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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Don't Cry For Me, Arizona

I don't have a lot to add to the discussions of yesterday's speech-off between Palin and Obama. Her decision to release that video the morning of the Arizona memorial was a train wreck in slow motion. You knew she was going to do it even before she did, you knew the tone would be all wrong--a preening, whiny, narcissistic mess--and you knew she would probably toss out some ill conceived red meat of victim chic ("blood libel"?!) that would look petty and shrill next to the high-minded mourner-in-chief role that Obama was likely to knock out of the park. Which she did, and he did. Just an extraordinarily moving and cathartic service. But you knew that already.

One interesting thing here, however, was watching the left's scramble toward the high ground, which began really early. Despite Palin's lament about how's she's the real victim of Tuscon, the liberal pundits and sites I read--Kevin Drum, Josh Marshall, Steve Benen, Salon, Jonathan Alter, etc.--were falling over all over themselves to exonerate her long before she spoke out herself. If there was a unified lynch mob on the left, I missed it. The standard line seemed to be that (a) she was obviously not responsible for the psychotic Loughner's actions, but (b) purely independently, it sure would be nice if she took it down a notch.

Really? Isn't this a bit too easy? Given her long history of incendiary rhetoric, Palin's like a raging drunk who emerges from a car crash only to discover that it was the meth head in front of her who started the pile up. So if she didn't cause the wreck, it was by sheer dumb luck. Good for her. Now she wants a good driver award. One of the things not mentioned enough so far is that it's not just the tone of her rhetoric that's the problem. It's the lies. Death panels, socialism, "pallin' around with terrorists," apologizing for America, etc. It's one thing to react with passion to things that actually happened, it's quite another to start burning torches over things that exist only in her fevered imagination. Is blaming her for the spree kill fair? No. But she's not really in a position to demand fairness, is she? Political careers, of much better people, have been torpedoed over much, much less (Muskie and Gore come to mind). And, really, no one should be happier about this than the GOP elders. They knew she'd lose to Obama by 25 points, but they were powerless to stop her. Now they aren't.


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