In spite of the pleas from the Left for more civility in public discourse, the vitriol against Sarah Palin appears to be on the rise, and death threats against her are increasing. Public comments in recent days have been exceptionally nasty. And some of the comments I received here, in connection with the Tucson massacre, were absolutely awful.
The panel on Fox News Sunday addressed the Sarah Palin matter, and they resisted the tide of calumny. But as they evaluated her videotaped response, all four – Mara Liasson, Brit Hume, Bill Kristol, and Juan Williams – all seemed to miss the point of her statement and why it was necessary. They all evaluated it only as a defensive move, and as a group, they mostly felt that it wasn’t needed because the point about conservative rhetoric having anything to do with the massacre had been effectively dismissed.
The point they missed, which is a point that can’t be made enough, is that the response of the Left in trying to cast blame on conservatives, was in itself vitriol and represents absolute hypocrisy. In the name of trying to tone down the rhetoric, they have actually ratcheted it up. And that was her point. And I feel that she made it very well, and it did need to be made.
I was heartened to see that in an online survey on the Fox News website, where they asked visitors whether they thought her videotaped statement was appropriate or not, the results were overwhelmingly positive, by about five to one. But among pundits, few want to stick their necks out by defending her. It’s a shame.
Having said that, I do think that Brit Hume made an excellent point that caused me to reflect, and that is about her viability as a candidate. To illustrate the point, I will mention an incident in my own background. Years ago, in a professional dental organization, I led a group that was seeking to reform certain practices of that organization. After our battles were won, I had a number of dentists who wanted to see me on the national Board of Directors, so I applied and was endorsed by the nominating committee. At the annual meeting, my friends advised me to keep a low profile. If I were too vocal about some of the issues that were coming up before the membership, it would hurt my chances at being elected. Well, I was honestly rather ambivalent about serving on the board, and I made a decision that it was more important to have these issues fully aired than for me to be elected to the board, so I made my comments, ruffled some feathers, and narrowly lost the election. That seems to me to be Sarah Palin’s position on the national political scene. She has a strong core of dedicated followers, who may be a majority of active Republicans. But there are a lot of people who don’t follow politics that closely who have been poisoned by all the vitriol against her. It could be a difficult hurdle for her to overcome. I think that in the coming presidential election cycle, she could serve best as an endorser – an outsider who can help conservatives focus on one candidate. If conservatives split among too many candidates, it may prevent any one of them from winning the nomination. But if she helps us focus on one, she could be the deciding influence.
If she runs, I’ll probably support her. But I’m hoping she’ll play the endorser role, in which case I’ll likely support whomever she endorses.