Recent polls suggest that President Obama would handily defeat the Grizzly Bear mom from Alaska if she were to be the Republican nominee in 2012. Obama fares well in these polls against all comers but Palin appears to be the weakest of his potential opponents. So, her moment in the sun as a serious national candidate was already waning before the shocking shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, but the backlash against the over-the-top rhetoric of the ridiculous right may prove to be the tipping point that relegates Palin to the status of former politician without portfolio. To the extent that this shooting incident is seen as a logical and foreseeable consequence of the anger inflamed by Tea Party politics, Palin may be the biggest loser.
Why Palin? Because of the graphic below, which appeared on Palin’s website during the last election. The gun sight cross-hairs over the districts of targeted Democrats, including Representative Giffords, will become the iconic proof of politics gone too far. In the next few days, expect the national conversation to be dominated by blowback against the politics of hate that has been the hallmark of the Tea Party. But, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and this graphic provides the eloquent testimony that will be the undoing of Palin, especially when coupled with her irresponsible call, “don’t react, reload.”
At the time this graphic appeared on the Palin website, Representative Giffords’ own response was chilling in light of the shooting.
“We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list,” Ms. Giffords said last March. “But the thing is the way that she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that.”
Beyond the tragic consequences in Tucson this weekend, one would hope that the long term consequences will be the demise of the politicians who have been too willing to reap political benefit from hate-mongering.
Here is an early sampling of the blowback of which I speak, and this is not some rambling of the liberal media of the east coast. These are the words of the sheriff on the scene and of the Congressman from the adjacent Congressional district in Arizona.
‘When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government,’ Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told a news conference.
‘The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous.
‘And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.’
He added: ‘That may be free speech. But it’s not without consequence.’
And here is the report about the statement of Congressman Grijalva:
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who represents a district adjacent to Gabrielle Giffords’s, said that Saturday’s shooting is a consequence of the vitriolic rhetoric that has arisen over the past few years among extreme elements of the Tea Party.
“The climate has gotten so toxic in our political discourse, setting up for this kind of reaction for too long. It’s unfortunate to say that. I hate to say that,” Grijalva said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “If you’re an opponent, you’re a deadly enemy,” Grijalva said of the mindset among Arizona extremists. “Anybody who contributed to feeding this monster had better step back and realize they’re threatening our form of government.”
Grijalva said that Tea Party leader Sarah Palin should reflect on the rhetoric that she has employed. “She — as I mentioned, people contributing to this toxic climate — Ms. Palin needs to look at her own behavior”.