Sarah Palin ended any chance she had at the presidency of the United States of America yesterday when she posted her “blood libel” video and announced to the world her better angels are obsessed with blame, self-defense, and finger-pointing instead of leadership, religious epithets instead of openness and understanding, and one-upsmanship instead of honoring timing and tradition.
Make no mistake. Palin’s absence from the media frenzy, a frenzy that started seconds after the first shot was fired in Tucson, Arizona by Jared Lee Loughner, is not to be considered hiding. It was a full-scale strategy session during which she, aside from whatever praying she claims she did, was scheming and strategizing how best to handle the avalanche of attacks from the Left she was receiving (deservedly so.)
So Queen Sarah decided she would fight back.
Palin’s highly-produced seven-minute forty-three second video, complete with American flag and fireplace, and, much to the Right’s chagrin, teleprompter reflections in her glasses, was produced in her in-home television studio. She tried oh-so-hard to appear and act presidential. But as Republican writer and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, David Frum said yesterday, “She’s mad– that showed. She’s madder than she is sad.” Frum added, “When you apply for a job, you should dress for the job you want. She dressed for the job she has.”
Frum was speaking both metaphorically and literally. Palin saw this as her moment and tried to look presidential, but she just didn’t have it in her.
Worse, she didn’t have the words or the focus or the context or the understanding of what was required at that very moment. Palin could not grasp the essential concept that what was required at that very moment, what Americans so desperately needed was leadership and commonality, a bringing-together, not a polarizing blame-game, which she all-to-eagerly provided.
You know who did a better job than Palin? Reluctant hero Daniel Hernandez, the twenty-year old Giffords intern who on day five of his first week on the (volunteer) job ran toward the bullets that killed six people and wounded fourteen others, and helped save Gabby Giffords life. Last night, Hernandez stood in front of a crowd of twenty-six thousand, plus cameras from all the news channels, and millions of Americans, and spoke — with neither notes nor teleprompter — and said, “e plurbus unum: out of many, one.”
A concept a twenty-year old college intern grasped, that a forty-six year-old former Republican Vice Presidential candidate, former Governor, former chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, former Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, former “Miss Congeniality,” former sportscaster, and former head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Sarah Palin, could not, and has offered no evidence she ever will.
Add to that her roundly condemned use of the term “blood libel,” which I will not debate here. Political figures and pundits like Palin are not to be given a pass. We are not to say, “Maybe she didn’t know what she was really saying.” She knew, and if she didn’t she should have known, and if she didn’t know (even if she did) she should have pulled the video and immediately apologized, not ignored the criticism that came within the first few hours the video was posted. Palin has yet to offer any commentary, or any apology or explanation.
Imagine a President Palin making a gaffe, an international insult, and letting it go un-acknowledged. No apology, no effort to make amends, just insult and injury and subsequent international incident. Would she lead us into a war for lack of cultural understanding or worse, for cultural understanding?
So let’s be clear here.
Yesterday, Wednesday, January 12, 2011, Sarah Palin effectively ended her presidential career and professional political career in public service.
America yesterday saw the real Sarah Palin, and it was not a welcome sight. America saw a person unable to lead, unable to unite, unable to rise above and give voice to our better angels, unable to understand the first amendment, unable to understand cultural and religious differences, unable to apologize, unable to show compassion or (yes,) empathy. And America, maybe most distasteful to all, regardless of party, saw a person too emotionally-invested in playing a victim, rather than rising above victimhood.
What would a President Palin have said last night in Tucson, Arizona? Would she have united the country, as President Obama did? Would she have quelled our fears, helped us shed our anger and divisiveness as President Obama did? Would she have shown empathy and compassion and respected the multi-cultural aspects of the memorial service, as President Obama did?
America has needed Sarah Palin to apologize for her crosshairs map. She has not. America has needed Sarah Palin to apologize for making the story always about Sarah Palin. She has not. And after she released her career-ending Jew-disparaging Christianist-enveloped American-Exceptionalism-laden first-amendment-slaying video, America needed Sarah Palin to apologize for that too. She has not.
Palin tried to “one-up” President Obama yesterday. She tried, and lost. And she lost it all.
Sam Stein writes today in the Huffington Post, “Thursday’s papers have been filled with largely unfavorable contrasts for the former Alaska governor. And at least one Democratic member of Congress has decided to declare that the Palin trajectory is now firmly in downturn mode, her brand tarnished.
“I think that the president’s message is going to prevail,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) told the Bill Press Show on Thursday. “In fact I think Sarah Palin may be looking at the end of her political ride. I think she may be at the end of her ride right now. If Sarah Palin would have said ‘you know what, I probably have been responsible for overblown rhetoric and I’m going to watch myself,’ that would be different. But she is completely unrepentant. And the enormity of this tragedy, I think, put a very, very clear damper on her prospects. And her reaction even dampers her political ride more.”
Unrepentant, as she thinks she has nothing for which to repent. And that’s a problem.
Political analyst Andy Ostroy today writes of Palin, “It it is precisely this sanctimonious, defiant and soulless video sermon that history will one day point to as the end of her legitimate political career.”
He adds, “this week she quite foolishly and voluntarily gave us something we can 100% blame her for. Her behavior, tone and overall message in the video was beyond comprehension. Not only does it demonstrate a pathological narcissism, but a supreme ignorance of history (the unfortunate “Blood Libel” reference); a shocking lack of empathy, sensitivity and compassion; a reprehensible use of the words”blood,” “pistols” and ”shooting” to accent her points; and outrageously offensive timing in terms of releasing it on the same day as the memorial. One has to ask, just what on Earth was she thinking? Did she really expect this 8-minute diatribe to show humility and repair her image? To help heal a shocked and grieving nation?
“Over the past three years, many have suggested that Palin’s odd behavior and statements constitutes a train wreck. But in a train wreck there first needs to be the actual crash. To date, despite moments of near-derailment, Palin’s stayed on track. But with this video she has finally crashed, and crashed for good. She cannot and will not recover from this politically.”
Salon’s Steve Kornacki simply writes, “OK, so it’s not going to be Sarah Palin in ’12 …”
Politico’s Jonathan Martin offers this: “At sunrise in the East on Wednesday, Sarah Palin demonstrated that she has little interest — or capacity — in moving beyond her brand of grievance-based politics. And at sundown in the West, Barack Obama reminded even his critics of his ability to rally disparate Americans around a message of reconciliation.”
“The strongest way to rise above would have been to talk about suffering, tragedy, hope, strength and recovery,” said former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer. “Instead, she followed the more conventional political route and made it about herself rather than the victims.”
“What few Republicans wanted to say for attribution — but what was manifestly clear — was that Palin had made Obama look even bigger than he was.”
Mark Green, former New York politician and former president of Air America Radio, today writes in the Huffington Post, “as of today, there has been one political ramification of note — Sarah Palin is done as a presidential candidate. After her video disparaging critics as guilty of a “blood libel,” she should be shunned and will be shunned. As John Kenneth Galbraith said of Black Monday in 1929, “the end had come but was not yet in sight.”
“Everyone in public life, given enough time, will misspeak, stumble, say something foolish. But the public and peers will hold it against them only if it betrays a larger unpleasant reality.
“So when President Obama said as a candidate that there were “57 states” or once teased the Special Olympics, he quickly corrected himself and apologized for a brain burp. Whatever one’s politics, it’s hard to deny that he’s a person of enormous intelligence who makes few such mistakes. No pattern. No betrayal. No harm.
“But when Senator Joe McCarthy tried to smear a young associate of opposing council Joseph Welch in the June, 1954 Army-McCarthy Hearings, the folksy Welch said in his now epic retort, “Have you no decency sir? At long last, have you no sense of decency?” It was later regarded as the beginning of the end for someone who was a hateful liar.”
And it’s the hateful liars that usually get their comeuppance. Green adds, “America will elect people from different parties but what Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama all had in common was that they either ran on or in fact were unifying figures who didn’t hate others. Palin is the most divisive national political figure of my lifetime. Because she has not shown any of the experience, intellect, character or temperament to be a serious presidential contender — and because Republican leaders are not politically stupid — she has now officially been destroyed as a serious candidate not by the “lamestream” media but by herself. She’s her own worst enemy.”
And, taking the president’s lead, let’s leave it at that.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.