Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gilding the Skunk

Now, there's a tortured metaphor — gilding the skunk, but stick with it a bit. Last evening's WOW, POW, EXCLUSIVE Sean Hannity/Sarah Palin victim fest fooled only themselves and the already deluded.

Just when it might be safe to deal in ideas instead of brushing off self-promoters, Sarah Palin screams out her melodrama yet again. It may be unfair to true conservatives and brighter right-wingers, but it is great that she so highlights the extremes and, well, plain Palin stupidity.

The pair's blathering is significant only as evidence of the vast difference between self-identified political sorts. As noted many times here and at Harrumph!, left and right wingers do often bifurcate. Most liberal/progressive sorts typically wring their hands questioning, questioning. Do what they say and do negatively affect the larger world?

Stereotypical right-wing pols and talk-show sorts don't bother. Instead, the Palin and Hannity types assume their own virtue and correctness. They try to build themselves by knocking others down — reason and evidence be damned!

The not-all-that-complex set of issues following the Tucson shootings clarifies the positions. With efforts that might have been applied to something constructive, this group has instead:
  • Sought to turn attention to themselves and away from those shot and even President Obama's memorial service eulogy
  • Repeatedly and with great strain claimed victimhood for themselves
  • Avoided any analysis of or responsibility for years of incendiary speech and writing
  • Feigned that calling for violence even metaphorically is not only their Constitutional right but their patriotic duty
In a milquetoast counterpoint, numerous lefties, like commentator Keith Olbermann combined his analysis. He called out righties who have long used gun, death and other threatening lingo, and simultaneously noted some of his own loose talk. He apologized for his.

We'll be waiting a long, long time for right wingers to hold themselves accountable. Instead what we have heard is another fictional meme. The loudest of them sifted and filtered the many thousands of comments about the Tucson events to present a charade. As they would have it, every lefty from Obama to media commentators to bloggers to Democratic pols has falsely accused their righty counterparts with causing Jared Loughner to shoot 20 people. Hence, the Palins and Limbaughs would have it, they are the true victims of the dreadful occurrences.

Palin's trio of clips is worth a click. Actually, as usual, she only has a couple of ideas and is so repetitive that you can choose any one and get her whole rap — lamestream media, First Amendment, patriotic duty and such.

The reality of the post-Tucson blather is that the left wing types asked the questions about whether years of superheated hyperbole, exaggerations and outright lies might inspire violence. Instead, the shtick is that if lefties can even ask those questions, they as a group are guilty of accusing the righties of being accessories to the Tucson and other murders. In fact, Palin said that the lefties had accused the entire state of Arizona as well as just her class of blowhards.

The closest we actually come to that is the scary, well documented descriptions of dozens of combo First/Second Amendment destruction, assaults, murders and more in the name of insurrection compiled by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. It is a serious caution to anyone who buys that other current winger meme, that the left wing is just as bad as the worst of the right one. T'aint so.

We should though parse Palin more than she normally deserves. She has coalesced the current positions of her phalanx. Her clips are a clear warning of the slogans and postures we are apt to hear for the next several months.

In case you don't have the stomach for all her clips, be aware that she goes beyond the predictable bizarre defensiveness into commentary on Obama's eulogy. She damned the brilliant healing speech that even Congressional Republicans respect with the faint praise that there were a few good things in it. Instead, she flat out said it sounded like a campaign speech. It's hard to tell where inattentive stupidity ends with that remark and where pure jealousy overtakes it.

Instead of dealing with the bigger issues and the widespread call for more civil dialog:
  • Palin claimed that the left as a whole was after her "to destroy the message and the messenger."
  • She dared to invoke Martin Luther King Jr. quoting his that a lie can't live to support her allegation that any link from hot talk to hot lead is that now infamous blood libel she claim on herself.
  • She depicts her repeated calls to violence and insurrection as both respectful and patriotic in petitioning the government for change.
  • Palin takes her bluster and threats as more than her right — "They can't make us sit down and shut up. And if they ever were to succeed in doing that, then our republic will be destroyed"
Her incredible positions are plain enough and worthy of remark only as new archetypes. They are the messages that will repeat many times soon.

Advance Despite Her

She has no more shame than her other TV talking heads and winger bloggers. They eagerly would eclipse the honor and innocence of those shot in Tucson and those who responded to them. Fortunately the President's remarks and those of others at the memorial service focused on the victims and heroes, the real ones.

Also fortunately, even many in Congress are savvier, more civilized and more compassionate than the basest of the right wing. We shall see soon as the House's health-reform repeal debate attempts to gain re-election votes in this quixotic effort. It appears as though those who continue to scream and call for revolution following the national discourse on violent speech are at last temporarily marginalized.

As we all (except for the rightest of the right) saw in the last Presidential election, Palin can ride the waves of national discontent, but on matters fundamental, she has no sense how out of touch with real people she is. The nation will have to advance without and despite her and the Limbaugh types.

We can be sure in later years that the bitterness, lies and overthrow-America talk will pale to invisibility, likely along with our economic troubles. We can be as sure that those who currently steal the honor due the real heroes and victims will find ways to claim they were with the program of building and healing all along.

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