Sarah Palin: Graceless Under Pressure

Sarah Palin finally made a public statement over the Arizona shootings and the criticism directed at her over her part in creating an atmosphere of incivility and outright hostility in the American political discourse.

It wasn’t her finest moment. She included an obscure anti-Semitic referral to “blood libel” in her meandering, nearly eight minutes in length video.

Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. 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.

Poor Palin. Even when she tries to get right, she’s STILL wrong. She focused more on defending herself than conveying true sympathy for Rep. Giffords and the other victims. Graceless under pressure.

Writing in the Huffington Post Rabbi Brent Hirschfield explained the meaning behind a “blood libel” and why Jews took offense to Palin’s usage of the phrase.  First let’s be clear about what a blood libel is. In the briefest terms, it is the charge that Jews use the blood of non-Jews, typically that of children, for ritual purposes, especially the making of Passover matzah.

The charge, which originated among medieval Catholics, has also been used by Protestants and more recently by Muslims too, to provoke rage at Jews — rage which on many occasions resulted in violence against Jews, and even their murders. That’s what makes Palin’s use of the term so interesting — for the analogy to work, she must be the Jew!

Palin channeled the Great Communicator when she said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.”

That’s groovy and hip and a sentiment I think most would agree with. Where she gets in trouble with me is in the following line: ” It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

Where is Palin’s taking responsibility for the gun sights trained on the districts of Democratic representatives including that of Gabrielle Giffords? Where was Palin’s concession that perhaps “Don’t Retreat–instead RELOAD” might not have been the best way to get her point across?

There was none of that. Just her usual lashing out against her enemies in the press.  When she should rise above the fray once again she gets dragged down by her inability to never overlook a slight. How sadly predictable. How typically Palinesque.

Palin uses loaded words and images and then tries to act surprised when they go off. No, she didn’t pull the trigger in Arizona and I wasn’t expecting her to issue any half-assed apologies, but she could have expressed a little less of the “why is everybody picking on ME?” whining and a lot more of the “let’s set aside our differences and come together as Americans to help the victims and start the healing.”

She could have done that, but she decided to stick to her guns. As usual, it’s all about Sarah. Graceless under pressure.

Somewhere in those eight minutes she and her speechwriters should have referenced an even greater communicator than Reagan and that’s Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

This was a missed opportunity by the ex-governor. She could have used this moment to grow in stature and look as though she had it within her to lead a nation instead of a conservative movement. She chose instead to toss aside the opportunity for statesmanship and lashed out bitterly while throwing red meat to the her base.

In the always churning and swirling political waves, prominent figures both ride the wave and are swept under. But Palin’s arrogance, sense of entitlement and narcissism was on full display in her video message. She wants to be president and she’s shown she can be plenty tough and unyielding in her principles. What she has always shown in her reflexive swagger is a complete lack of humility.

Barack Obama has a swagger. George W. Bush had a swagger and a smirk to go along with it. You have to if you’re going to take the incoming flak from your opponents, but it seems playing defense and issuing smackdowns is all Sarah Palin is about.

These are not qualities I want from someone who would be making critical decisions that weigh on all Americans.

Palin fires back at her detractors