Sarah Palin's detractors in the media are certainly prone to wishful thinking concerning the Cuda's potential as the Republican nominee in 2012. Since Palin's statement on the Tucson tragedy, some have written her off as a serious contender for the Republican nomination. Doyle McManus states in the LA Times that
...she's not going to be her party's presidential nominee.
I disagree, Mr. McManus. As of now, if she wants it, it is hers. Of course, that may change, but a Palin run for the nomination would unleash a grassroots fury of support unseen on the right for a Republican presidential nominee in recent memory, and her detractors know it. Why else would much of the mainstream media be scrambling so often to convince independents that Palin isn't viable? Plus, many of these people just do not like Palin and what she stands for, which is a pragmatic, principled view of government and fierce American individualism. Mainstream media types generally prefer theorizing about complex strategies and solutions to problems that were most likely created by over-theorizing in the first place. It's how they were trained in academia and sometimes they just can't help it. However, life isn't complicated, and Sarah Palin knows it.
Many in the media focused on Palin's use of the term "blood libel" and the logic she used to condemn those in the media who tied her to the grisly Tucson massacre. She was trying to have it both ways, they said, by claiming it was impossible to tie the Tucson shooter's actions to political rhetoric but at the same time accusing her detractors of encouraging hatred and violence through their rhetoric. On the surface, it sounds like a solid argument against her, only those who were quick to jump all over Palin were operating under a severe misunderstanding. Her logic was rock solid, and their reasoning used to dismiss her was woefully flawed.
As we all know, many of the people accusing her of contributing to the horrific events in Tucson are some of the most bombastic, vitriolic, snide, and biased people in the American commentariat. In Palin's words, they "purport" to condemn the hatred and violence that was allegedly incited by her. What they are not understanding is that the Tuscon shooter is one man, who for all we know never saw that map on Palin's PAC website, nor ever paid any attention to the governor or her rhetoric. So, for Palin to have any potential effect on the Tuscon shooter, a causal link would have to be proven between her and the shooter. It wasn't. Therefore, Palin is not linked in any way to the Tucson tragedy... except by the manufactured, desperate link created in the media that had one intended purpose: to demonize Palin personally, something Palin certainly did not do regarding Gabrielle Giffords. That's the key difference between what Palin did and what some in the media did. It's a question of intent and motivation. They don't seem to understand that.
Let me operate under their thought processes for a moment...
When pundits go on television and spout what they did about Palin and we know for certain that it is reaching millions of viewers, some of them perhaps unhinged viewers, well... doesn't the potential exist for the commentariat's vitriol to badly influence somebody to do something terrible to the person being so passionately denounced? Isn't this what Palin's detractors would claim? Is this not their logic? Of course it's possible that somebody could be exposed to something that jives with their focus of rage or hate, but nobody is to blame but the individual. Palin understands that, because she's a self-sufficient individualist who is able to hunt, clean, and cook her own food in the wild and stay warm in the process. It's not that others couldn't do that if they wished, it's that Palin actually has and does; it's how she was raised. You can especially see who she is in her father, an altruistic, rugged individualist with solid values, a passion for educating, and a reverence for family and tradition.
The appeal of Palin is illuminated by many of the images/perceptions of both her and President Obama. Palin the badass hunts, fishes, climbs mountains, shoots caribou, rides in small planes often; the Democrats are represented by Obama, a man who flinches while watching a judo exhibition
and wears a safety helmet for a leisurely bike ride
. Fair or not, this perception exists. Palin is Theodore Roosevelt in a size 6 suit, American flag pin, and some kick ass black leather boots
, Obama is an academic who looks uncomfortable in jeans
, throws like a girl,
and can't name his alleged baseball heroes from childhood
. Again, seemingly superficial stuff, but appearances go a long way in America and can be especially ineffective when they seem contrived or overly effeminate. Hillary Clinton wanted to look like a badass when she slammed that shot of whiskey
. I won't lie; I thought it was cool. She seemed like she'd done that before.
Palin rejects the faulty reasoning levied against her regarding Tucson because she herself would never blame others for her own actions. This whole episode reveals why Sarah Palin has such a strong base. Love her or hate her, she epitomizes American individualism. This attitude seems to permeate her personal life as well as her political philosophy. She realizes that life isn't always as complicated as the "experts" claim it is. Academia is all about formulating new, complex theories that impress other academics. Most Americans only care about reasonable solutions that have a track record of success. Theorizing is fine, (heck, it's one of my favorite hobbies) but indicative of a society that has become lazy and lost its blue collar work ethic. Many Palinites realize that being a plumber, HVAC technician, or electrician is a damn good career if you can get it. It's not something to be scorned, which much of America so often makes the mistake of doing. These same people turn around and get gouged for $200 when they could have replaced their furnace ignitor themselves for $20
and the turn of one screw. Who's the moron again?
This whole issue touches upon a larger left/right way of viewing society in general. The popular logic states that the left sees larger forces at play and the right sees individual choice and personal responsibility. I'm curious why we teach our children the latter, yet as we get older, we are often expected to embrace the former.
Put simply, the media wanted blame followed by penalty for this alleged link they promoted, whereas Palin's attitude is that we cannot control what an individual does no matter what anyone does or says. Therefore, the responsibility lays on one person only: the person doing the action. In the great tradition of American individualism, Palin's philosophy regarding this scenario is mature and reasoned. Some in the media shared her view, along with her smart decision to wait for all the facts; those people were given credit here on Big Journalism by the best editor I've ever had, Dana Loesch, particularly
. Those who fell into the manufactured "Let's Blame Palin!" trap were all too ready to paint the shooter as a victim of something that compelled him to act, in this case, Palin/The Tea Party/right wing rhetoric. This is classic sociological theorizing gone amok: the individual is not important; he/she is merely a cell of a larger organism that goes where it is forced and does what it is influenced to do. We've seen this view of society infiltrate our political and legal systems over the last 100 years. Yes, I think it generally comes from a charitable place in people's hearts, but when used in conjunction with tearing down your opponents, it's irresponsible and beyond unfortunate.
The core question I'd like answered is this: What is the purpose of this witch hunt if it's not to rile people up against Sarah Palin? If she's so damn irrelevant, then this effort can't be political, can it? Lambasting her on national television, saying she is responsible for murder is inexcusable and it's personal. Even so, if some whack job did take something Keith Olbermann spat out one night while in one of his hysterical fits and acted on it, Olby would not be culpable. Sarah Palin would agree with this, even if she knew that the person was influenced by Olbermann's rhetoric. By the standard created for Palin in the Tucson case, Olbermann would be responsible. The problem, of course, is that the standard is completely bogus to begin with, a mere attempt to destroy Palin, with no basis in fact whatsoever. That's where the "purport" comes into play in Palin's statement; it's all a hypocritical, theoretical lie. Did Palin talk about how evil Giffords is? No. Did she call Giffords the "Worst Person in the World" or say she was an accessory to murder? Why didn't the media go after Chris Matthews or Olbermann or Ed Schultz? Aren't they pretty abrasive?
Palin's accusers in this case
think rhetoric is powerful enough to influence people and yet there they are, spewing their garbage toward Palin, accusing her of the same thing they would be guilty of--under their own logic--should some loon act out violently toward Palin or any other right winger. If they are so certain that lively rhetoric is dangerous, why are they practicing it themselves? The obvious conclusion must be that they want to incite violence, right? Isn't that a reasonable conclusion to come to when employing their logic?
Palin's point was rock solid and her detractors played a silly game of semantics, claiming "She's done!" along the way, all while discrediting themselves in the process, as Palin so adroitly pointed out.
She done kicked your asses, boys and girls, all while expressing mainstream American principles
that will make her the nominee in 2012, should she decide to run.
If she doesn't run, I hope she toys with the idea for the next several elections. Watching these hissy fits, which utterly destroy any small shred of credibility the mainstream media has left, is quite entertaining. I just hope they don't occur under such tragic circumstances from here on out. I think we can all agree on that.
This proxy war she's waged with the mainstream media over the last year or so is a shrewd move. Not only does it keep her name front and center in the media, but she's also honing her rhetorical chops while boning up on all her policy behind the scenes. The real battles don't take place for quite some time and she knows it. Any rumor of her demise is premature, especially considering her trademark tenacity. She's laying deep down in the weeds, ready to strike.
Chalk up another win for the Sarahcuda.