Bil Browning

Palin responds to AZ shooting with video

Filed By Bil Browning | January 12, 2011 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Arizona, Gabrielle Giffords, Jared Lee Loughner, Palin video statement, Sarah Palin

When you're Sarah Palin, you issue statements via Facebook and Twitter. And when you've been blamed for targeting a Congresswoman for assassination by printing a graphic with crosshairs over her district, you make a nice video in your home studio with the American flag in the background and watch it go viral. Seriously... She doesn't give a shit; she's just out to defend her name and get her picture on the news.

Not only does she wrap herself in the mantle of victimhood, she blames the media and denies any responsibility whatsoever. Why is it so impossible for her to admit any bit of culpability and simply say, "Let's all tone it down" instead of "Nothing to see here, folks. Move along"?

Sarah Palin: "America's Enduring Strength" from Sarah Palin on Vimeo.

Transcript after the jump since the video is a little slow and jerky from so many people watching it.

Like millions of Americans I learned of the tragic events in Arizona on Saturday, and my heart broke for the innocent victims. No words can fill the hole left by the death of an innocent, but we do mourn for the victims' families as we express our sympathy.

I agree with the sentiments shared yesterday at the beautiful Catholic mass held in honor of the victims. The mass will hopefully help begin a healing process for the families touched by this tragedy and for our country.

Our exceptional nation, so vibrant with ideas and the passionate exchange and debate of ideas, is a light to the rest of the world. Congresswoman Giffords and her constituents were exercising their right to exchange ideas that day, to celebrate our Republic's core values and peacefully assemble to petition our government. It's inexcusable and incomprehensible why a single evil man took the lives of peaceful citizens that day.

There is a bittersweet irony that the strength of the American spirit shines brightest in times of tragedy. We saw that in Arizona. We saw the tenacity of those clinging to life, the compassion of those who kept the victims alive, and the heroism of those who overpowered a deranged gunman.

Like many, I've spent the past few days reflecting on what happened and praying for guidance. After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.

President Reagan said, "We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions." Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.

The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country's future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic.

Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don't like a person's vision for the country, you're free to debate that vision. If you don't like their ideas, you're free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those "calm days" when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren't designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders' genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure.

As I said while campaigning for others last March in Arizona during a very heated primary race, "We know violence isn't the answer. When we 'take up our arms', we're talking about our vote." Yes, our debates are full of passion, but we settle our political differences respectfully at the ballot box - as we did just two months ago, and as our Republic enables us to do again in the next election, and the next. That's who we are as Americans and how we were meant to be. Public discourse and debate isn't a sign of crisis, but of our enduring strength. It is part of why America is exceptional.

No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.

Just days before she was shot, Congresswoman Giffords read the First Amendment on the floor of the House. It was a beautiful moment and more than simply "symbolic," as some claim, to have the Constitution read by our Congress. I am confident she knew that reading our sacred charter of liberty was more than just "symbolic." But less than a week after Congresswoman Giffords reaffirmed our protected freedoms, another member of Congress announced that he would propose a law that would criminalize speech he found offensive.

It is in the hour when our values are challenged that we must remain resolved to protect those values. Recall how the events of 9-11 challenged our values and we had to fight the tendency to trade our freedoms for perceived security. And so it is today.

Let us honor those precious lives cut short in Tucson by praying for them and their families and by cherishing their memories. Let us pray for the full recovery of the wounded. And let us pray for our country. In times like this we need God's guidance and the peace He provides. We need strength to not let the random acts of a criminal turn us against ourselves, or weaken our solid foundation, or provide a pretext to stifle debate.

America must be stronger than the evil we saw displayed last week. We are better than the mindless finger-pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy. We will come out of this stronger and more united in our desire to peacefully engage in the great debates of our time, to respectfully embrace our differences in a positive manner, and to unite in the knowledge that, though our ideas may be different, we must all strive for a better future for our country. May God bless America.

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The worst part is her casual use of the term "blood libel," especially in light of the fact that Giffords is Jewish.

Kathy Padilla | January 12, 2011 4:01 PM

Pretty shabby that she decided to send this out on the day of the memorial too. Narcissist.

This is just strange:

"It was a beautiful moment and more than simply "symbolic," as some claim, to have the Constitution read by our Congress."

If it wasn't symbolic - then what was substantive about the reading? What action was taken by the House in connection with this. And - if "symbolic" is now a dirty word to be scare quoted - would cloying be more appropriate to describe her choice to have the flag in her video? Most people don't keep theirs near a fireplace - where it will get all sooty. Kinda disrespectful, an all.

I have to admit, I missed that part originally when I wrote the post; I didn't know the term.

Not to defend Palin by any means, but I'm assuming she didn't either. The speechwriter should be fired if that's the case.

My favorite part though? She always attacked Obama for his teleprompter but you can see her's in the reflection on her glasses.

I love the look of righteous indignation and outrage. And that she hits all her cultural references, including Reagan--I think watching vids of Palin's little rants would be a perfect drinking game!

And more seriously, her admit she was ever wrong about anything? She makes W. look like Woody Allen...

Why I find Sarah Palin's Response To Arizona Shootings' Aftermath Reprehensible

Its is not often that I find it necessary to set aside my press credentials and lend an opinion to public discourse on any given subject that I report on. However, that said, I need to comment not as an American which I am not, nor as a Canadian which I am, but rather as a human being and responsible adult living in a divisive and polarised society here in the United States.

Earlier today, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, issued a video statement in response to the tragic assassination attempt on the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, which resulted in Representative Giffords being critically injured, six persons left dead, including a nine year old child and a sitting federal judge, with 13 others seriously injured.

In the initial hours as law enforcement commenced their investigative work, the Sheriff of Pima County, Arizona, in a press briefing, made an impassioned statement regarding what the good sheriff felt was of a contributory circumstance to the shooter's actions- the elevated vitriolic rhetoric that has been seen, heard, and utilised in the American political process particularly over these past three years.

Commentators, reporters, and the public immediately took positions both pro and con on the sheriff's remarks, which by the way, he has consistently maintained accurately reflect his viewpoint through the course of the unfolding aftermath in Tucson.

During the coverage of this tragic event, myself, colleagues, and others in the blogosphere and media included a particular graphic, that had been employed in the campaign by the political action committee headed by former Governor Palin, advocating specific "targeting" of opposition congressional districts including Representative Giffords in the last election cycle. The graphic(s) were clearly depicting a series "gunsight crosshairs" superimposed over various congressional districts including Congresswoman Giffords' district. This was intentional on our part to illustrate in part Sheriff Clarence Dupnik's assertions.

Dupnik has been under relentless fire from conservatives since his impassioned and impromptu plea for an end to hateful and violent rhetoric. So much in fact, as ABCNews anchor Diane Sawyer reported last evening on World News Tonight, the Sheriff and conservative hard line radio pundit Rush Limbaugh have traded barbs.

Which brings me to today's Palin video, my colleagues at Politico reported:

Palin has faced criticism for images that look like gun crosshairs to identify the districts of Democrats who were vulnerable in the 2010 elections, that of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot on Saturday. Responsibility lies “not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election,” Palin said. Palin placed blame on the media.”[E]specially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn,” she said. “That is reprehensible.”

I want to highlight specifically the former governor's choice of using the term 'blood libel' when attempting to deflect responsibility for her own rhetoric and her critique of the media.

By using the term “blood libel” to describe the criticism about political rhetoric after the shootings, Ms. Palin was inventing a new definition for an emotionally laden phrase. Blood libel is typically used to describe the false accusation that Jews murder Christian children to use their blood in religious rituals, in particular the baking of matzos for passover. The term has been used for centuries as the pretext for anti-Semitism and violent pogroms against Jews.

Given that Congresswoman Giffords is Jewish, its absolutely reprehensible to 'coin' a term to use in a public statement such as that made by today by Sarah Palin.

Instead of taking ownership and accountability for the mere chance that the troubled and obviously mentally at risk shooter might have been influenced by such rhetoric, Palin, and in fact nearly all of the so-called conservative right have attempted to blame the poisonous atmosphere that surrounds the American political landscape on the opposition and those who decry such vitriol.

The New York Times reported this morning:
Ms. Palin was not the only one to respond to criticism Wednesday. Sharron Angle, the Tea Party-backed Republican who lost her Senate race against Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, also issued a statement defending herself against criticism.
“Expanding the context of the attack to blame and to infringe upon the people’s Constitutional liberties is both dangerous and ignorant,” she said in the statement, according to media reports. “The irresponsible assignment of blame to me, Sarah Palin or the Tea Party movement by commentators and elected officials puts all who gather to redress grievances in danger.”
Ms. Angle said during the campaign that voters could pursue “Second Amendment remedies” if the political process doesn't work for them. In the wake of the shooting, those remarks have been criticized anew.

But Ms. Angle said in her statement Wednesday that: “Finger-pointing towards political figures is an audience-rating game and contradicts the facts as they are known – that the shooter was obsessed with his twisted plans long before the Tea Party movement began.”

I see this as a massive effort to minimise the reality of this entire tragic event which no rational thinking individual cannot but help wonder what may have influenced the shooter's decision, contributing to his apparent twisted mental state.

Palin offered this:

“We will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults,” she said.

When it is acceptable to put gun sights on a political opponent in campaign literature, to encourage 2nd Amendment "solutions" and wanting your supporters to be "armed and dangerous?" This is definitely NOT nonviolent rhetoric, and this in no way "condems" violence.

I thought about embedding the former governor's video recorded remarks and decided that I am not going to be a party to further enabling her to spread a message that contains such a vile use of that term, attempting to redefine blood libel, in her efforts to be a ministrant to her core audience and followers and justify without holding herself accountable in a continuation of irresponsible political rhetoric.

I find that conduct reprehensible.

Thank you for providing criticism, her response was horrific and needs to be addressed.

Sierra Bellum | January 12, 2011 5:27 PM

Not to distract but to add to the conversation:

In 2008, a man who was being partially supported by the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church walked into the main hall during a children's production of Annie with a shotgun and a guitar case full of ammo.

He apparently feared the effects the church's liberal/progressive social positions/actions would have on his nation.

When his residence was later searched, multiple conservative political books of the "exposing the liberal war to destroy America" sort were found.

One of the individuals who was not only a hero that day but (for lack of a better word) a martyr was, according the phrasing of some reports, both a gay man and the adopted father of a transgender child. He apparently chose to place himself in front of the barrel of the shotgun to not only try to disarm the attacker but in a conscious effort to ensure it was himself rather than others who faced the dangers of being shot.

The Church has a long running presence in the adult and teenage LGBT local community.

At the time, and now, I felt this incident received very little press. And nearly no serious discussion about how an individual could become convinced that shooting up a church during a play was the way to protect real America.

I am not trying to inhibit free speech, but other incidents like this can be documented. Not only would I be happy to defend other's rights to free speech, but I know first hand that the membership of that church would as well. I however do believe that those who claim to be capable of being national political figures ought to be capable of sensing when political rhetoric is crossing the line from whipping up the base to quite possibly instigating (lethal) problems.

Political gamesmanship over decisions affecting the ability of others to live is bad enough. I do believe it's well past time for those who wish to be politcal leaders to demand of themselves the bravery to hold themselves to the high ethical standards that most of them (and us) say they respect in their heroes.

I don't believe that anyone in Palin's camp was purposefully inciting violence by placing what seems, to me at least, to be nothing other than sniper targeting reticules on a map, but I also believe that people (political workers in particular) ought to be aware of the potential dangers in such symbolism. Such actions are not the way to demonstrate to me that you have the wisdom to be a national leader.

In this or any other circumstance, I believe the inability to see an incident as anything other than an attack against you suggests a level of insulated solipsism which should never exist in a person allowed to be in postion of power over another human being, from business to religion to politics to healthcare or education. That's my frank opinion.

I know the day of the attack on that church I added a name (actually more than one) to my personal list of heroes, and it wasn't Bill O'Reilly, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, or Glenn Beck.

The right wingers are so crafty with their rhetoric -- if the left had any rhetorical craft of their own, we would be countering "the liberal war to destroy America" with "the conservative war to undermine the US Constitution" ... because that is exactly what fundamentalist Christian theocrats, such as Sarah Palin (plus many, many other famous evangelical and pseudo-evangelical figures), are trying to do.

Okay, first of all: When Sarah Palin says that people immediately started blaming her for this, without getting all the facts... She is RIGHT. No matter how you feel about Sarah Palin, we HAVE to admit when she says something that's true. And this was absolutely true. Without knowing ANY of the facts about what happened, people immediately jumped at the chance to blame her. She's 100% right about that.

Having said that, she or someone on her staff must have felt at least a little responsible because I understand they took down their website with the map and crosshairs within hours after the shooting. I would love to see her explanation for that.

I agree - people did jump on her without knowing anything about what happened. There's still no direct connection between her map and what happened, nor is there any proof that Loughner ever saw that map, but we're still seeing liberals pretend like Loughner was taking marching orders from Alaska.

Do you know what's wrong with the way we are reacting to all of this? We are not talking about what our personal responsibility is. What are each of us doing to make things better? What actions are we taking to make a better world? At some point each of us must look ourselves in the mirror and see that we are responsible. If we sit on our hands and feel powerless while we pontificate in forums like this, we are equally to blame with the Palins of the world.

Please - get active in social movements! Peoples lives really do depend on it - and yours is one of them.

beachcomberT | January 13, 2011 6:47 AM

I'm no fan of Sarah Palin, and her speechwriter probably should be fired for throwing in the blood-libel phrase. But, really, let's stop the speculation about who or what motivated this kid. It will all come out in the trial. In a free society there will always be a certain percentage who display bulls-eyes, nooses, swastikas and other hate symbols to draw attention. We have a hate-crime law on the books (any prosecutions yet?), plus the older laws against extortion, assault, harassment, etc. If the Justice Dept. thinks it has a case against Palin (or Limbaugh or others), let them convene a grand jury and hand up indictments. But I think the constitutional law professor in the White House would caution against such efforts to enforce political correctness.

"Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. "They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election."

Really? What is the role and influence of society then? If this is true then why are the parents of Jared Loughner being brutalized by the media and the slew of common citizens asking why they didn't do something to prevent this? Asking the same questions of the community college that kicked him out. Asking the same questions of the people who sold him weapons.? What is society's responsibility here? And if we have none, then what purpose do we serve?

And not to stir up a turd but I find it obnoxious as hell that Palin and folks like her are happy as clams about defending First Amendment rights in this way, only when it suits their cause. She'll happily tread on a gay teacher's first amendment rights to be open and honest in her classroom because that might "cause gayness." To follow her own logic above, that's just as unfounded. Unless the teacher is being irresponsible or abusive in their exercise of this freedom--Like Sara Palin with her cross hairs and her anachronistic jingoism and cultural ignorance. I haven't been so angry about something in a really long time.

I'm not trying to suggest that blaming anyone specifically for this tragedy is in anyway meaningful or fair or right. It isn't. Nothing about what happened in Arizona is fair or right. But wouldn't it have been refreshing if some of the more outspoken and divisive folks in this dialogue had simply stepped up and said something positive about what they themselves are going to do to address mental illness issues, support families struggling with it, keep discourse respectful, or any other number of positive responses that might have actually made people feel better.


I think Keith Obermann on MSNBC did just what you suggest at theend of your post. I liked his comment on this topic.