Evaluating Palin's Response to the Giffords Shooting

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Sarah Palin hates violence and war--she just happens talk about it because it makes a middle-aged mom with glasses and a hair pouf  sound tough. Harsh judgment, but even those who see no connection between Palin's rough rhetoric (complete with gunsights) and the Giffords shooting aren't impressed with her response to the tragedy. Giffords's shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, appears to have been mentally ill and did not mention Palin--or the infamous map--a single time in his prolific writing online. Still, some have wondered, will Palin, considering a run for the White House in two years, manage to look presidential in this moment of tragedy?

First, Palin offered her condolences to the shooting victims via a Facebook note Saturday. Monday night, Palin offered more of a response through Glenn Beck, who read an email exchange he had with her, The Wall Street Journal's Neil King, Jr. reports. Beck, offering the Mama Grizzly some advice on private personal security, sympathizing with her predicament, and reminding her that "peace is always the answer" apparently told Palin "an attempt on you could bring the republic down." Palin replied, "I hate violence. I hate war ... Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence. Thanks for all you do to send the message of truth and love and God as the answer."

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Good enough? Should Palin have issued a mea culpa for her infamous crosshairs map, given how tasteless it looks in light of recent events? Should she have broken from her usual online medium? Or, given that there's no evidence of causation, should she be given a break?

  • Not Good Enough, David Frum writes at Frum Forum. "Palin failed to appreciate the question being posed to her. That question was not: 'Are you culpable for the shooting?' The question was: 'Having put this unfortunate image on the record, can you respond to the shooting in a way that demonstrates your larger humanity? And possibly also your potential to serve as leader of the entire nation?'" Frum says Palin "has yet to give the answer called for by events." Palin must demonstrate that she takes "the accusation seriously," show real grief and compassion, "join the conversation," talk about mental health, and say what she would say if she were president right now. But instead, her response team has just maintained her innocence. Which is true! "And also perfectly inadequate. Palin's post-shooting message was about Palin, not about Giffords. It was defensive, not inspiring. And it was petty at a moment when Palin had been handed perhaps her last clear chance to show herself presidentially magnanimous."
  • Yes It Is, William A. Jacobson counters at Legal Insurrection. Responding to Frum, Jacobson writes, "Why shouldn't innocence be a complete defense when you are dealing with people spreading lies? ... Frum wants Palin to play on a the field drawn by vicious liars who never will be satisfied with any response from Palin.  Any of the responses Frum suggests, such as going to Giffords' office to lay flowers, would have ignited even more dishonest fury from the left-blogosphere and mainstream media."
  • She Could Have Impressed Moderates, Outside the Beltway's Steven L. Taylor writes. "[O]ne would think that there are more productive ways for her and her camp to deal with this situation... [one in which] Palin could have actually made a positive impression with people who do not like her, and yet she has not taken the opportunity. And I do not mean this is terms of simple political opportunism, but in terms of the simple fact that sometimes one is presented with a challenge to which one has a chance to rise."
  • She Doesn't Look Compassionate, Kathy Kattenburg says at The Moderate Voice. Palin's "stands out to me, and not for a good reason. It’s so cold. I don’t know how anyone can read those words and not be struck by the force of Palin’s indifference. And no, I don’t expect her to weep and wail. I just expect her (or maybe expect is the wrong word; I wish she would) sincerely care. If she does, those words don’t convey it."
  • This Wasn't Palin's 'Last Clear Chance' Jonathan Bernstein writes, disputing Frum's assertion that Palin won't have any more opportunities to win people over. She have a lot of events to react to in the 2012 campaign. "There are lots of Republicans who would would be open to changing their minds about her, if she gave them a reason. It's just that every time she's had the chance, she pushes everyone outside of her personal faction away. That is, she's so far shown herself either incapable or unwilling to be more than a factional candidate, and factional candidates don't win presidential nominations, at least not since around 1976 or so."
  • Palin Should Go Offline, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer told The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg and Kate Zernike. Palin should wait a few days to react, Fleischer said, but, "At a time like this... what the nation wants more than anything else is for people to rise above the nonsense and the politics and to be gracious. There’s nothing like letting people see your heart, your emotion. Facebook and Twitter don’t convey emotion."

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