A nine-year-old girl who just wanted to meet her congresswoman is dead. Democracy itself is under assault with the shooting death of a federal judge and a congressional aide, and the attempted murder of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The accused shooter has a troubling history that raises questions about how we care for the mentally ill and whom we allow to have a gun. Heroes emerged, including citizens who threw themselves atop the shooter to stop further bloodshed, and the congressional intern who used his first aid training to attend to his wounded boss, possibly saving her life. Doctors in Tucson have performed medical miracles, saving a woman who arrived at the hospital after having a bullet go straight through her head. [Photo Gallery: Gabrielle Giffords Shooting in Arizona.]
But to failed vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, it’s all about Sarah Palin. The former Alaska governor, displaying a stunning level of narcissism, has managed to present herself as both victim and savior in this tragic era. In a Facebook video--flanked by an American flag, as if she were speaking from the Far Northwestern White House--Palin described herself as the target, lambasting journalists and pundits who engage in "blood libel" against her. Meanwhile, Palin continues her campaign to keep a segment of the American public in fear and in contempt of their government, hardly a recipe for the sort of civility and cooperation the nation so desperately needs. [See editorial cartoons about Sarah Palin.]
But it’s good for Sarah Palin, who may or may not be running for president in 2012, but who certainly is benefiting financially from the controversy surrounding her. Her books, her reality TV show--the success of both depend on Palin keeping herself in the spotlight. [Read more about the 2012 presidential election.]
Unfortunately for Palin, her offensive response merely underscores how ill-prepared she is for a national campaign. The use of the term "blood libel," a term that stems from anti-Semitic claims that Jews used the blood of Christian children for nefarious means, is offensive to all civilized people. Her cowardice, using the Internet to make her statements instead of appearing in public and taking questions from the press she so despises, is not a quality desired in a president. Her remarks stand in such embarrassing contrast to others in public service--not just President Obama, who gave a beautiful and inspirational speech at the memorial service Wednesday night, but also Speaker John Boehner, who delivered a truly lovely tribute to the victims on the House floor Wednesday, and who has rightly pointed out that an attack on a member of Congress is an attack on representative democracy. Boehner has been unfairly ridiculed for his tendency to tear up during emotional moments; his soft weeping on the floor Wednesday only served to underscore the shared pain Americans feel, and to remind all of us that Congress is made up of human beings, not political caricatures. Palin’s not remotely in their league. She should stick to reality TV. [See photos of Palin and her family.]
- See photos of the Gabrielle Giffords Shooting in Arizona.
- Take the poll: Is Political Rhetoric To Blame for Arizona Shooting?
- Read more about the Arizona shooting and Gabrielle Giffords.