Sarah Palin, Under the Gun

Sarah Palin, Under the Gun

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The day after Barack Obama won the White House, security and intelligence analysts reported that threats against the president-elect had soared during the final stretch of the campaign. The report left no doubt about who and what were to blame: GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her two months of nonstop inflammatory rhetoric. It wasn’t just the security services pointing the finger; Palin’s running mate, John McCain, disapproved of her rhetoric, too. McCain’s aides claimed that Palin’s remarks questioning Obama’s patriotism and even his American citizenship and painting him as a wild-eyed radical were not approved by McCain and did serious damage to the GOP candidate’s election chances.

Back in 2008, there wasn’t much doubt that Palin’s verbal assaults had fueled the increase in threats against the first serious black presidential candidate in U.S. history. There was little debate over whether incendiary political speech by a public figure with 24/7 access to TV and the media could have dire consequences, especially among lunatics with automatic guns. Yet now that the Tucson shootings prove just how dangerous rhetoric can be, the debate over the consequences of political speech suddenly rages as if there were any doubt at all. And even more strangely, the tables have turned.

Not only are Palin, through her aides and apologists, insisting that she bears no blame for the Tucson rampage that killed six and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords—they’ve gone further and say that the death threats against her have soared. The implication is that the irresponsible mainstream media, Democrats, and by extension the Obama administration, have put poor Sarah’s life at mortal risk by criticizing her gun-toting political metaphors and hit lists complete with crosshairs.

This argument is now being picked up by conservatives as “proof” that liberals and Democrats are hypocrites and liars. Why, the bloggers and talk-show gabbers demand, can Democrats hammer Palin as a virtual co-conspirator with alleged Tucson triggerman Jared Lougher, yet when Palin’s life is supposedly in danger, she’s not allowed to complain about their rhetoric?

It’s a twist that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Palin and ultra-conservatives have mastered the cynical trick of taunting liberals and progressives as whiny wusses whenever they complain about right-wing excesses, then quickly and shamelessly painting Palin as a victim of “liberal bias” anytime someone calls her out for her language and behavior. Now Palin and company are insisting that it’s time to drop the temperature on political attacks—against her. “Civility” has become the new watchword—but by civility they mean, Don’t say or do anything that might imply that Palin had any connection with the heinous actions of Loughner or any other deranged individual in the future

In his speech memorializing the Tucson victims, President Obama demonstrated what civility truly means. His remarks held not the slightest hint of partisanship or blame.

For more than two years, meanwhile, Palin & Co. have done everything they could to paint Obama as the virtual anti-Christ—and the threats against him continue to this day.

That’s the reality, however under the gun Palin may be feeling at the moment.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts national Capitol Hill broadcast radio talk show on KTYM Radio Los Angeles and WFAX Radio Washington D.C. streamed on and and internet TV broadcast on

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