Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Palin’

Sarah Palin’s blood slander

January 25, 2011

The trouble with Sarah Palin is not her choice of language,  nor her choice of images on her campaign literature.   The trouble with Sarah Palin is that she tells lies.  I have in mind one particular lie – the lie that President Obama intended and that the Affordable Care Act really did set up “death panels” to euthanize the terminally sick elderly and the physically handicapped.

If this really were true, the rage against the Obama administration would be fully justified, and the vandalism and threats against Democrats who voted for the bill would be, if not justified, understandable.

But the problem with lies is not that they provoke violence.  The problem with lies is that they are not true.  They make it impossible to choose candidates, set policies and legislate on the basis of reality and real issues.

Most working Americans have little leisure.  They don’t have time to fact-check what politicians and TV commentators have to say.  If something is said by someone who is a former governor, former Republican candidate for vice-president and a commentator for a national TV network, there is no reason why the ordinary person should not accept it as true.  If the statement is contradicted by some other politician or some other commentator, who is to decide who is right?  Maybe the truth lies somewhere in between.

I would call Sarah Palin a liar, but I fear she is something worse than someone who knowingly says things that aren’t true.  The worse thing is someone who cannot distinguish between truth and falsehood, but only between what their side says and the other side says.

Click on Tone Versus Substance for Conor Friedersdorf’s comment on The American Scene web log, which makes the same point.

Click on PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year for background on the origins of the  “death panel” claim and phrase.

Click on Sarah Palin and the Father of Lies for commentary on the Obsidian Wings group web log on how Sarah Palin is empowered by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Sarah Palin’s targets and Gabrielle Giffords

January 9, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who was shot Saturday by an apparently-deranged gunman.  A 22-year-old man named Jared Lee Loughner has been charged with killing  six people, including U.S. District Judge John Roll and a 9-year-old girl, and wounding 14 others, including Giffords.

Rep. Giffords was one of 20 Democratic incumbents targeted for defeat in the 2010 elections in a graphic on Sarah Palin’s Facebook page.  Gov. Palin reportedly has deleted this graphic along with other violent language and imagery.  I think this is wise.  It is time to ease up on the violent rhetoric.  But it also is time to ease up on the guilt-by-association.

Markos Moulitas, editor of the Daily Kos web page, tweeted, “Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin.”  That was a low blow.  I do not believe that Gov. Palin wished anybody’s death, and there is nothing we now know about Loughner to connect him with the Tea Party or conservative Republicans.

Whenever some crazy criminal commits a crime like this, there is always someone to connect it with some political tendency in American life.  I have heard many people cite Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, as an example of right-wing fundamentalism, based on the fact that he was a white man with a crew cut; McVeigh was a Gulf War veteran obsessed with the war crimes he felt the U.S. government committed.

About the same time, then House Speaker Newt Gingrich, based on no evidence whatever, attributed a woman’s murder of her children to the influence of liberalism.  Many conservatives connected the Unabomber’s hatred of science and technology to Al Gore’s environmentalism.  And every crime committed by a Muslim is attributed to the Muslim religion.

I do think the violence and implied threats in some of the Tea Party rhetoric (“we came unarmed – this time”) are, at best, not constructive.  What matters is not what any one person says on any particular occasion, but the cumulative effect, day after day.  At the same time I reserve the right to use strong language myself when President Obama claims the right to issue death warrants, keep people imprisoned and send people to be tortured, without charging them with any crime.