A few weeks ago while still feeling the sting of Obama’s “tax compromise” with the Republicans*, I made this comment over at Wonkette:
If only it were possible for someone, a persuasive speech-maker perhaps, someone with the type of communication and narrative skills that would propel him or her to high office, to explain to the American people over some kind mass communication device that they are being royally screwed by the Republicans who are clearly working in the best interest of billionaires and not those of millions of working people. Perhaps they could hire Sarah Palin to do the job?
My tongue was of course firmly planted in my cheek. No one on the left will ever come up with enough cash to equal Palin’s compensation as a right-wing demagogue. But I wasn’t kidding about her communication skilz. It doesn’t matter that she makes up words and can’t string a sentence together. She’s like a bestselling author whose trashy tales are bought by millions of people who don’t normally read books. Obama might give “better” speeches, but more people read Dan Brown than Cormac McCarthy.
The gunman may be a lone nut with no Tea Party affiliation, but he certainly has absorbed the messages put out by the lunatic-right — (1) we are being taken over by the forces of darkness (2) there are plans to change the currency and the only true currency is the gold standard (3) the government take over includes “Death Panels” (4) Obama is a foreign usurper, not a natural born citizen; thus the entire government has no legitimate claim.
Not only have right wing politicians and pundits put these ideas into the air, they have also offered solutions, such as failed-Senate candidate Sharon Angle’s suggestion that “second amendment remedies” are a possibility if the ballot box doesn’t do the trick. Sarah Palin infamous “crosshairs” map “targeted” Congressional districts including Gifford’s. Palin’s spokesperson, Rebecca Mansour has stated that there was no connection to guns in the use of crosshairs, but to “surveyor’s maps,” an assertion that is not only absurd on its face, but contradicted by Palin’s own words to her followers, “Don’t retreat. Reload.”
People have the right to put out these messages, but usually it was people on the fringe talking this craziness. These were not ideas endorsed by former major party candidates for the vice presidency The fact that a major television network on which political leaders often appear promotes these ideas as well, is also something we haven’t seen before.
To pretend that this isn’t a change, is naive. To believe that this isn’t a deliberate attempt to mislead and frighten people is to bury one’s head in the sand. To think that putting all this in the air won’t lead a few of the more frightened and less rational to act violently is to deny reality and history. This wasn’t the first event of its kind over the past year, simply the most dramatic.**
Rallies will not restore sanity. If responsible leaders in the conservative movement had the courage to speak up, maybe they could help. The new Speaker of The House refuses to deal with the “birthers” in his own delegation, insisting he has no right to tell people what to think. So they will continue to say aloud that the President is a foreign usurper who stole his office, and so will television personalities on Fox News. Eventually, of course some lunatic who has listened and absorbed the message, will attempt a “second amendment remedy,” while Palin, Beck and all the birthers will deny that their words had any impact.
Some people are proclaiming that the “smoking gun” of the crosshairs map, has finished Palin. They are wrong. She’s far from finished. TLC may have cancelled Palin’s reality show and the map has disappeared, but her supporters are now playing the victim card, accusing liberals and the “gotcha” media of viciously attacking her by linking her to Saturday’s events. Any rational debate on whether or not words are dangerous is now considered a left-wing attempt to malign a true American. Her Faceback supporters comment on the liberal haters who are trying to “politicize” a tragedy. The Wall Street Journal*** has weighed in with an opinion piece in which the writer labels criticism of Palin “blood libel.” So the mere suggestion that Palin might want to rethink her rhetoric, is akin to medieval Christian villagers killing Jews who they accused of sacrificing Christian children?
Palin was never going to have enough popular support to win a general election, but with Rupert Murdoch’s behind her, her power and influence will continue to grow. She is a raging fire, burning everything in her path.
*This was before the lame-duck Congress managed to get a lot of stuff done and it became apparent that the administration did in fact have a strategy, even if it involved skyrocketing the deficit. Why does Obama always make me feel like an abused spouse who gets flowers the day after a smack down?
**Last August during the height of the anti-mosque rhetoric, a Moslem taxi driver was slashed by a drunken passenger. Other incidents happened in mosques throughout the country. Gifford’s office had previously had a window busted in. Other congressional representatives and senators have also received threats due to votes on “Obamacare.”
***The Wall Street Journal is now under the ownership of Rubert Murdoch who also owns the right-wing cable station Fox News which features her as a pundit. Murdoch also controls Harper Collins, her publisher