Sarah Palin

Nice Speech, But We Won't Be Coming Together
January 13, 2011

The President’s speech last night was beautiful but ultimately, a magnificent punt. It was brave for Obama to crisply dismiss the idea that partisan rhetoric is what drove Jared Loughner to kill, given how much currency that idea now has among the bien-pensant kinds of people who elected him.

Lord Help Me, I'm Defending Palin
January 12, 2011

Okay, it's a little over the top for Sarah Palin to accuse her critics of "blood libel." But she does have a basic point. She had nothing to do with Jared Loughner. He was not an extremist who embraced some radical version of her ideas. And her use of targets to identify districts Republicans were, um, targetting is not exceptional or prone to incite anybody. What's happening is that Palin has come to represent unhinged grassroots conservatism, and people in the media immediately (and incorrectly) associated Loughner with the far right.

After Tucson, A Reality Check
January 12, 2011

After the horrible tragedy in Tucson, many are rightly criticizing Sarah Palin’s use of crosshairs on a campaign map showing the districts represented by members of Congress she wanted to oust in 2010, including that of Gabrielle Giffords. It isn’t the only example of Palin’s penchant for inflammatory imagery or language.

Sarah Palin's Missed Presidential Moment
January 10, 2011

Yeah, okay, I’ll write about her. But really only because I want to quote Ta-Nehisi Coates: I would never put gun-sights on the districts of my political opponents. Should violence break out, I don’t even want to be in the conversation as a factor--contributing or causal. We may never know what caused Loughner to snap. But at night, I’d like the security of knowing that it could not have possibly been me. Perhaps Sarah Palin has that sense of security. I can’t know. It’s always tough to try to get into the heads of our politicians.

What If Barbara Jordan Had Said 'Don't Retreat, Reload'?
January 10, 2011

Does anybody truly believe, even in the wake of something as hideous as what happened in Tucson last weekend, that we can do something as quixotic and indefinable as policing incendiary language on the web? I get it if calling for this is about politics. But is anybody really thinking that this debate is about something real? The object of discussion is real enough: the coarser brand of language we hear along the lines of Ms. Palin’s “Don’t retreat, reload” line, which is a symptom of a larger ill, the escalation of political polarization.

The Arizona Shooting Is Not A Product Of Right-Wing Rage
January 10, 2011

Conservatives are furious that the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords is being pinned on them. Their indignation is justified. The mania of Giffords's would-be assassin may be slightly more right-wing than left-wing, but, on the whole, it is largely disconnected from even loosely organized extreme right-wing politics. The rhetorical attempts to connect Jared Loughner to mainstream politics take two forms, neither convincing. One is to condemn the use of combat metaphors in politics, such as Sarah Palin's web page superimposing gunsights upon Democratic districts targeted by the GOP.

The Tucson Shooter and Arizona Politics
January 09, 2011

Perhaps the stupidest and least surprising comment about the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson came from New York Times columnist Matt Bai. Bai, the author of an interesting book about Democratic politics, analyzed the political environment—the universe of discourse that framed the alleged attempt at assassination by Arizonan Jared Lee Loughner. Here is what he wrote: Within minutes of the first reports Saturday that Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and a score of people with her had been shot in Tucson, pages began disappearing from the Web.

In Her Own Words
January 09, 2011

WASHINGTON—There is one commentator whose words should enlighten us on the meaning of Saturday's shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the savage murders that took the lives of, among others, a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl.

Republican Strategery
January 06, 2011

National Journal has a new poll of Republican insiders over who is likely to be nominated for president: Republican insiders are screwy! I keep saying this: Mitt Romney has a serious flip-flopper problem and a far more serious not-insane-on-health-care problem. He can't solve the latter without worsening the former. It's over. What's really odd is that Sarah Palin is up three points. Her polling numbers against Obama have cratered and the whole establishment, even former defenders, is ganging up on her. And what did Pawlenty do to crater? Nothing I can think of.

Matt Bai Still Doesn't Understand Political Parties
December 30, 2010

There’s just so much to get to in Matt Bai’s latest, in today’s NYT, on the 2012 presidential contest. First of all, Bai swallows whole the myth of “next in line” in GOP nominations contests. Next, I don’t really understand what he’s trying to say in his glance at history. Yes, Ford/Reagan in 1976 was the last contest that was a “thriller” in the sense of not being decided until the end (actually, the only one like that on the GOP side under the modern nomination system).

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