Friday, January 14, 2011

A Thundering Silence?

Yesterday the internet was all a-buzz with two things, President Obama's beautiful, heart-wrenching speech in Tucson and Sarah Palin's snarky, scripted poor-picked-on-me speech on Facebook. It was gratifying to see how many people, right and left, praised the President's speech. Responses to It's-All-About-Me Palin's speech were equally fascinating in a wow-that's-one-monster-trainwreck kind of way.

There was plenty of criticism of her speech, especially her use of the term “blood libel”, but what was even more stunning was the huge, thundering silence from people who normally support Internet Lady. Last night on Countdown Dave Weigel from Slate made an interesting analogy. He talked about the final scene in the movie Gladiator when the emperor breaks his sword and desperately asks someone to give him theirs – and no one will. It's that P.T. Barnum moment when you can no longer fool most people. Sure there will be a few who, out of misguided loyalty or intransigent stubbornness, will continue to be fooled – Pat Buchanan said he thought Palin “hit all the right notes” – but the rest of the crowd starts backing away.

For months, in fact years, I've been blogging about the destructive tone of hate that is ubiquitous these days. It is true we do not know what prompted Jared Loughner to go on a shooting rampage. He was a mentally ill man with a rapid-fire gun and lots of bullets. That all by itself is enough – he was crazy and dangerous. But you cannot remove any act from the context in which it occurred. Even crazy people have some awareness of the world around them. Maybe Loughner never even heard of Sarah Palin but he lived in a society where violent metaphor was an everyday part of the 24 news cycle with which we are all bombarded. And there are facts that cannot be denied:

  1. Sarah Palin posted a map on web site in which cross-hairs marked the home districts of the people she wanted to “target”. One of the “targeted” politicians was Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona (above).
  2. In March Gabrielle Giffords gave an interview in which she said she was targeted in Palin's map and she was disturbed by the irresponsible imagery put forth in that map (below).
  3. On Saturday Rep. Giffords was shot in the head by a crazy man with a gun.

It is true that #1 did not necessarily lead to #3 but Palin's defensive, bitter speech which was loaded with patriotic buzz words and talking points, sounded more like the whiny protests of an adolescent trying to get out of taking responsibility than the compassion and inspiration of a leader – or someone who wants to be a leader.

As for her use of the term “blood libel” much has been written about that, none of it good. Palin's Number One Fan, by his own admission in his fawning interview of her, is Glenn Beck. Beck is best known for his ranting and raving about absolutely anything President Obama does and his constant, incessant use of Nazi/Hitler metaphors and images. These to the point that lead comedian Lewis Black to declare that Glenn Back has “Nazi Tourettes” in one of the funniest bits of comedy I have ever seen. So is it any wonder that Palin chose the “blood libel” metaphor to describe her abuse at the hands of the big, mean Nazi Wannabes that Beck has been warning everybody about? Beck has been warning us for two years now that the brown-shirts are coming. Doesn't it just follow that they are armed with a blood libel against his darling? The whole dynamic is revolting.

Will Sarah make a comeback after this disturbing incident? Well, she'll try. She is going on Sean Hannity's show in a few days. A safe choice for Internet Lady who has amply demonstrated she can't handle any media she isn't in control of. Will people continue to support her? Of course there will be a few who will because she's attractive and they like her and she uses all the empty, flag-waving buzz words she can pack into every sentence. But for those not deluded by such superficialities the silence has begun.

Thanks for reading.


  1. kathleen, i agree with you about sarah palin. i hope the gig is up with the public.

  2. Kathleen:
    I enjoyed reading your commentary this morning, albeit a day late. Nevertheless your tone, subject and presentation rang true. There should be little doubt Palin has been laughing all the way to the bank for quite some time and she should know by now that nothing lasts forever, not even her grandstanding and irresponsible commentary. Perhaps it is human nature that many humans are little more than sheep in need of a wolf. But her herd is lessening. If she was not a woman, physically attractive when new on the scene, she would have been laughed out of town, or country. But makeup and rifles can only take one just so far. Most people aren't so stupid as to think she has any bit of well thought dialogue in her, not now, from the past or future. As with much of society what appeals to her is premising her thoughts with primal fear, that unless she is listened to America will fall apart. But no more so than the rants we find in our local newspaper. Munn, Ford, Susan, Baird, all ring the tone of 'my way or no way', offering little more giving readers a chance to be their therapists. Perhaps they sleep better at night. Perhaps not. We have allowed the bar to be set so low that merely voicing an opinion is akin to solving the problem, and in some instances, convincing ourselves that all is well in our society. But that is not a new concept. Pride and prejudice have and always will stand in the way of a moral conscience. Partisan discourse and honest leadership are necessary. One can only imagine our possibilities if not for so many self-crowned leaders jumping in the way of progress. So, what do we do? Lead by example is one course. Patience is another. Remembering that words alone cannot move mountains, and that working together common ground and agreement is possible. Palin has run her course. An embarrassment to Alaska as well as the entire country, her flame continues to flicker where once it shone brightly. Every dog has its day.

  3. Thank you, both, for your thoughtful comments. In my opinion, Palin will continue to be very, very public and those invested in keeping her out there will do everything they can to maintain that but I think the mask has come off and a lot more people now see her for the bitter, vengeful, narcissistic person she is.

    Let's hope others wise up as well.


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