Sarah Palin is getting a lot of attention for her videotaped "blood libel" comments on Wednesday, but the best description I've read of those remarks — and why Palin should stick to the Fox News commentator/TLC reality star-Alaska tour guide business — came from Doyle McManus in the Los Angeles Times.
Here are the key sections (the last part is attached at some length) from McManus' measured analysis, though the whole thing is worth reading — especially because it highlights the absurdity of the "Did the media cause this debate?," and all the "No, we couldn't possible cause violence — but you will!" fingerpointing:
Palin had a chance with her statement on the Tucson tragedy to show voters she's equal to the demands of the presidency. Instead, the eight-minute video she released Wednesday reflected her chosen role as lightning rod of the right. Rather than rise to the occasion, she continued the partisan slugfest….
But her statement also confirmed something that should disqualify the former Alaska governor from ever seeking higher office: She has no sense of proportion….
Palin was justified in accusing her critics of unfairness in using the tragedy as a talking point and in pointing a finger at her. But she went much further than that: She asserted that their argument "serves only to incite … violence."
Consider that assertion for a moment: Palin says her words could not possibly have created a climate of violence, but claims her opponents' words are certain to.
What was missing in her statement? Any acknowledgment, even implicit, that anyone on her own side had ever stepped over the line as well. Even her own aide, Rebecca Mansour, acknowledged implicitly last week that gun sights on a map weren't a good idea. (Those weren't gun sights, just "surveyors' symbols," she said — even though Palin herself once referred to them as "bull's-eyes.")
Doubtless there are conservatives who will thrill to Palin's pugnacity. But voters in the center, where presidential elections are won, don't like the idea of politics as a blood sport. They yearn for vision, stature, steadiness, a nod toward the ideal of bipartisan compromise and evidence of real competence — from conservative and liberal candidates alike.
Palin has given them none of those things. She's making her mark as a leader of one faction, but only one. She's a genuine cult figure, raising millions of dollars from donors, selling books and starring on television. But she's not going to be her party's presidential nominee.