Democrats were in major meltdown when John McCain tapped Sarah Palin as his running mate just days before the Republican National Convention in 2008, in large part, because Sarah Palin was the change agent Barack Obama claimed to be. As governor of Alaska, she actually took on entrenched interests, worked across party lines and shook up her state’s political establishment.
No wonder Democrats (and their allies in the MSM) chose to ignore her actual record of accomplishment and dwell on her occasional verbal gaffes.
She has become better at handling the media today than she was in the campaign. She’s won every round with them since she stepped down as governor July 2009. But, in winning, she has made herself less presidential. She has gone toe to toe with the media rather than let others challenge their malicious (and often inaccurate) reporting.
On Wednesday, she released a statement on the shooting in Arizona and, as she put it, “the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.” On the whole, it was a sound statement, but save for her vigorous defense of America and its ideals, entirely unnecessary. Long before she released this video, she had, thanks to countless pundits and bloggers (including some on the left) already won this round — and decisively.
With no evidence to tie her to the mentally unbalanced men who shot Congresswoman Giffords and murdered six innocent civilians, those accusing her were quickly exposed and denounced.
She didn’t need to say anything.
The problem with her video was not its content, but that she entered the fray when others were already defending her against the malicious attacks from Paul Krugman et al. And even after beclowning themselves with said attacks, they went on the rampage again on Wednesday attacking her for using the expression “blood libel” in her video message. They just can’t help themselves; they’re just looking for an excuse to attack her — as if they need vent against this charismatic conservative in order to quiet some demon plaguing their psyches.
A number of people, including Rabbi Schmuley Boteach in today’s Wall Street Journal, believe “Sarah Palin has every right to use” that expression since, as that rabbi put it, it “may be used whenever an amorphous mass is collectively accused of being murderers or accessories to murder.” She and Tea Party activists had been so accused.
Her use of the expression may not have been inappropriate, but issuing the statement itself was ill-advised. She, as Paul Mirengoff put it, “might have been better advised not to speak at length about the massacre, knowing that Obama was giving to do so, and quite likely in a boffo way. But again, this goes to her political prudence, not the propriety or quality of her remarks.”
In fighting back against the slights she has suffered from the mainstream media, Sarah Palin has proven herself to be a resilient presence on our national stage. She has helped rally conservatives and defend our ideas. But, she hasn’t, in the past eighteen months, demonstrated the qualities which initially drew John McCain’s attention to her, her ability to rise above the fray and govern in the public interest.
To be sure, today she lacks the public office she held from 2006-2009. But, to appear statesman-like, she should trust to new media to expose the attacks from their older counterparts.
Sarah Palin has succeeded as a conservative celebrity, but in so doing, has become less presidential than she was when she first catapulted onto the national stage.
UPDATE: Seems Jennifer Rubin, Charles Krauthammer and I are on the same page:
Sarah Palin was justified in using “blood libel” says Charles Krauthammer. But still, “it was unnecessary, her speech, because she then re-injected herself into this and made herself the center of this, restarted the debate — and started a debate on the irrelevancy of the blood libel.”