Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Playing the victim

In her Youtube video put out just after the Tucson shootings, Palin said that we cannot blame her toxic political rhetoric. But then she quite foolishly and voluntarily gave us something we can hang our hats on: In a unfortunate use of the words "blood," "pistols" and "shooting" to accent her points and the use of outrageously offensive timing in terms of releasing it on the same day as the memorial, she showed a shocking lack of empathy, sensitivity, and compassion.

Palin denounced the "manufacture of a blood libel," which adds an extra level of vitriol. Not only did it demonstrate a pathological narcissism on her part, but total ignorance that the phrase “blood libel” has a terrible history. Copy-cat Palin picked up on the term “blood libel” from a right wingnut’s op-ed. Obviously, she liked the way the phrase sounded and never bothered to look it up. It refers to the scurrilous accusation that Jews kidnapped and murdered Christian children to use their blood to prepare Passover matzo. Charges of blood libel have spurred massacres of Jews throughout centuries; the myth was revived by Hitler and persists today from Russia to the Arab world.

The tone of Ms. Palin’s message was not appropriate for a moment of national grief. She could have used the opportunity to try to elevate the discourse, but, instead, she further coarsened it. She is acting true to her character in lashing out at critics and presenting herself as an aggrieved victim.

Reading from a teleprompter, Palin obviously took time to consider and craft her remarks. Yet she missed an opportunity to be seen as a leader. Did she really think that her 8-minute diatribe helps to heal a shocked and grieving nation? It certainly did nothing to repair her image as an incendiary politician. Her behavior, tone, and overall message in her video are beyond comprehension and – to use one of her words – reprehensible.

At a time when the country is looking for words that heal, Palin chose to do what she does best: attack and provoke. This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black because Palin does exactly what she accuses the media of doing – and she is one of those who are responsible for the coarsening of our public culture.

Sarah’s video validates once again that Sarah Palin is all about Sarah Palin. Wallowing in her own narcissism, she refuses to shoulder any responsibility for her words and actions. She sees herself as the victim of the Tucson shootings in a profoundly distorted view of reality when the true victims, the six Americans murdered just a few days ago had not yet been buried and the fourteen other victims, with lives forever altered, lay wounded recovering in hospitals.

This week has given politicians and the media an opportunity to reflect on the quality of discussion and debate in this country today – and many have – but not Sarah. Sadly, self-reflection is not one of Sarah Palin’s character traits.

Maybe Palin has finally crashed – and hopefully burned. In a perfect world, she would not politically recover from this faux pas. Although she will always be a national hero to the ignorant right-wing fringe crazies, it is my hope that on a national level, as a serious presidential candidate, she may have just imploded – unless too many in this nation forget her self-serving words about the Tucson shooting. 

Sarah Palin is once again playing the victim.