoly on gun imagery may be the first focus of an act associated with gun violence? As a conservative who had a 100 percent rating with the National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners of America over my four terms in Congress, I wonder why some on the right can’t defend the Second Amendment without acting like jackasses. While these types regularly attack my calls for civility, it is their reckless rhetoric that does the most to hurt the cause.

Which brings us back to Palin and the GOP’s field of 2012 candidates.

In Palin’s Facebook manifesto last Wednesday, she didn’t condemn extreme speech and its potential for violence. Instead, she seemed to say, “Deal with it.” Then she proved it, ineptly and offensively naming herself the victim of a “blood libel,” which generations of persecuted Jews know carries connotations much more serious than a drop in the polls.

We know Palin won’t call out irresponsible language or lead the discussion back to civility, but who will?

Where was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who covets the moral authority to lead his party in 2012? Is there anything — anything at all — a member of his own party can say that offends this man?

Or former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who refused to call out his state’s best-known congresswoman, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, for saying that the best way to oppose energy legislation is to be “armed and dangerous.”

Or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich? Oh, wait. Never mind.

From their defensive crouch, these candidates are clearly scared to do the right thing by calling out reckless rhetoric.

Quote of the Day

“The President of the United States and Sarah Palin both made speeches on the same day. Obama came out against lunatics with guns. She gave the rebuttal.” –Bill Maher

More on Violence And Right Wing Rhetoric

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, conservatives who fail to understand the arguments from liberals about right wing hate speech act as if Jared Loughner lived in a vacuum and acted with absolutely no external influences. This is despite multiple reports indicating Loughner’s interest in fringe politics. NewsOne reports on yet another connection, alleging that Loughner is a fan of right winger Alex Jones.

I find it curious that conservatives have been attacking liberals this week who have expressed concern about speech and internet postings which could inspire violence. They apparently see nothing wrong with this, but many of the same conservatives went ballistic over a joke  by David Letterman a couple of years ago (which they proceeded to distort in their attacks on Letterman). Certainly calling on supporters to “reload” while linking to a picture of members of Congress in crosshairs is of greater concern than a late night comic’s joke, even if the claims conservatives made about it had been true.

Of course this problem is not limited to Sarah (Reload) Palin. There’s Sharon Angle and her calls for “Second Amendment” remedies, Glenn Beck who holds a gun in one picture while opposing violence on an adjacent portion of his web site, and many other conservatives. Andrew Sullivan points out this billboard advertising Rush Limbaugh’s show right in Tuscon:

Liberals are not saying that Palin, Angle, Beck, or Limbaugh is directly responsible for the recent shootings, regardless of how often conservatives make this claim. We are saying that their conduct is, at very least, far worse than jokes from David Letterman, comments from the Dixie Chicks, and many other items which the right wing regularly goes berserk about–and actually does contribute to acts of violence. We have yet another example today of right wing violence with an arrest for threatening a member of Congress.

Other than distorting the argument to falsely claim that liberals are directly blaming Palin for the shooting, the other common bogus argument from the right is to claim that the poisonous atmosphere is not being created by conservatives. They claim that liberals do the same. I already responded to this claim in this post, but their is another quote from George Packer which deserves to be added to those in the previous post:

But it won’t do to dig up stray comments by Obama, Allen Grayson, or any other Democrat who used metaphors of combat over the past few years, and then try to claim some balance of responsibility in the implied violence of current American politics. (Most of the Obama quotes that appear in the comments were lame attempts to reassure his base that he can get mad and fight back, i.e., signs that he’s practically incapable of personal aggression in politics.) In fact, there is no balance—none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side’s activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can’t stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.

Sarah Palin, incidentally, who regularly dodges the media due to an inability to answer questions, has agreed to a television interview. It is to be conducted by Sean Hannity–hardly a challenge for Palin.

Palin, Like Most Conservatives, Fails To Understand The Controversy

Sarah (Reload) Palin has finally responded to the criticism of her use of crosshairs in an ad featuring Gabrielle Giffords but, like other conservatives weighing in, shows she totally fails to understand what the controversy is about. This is not about whether this particular graphic precipitated the crime or whether Sarah Palin is personally responsible. This is not the criticism being made, and not what the liberal blogs have been talking about.

The concern on the left goes far beyond the crosshairs. It includes Palin’s link to the controversial graphic with calls for supporters to “reload,” and for the general atmosphere of hatred seen in her public appearances.  Conservatives are taking a very simplistic approach to this entire matter.  Their argument seems to be that if the crosshairs did not precipitate this particular shooting then  conservatives deserve no criticism for the hateful tone and violent allusions in their speech.

Liberals have a view which seems to be far too complicated for the simplistic reptilian minds of  these conservatives: The hate speech is wrong, regardless of whether it influenced this particular shooter. Right wing inspired violence extends beyond this particular episode. The atmosphere is still poisonous. It is also simplistic to act as if it is all or nothing as to whether current right wing hate speech had an influence in this case. The murderer did not live in a vacuum. There were probably many influences on him, and it is naive it say that recent trend of conservative hate speech going mainstream didn’t have an influence.

Palin had an opportunity to speak to those beyond her extremist supporters but failed to do so. She would have been much smarter to admit the crosshairs went to far, and that she should have taken this down when Giffords had first complained. She would have minimized the damage to admit she was wrong and had learned from this episode. Instead Palin denies all responsibility for her actions. In contrast, Keith Olbermann, who has neither the high profile of Palin or allusions to violence in the manner of Palin, has recognized the problem and repudiated “any act or any thing in my past that may have even inadvertently encouraged violence.”

Conservatives identify with their extremes while liberals typically oppose extremes of the far left as much as the far right. Conservatives see criticism of speech promoting hatred as an attack purely on them. To me it doesn’t matter whether Jared Loughner expressed views of the far right or left. Deranged individuals such as Loughner commonly express views from both extremes, although conservatives have been quick to deny the degree to which Loughner echos many ideas of the far right. The problem is the manner in which the far right both identifies government as the enemy and makes violence s0und acceptable with their inappropriate display of guns along with calls for revolution and “Second Amendment remedies.”  This is wrong even if it had zero influence upon Loughner (which is unlikely).

Palin further showed her inability to be presidential by releasing her response on Facebook as she continues to be afraid to respond to questions from the news media or speak to those beyond her extremist supporters. She has created further controversy by the inappropriate claim of “blood libel,” including condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League. Issuing a statement seen as anti-Semitic is hardly a pathway for Palin to use this tragedy to move from the fringes to someone who could ever be seen as acceptable by the mainstream.

The Blurred Line Between Mainstream Conservatism and Far Right Wing Extremism

Some in the media are trying to minimize the significance of right wing hate speech, either by denying its significance or claiming both sides do it.  Andrew Sullivan has pointed out the key difference between left and right:

The right and the left both have intemperate voices. But here’s the key: only the conservative movement counts the most vile blowhards as leading lights, embraced by the leadership. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Sarah Palin: these are among the most popular conservatives in America. Who are the folks on the left with equivalent popularity and influence?

Steven Benen had a similar response to the claim that both sides do it:

In Democratic circles, liberal extremists can’t get any establishment attention at all. Members of Congress won’t return their phone calls or even be seen in public with them. On the right, however, there’s practically nothing a right-wing extremist can say or do to be exiled from polite company.

There’s a clear and impermeable line between the progressive mainstream and the left fringe. The line between the Republican Party/conservative movement and the far-right fringe barely exists. Whereas Dems kept the fringe at arm’s length, Republicans embrace the fringe with both arms.

Both sides have nutjobs; only one side thinks their nutjobs are sane.

Conservatives try to equate old graphics with targets to Sarah Palin’s graphic of crosshairs but there is a huge difference here. Targets do not suggest the shooting of an individual they way that crosshairs do. Palin’s crosshairs were made even worse when accompanied by her calls to “reload” and her constant hate speech. The significance of Palin’s crosshairs were demonstrated when Giffords herself expressed fear of the consequences of Palin’s actions:

I mean, this is a situation where — I mean, people don’t — they really need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up and, you know, even things, for example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list. But the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district.

When people do that, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.

Conservatives have even tried to draw false equivalencies between the statements from Republican leaders such as Palin and Beck and mere blog comments made by liberals. They have been making a big fuss about a diary at Daily Kos in which an individual stated that Giffords was dead to him in expressing disapproval over a vote she made. These are hardly equivalent. Nor is it equivalent to quote Barack Obama for saying, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” especially when Obama’s career has generally been based upon attempts at reconciliation with his political opponents as compared to conservatives who thrive on creating hatred.

As Steve pointed out, if someone on the left were to engage in the type of hate speech common on the right it is likely they would be repudiated by most of the left. When possible connections were drawn between right wing hate speech and the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, conservatives had two possible strategies to dissociate themselves. They could have done what liberals would have done and condemned the hate speech. Most have chosen a different path and put themselves in a position of defending the hate speech. It is so bad that when one Republican, Tim Pawlenty, stated he would not have used Sarah (Reload) Palin’s graphic of politicians in the crosshairs of a rifle, a prominent conservative blogger responded by arguing  he’s not man enough to be president.

Related Posts:

Right Wingers Defend Hate Speech While Tea Party Takes Advantage of Arizona Shooting To Raise Money

Sarah (Reload) Palin and Rush Limbaugh Condemned For Their Hate Speech; Beck Takes Stand Against Violence By Holding Gun

John Kerry on Civility

Palin, Like Most Conservatives, Fails To Understand The Controversy