Though few admit it, Sarah Palin has shaken up both parties. Character and ideas have consequences. It has not been lost on the political professionals that, after two years of observation, the American people show a greater affinity to the constitutional attitude of the hockey mom than to that of the "constitutional scholar.''
Political professionals never rest, and the worst of them never let a crisis go to waste. That is why a tragic, but local, event that men of integrity would have faced with dutiful strength and perspective has instead been whipped into a national spectacle of character assassination and cheap self-advertisement.
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The shooting in Arizona was indeed a tragic event--the loss of life and the injury--all perpetrated solely by a madman who had no particular political party leanings. The actions of the media during the aftermath of the shooting proved to be saddening on a different level. However, in this week following the shooting, the true character of many has been illuminated. For the media, the pundits, and the Left (yes, perhaps I'm being redundant), their reporting during the week following the shooting showed a continued reporting not based upon facts, but based upon a political agenda. This, of course, is nothing new, but that does not make it any more excusable. With any tragedy, emotions run high, and people seek to apportion blame. Blame can only be attributed when facts are known. However,as the fact became known and a character sketch of the shooter yielded not even a tangential connection to Governor Palin, blame was still wrongly placed upon her. When Governor Palin make a articulate, heart felt statement, they criticized her use of the phrase "blood libel", ignoring the numerous times they themselves had attributed that phrase to the falsely accused. They criticized the timing of her video posting, as if it were akin to the opposing party giving their response before the President gives a State of the Union address. Whatever Governor Palin had done, it would have been wrong. Had she not said anything, she would have been wrong. When she did respond, she was accused of inserting politics into the Arizona shooting story, even after the media complained she hadn't responded to the tragedy yet. Had she spoken after President Obama's memorial rally speech, she would have been criticized for trying to take the spotlight from the President's address. She chose to share a message earlier in the day, and she was criticized. This past week has continued to reveal the media has a purveyor of a political agenda, rather than a source of unbiased news.
The Left's character, or lack thereof, also was illuminated. Last Sunday, Senator Dick Durbin accused Governor Palin of using "toxic rhetoric" while ignoring his own past usage of toxic rhetoric, including comparing American soldiers to Nazis. For the Left supposedly being the ideology that best supports women, Congressman James Clyburn called Governor Palin attractive, only to state she was intellectually incapable of understanding what happened in Arizona. Yesterday, J. Eric Fuller was arrested for issuing a death threat against a Tea Party leader in Arizona. Fuller, one of the victims of the Arizona shooting and a supporter of Congresswoman Giffords, blamed the shooting on the rhetoric of Governor Palin, Glenn Beck, and others, only to later be arrested for verbally threatening someone else. While no one should have to face the emotional and physical trauma of being shot, this is not an excuse for engaging in the same type of behavior that one speculates that caused the shooting. These men certainly did not heed the call for civility that their friends in the media proposed, nor did they use words that heal instead of wound that their Democratic counterpart President Obama called for later in the week.
Character is not only revealed in words; it is also revealed in the silence. Despite the character assassination attempt on Governor Palin, outside of Talk Radio and the blogosphere, Republicans and conservatives stayed relatively quiet in their defense. Those who did speak did not do so in pure defense of a party counterpart who had been severely attacked. Governor Pawlenty stated he felt Governor Palin was being wrongly accused, but offered caveats to his support of her campaign messaging. Governor Christie criticized Governor Palin's "scripted" response, rather than supporting and defending her against baseless allegations. This event and the fallout showed that the character of these men was more concerned with their political expediency rather than doing what was right.
The past week has also shown that Governor Palin's character is principled and consistent. The past few years of Governor Palin's life has yielded a steady stream of challenge and adversity. On a personal level, she faced an unexpected pregnancy knowing that the child would be born with Down Syndrome. Her teenager daughter also was faced with an unexpected pregnancy. Her oldest child was sent to face the dangers of war in Iraq. Politically, she was placed on the national stage as a vice presidential candidate only to face a media in the tank for her political opponent and to work with campaign staffers who were more concerned with their next campaign job and own personal agendas than they were with supporting her as their candidate. She faced a barrage of baseless ethics complaints following her return from the campaign trail aimed at derailing her political career. Almost immediately following her return, her church was burned in a case of arson. Over these past more than two years, she has faced unfounded criticism and attacks from the press, Democrats, and some Republicans who have questioned her intelligence, her motives, and her integrity. During this past week with the media attack reaching new levels of vileness and falsehoods, Governor Palin has received an unprecedented level of death threats, which sheds further light on the lack of character of those who oppose her politically. What has been Governor Palin's response to all of this? A consistent display of strong character. When others falsely accused her and millions of Americans to being accessories to murder,Governor Palin condemned the spread of false accusations, but praised and encouraged 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.
For Governor Palin, those are not just empty words, they are how she lives her life. Her response was one of grief for the victims, prayers for those affected, and an embrace for the fundamental freedoms that are America's greatest strength. This is character. While others are choosing silence when someone is being unfairly criticized, Governor Palin has chosen to defend such people, including defending both Laura Schlessinger and Juan Williams, both of whom have had harsh words for her in the past. She has embraced differences in a positive manner, as she spoke of last week. In a world where ideological agendas trump truth, double standards are the norms, and integrity is sacrificed for the sake of political expediency, Governor Palin's character shines brightly.
Crossposted here and here.