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Frum on What Palin Should Say

David Frum suggests: What Palin Needed to Say After Giffords’ Shooting.

I think he makes some excellent points. Palin actually has a political opportunity here to look presidential, and instead is engaging her usual defensiveness.

As such, Frum is right to note:

Palin failed to appreciate the question being posed to her. That question was not: “Are you culpable for the shooting?” The question was: “Having put this unfortunate image on the record, can you respond to the shooting in a way that demonstrates your larger humanity? And possibly also your potential to serve as leader of the entire nation?”

While I agree that it is unfair to assign any culpability to Palin for her target graphic, one would think that there are more productive ways for her and her camp to deal with this situation (and the “surveyor’s symbol” rationalization isn’t it nor is offering platitudes on Glenn Beck’s radio show).

This was a situation where Palin could have actually made a positive impression with people who do not like her, and yet she has not taken the opportunity. And I do not mean this is terms of simple political opportunism, but in terms of the simple fact that sometimes one is presented with a challenge to which one has a chance to rise.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. andrew says:

    It’s funny how Steven pretends that there’s anything that Palin could say that could appease the crazies on the Left, including himself. Intellectually dishonest to the max.

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  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Thanks Andrew. Well said. Why doesn’t the real President say something which needs to be said? Instead we have a sheriff on TV lying about the cause of all of this when in fact he may have culpabilitry in the affair. The I see it, it is all Bill Ayers fault.

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  3. ponce says:

    “It’s funny how Steven pretends that there’s anything that Palin could say that could appease the crazies on the Left”

    A recent poll shows Mitt Romney leading Sarah the Quitter by 26 points in New Hampshire.

    Forget the Left, Palin has to appease normal Republicans.

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  4. Wayne says:

    It once again it shows the hypocrisy out there. The DNC used Bull eyes on a similar map as Palin. Many of the left have used similar symbols and terminology. A West Virginia Senate candidate actually shots a rifle in one of his campaign commercials. That is what Palin should be saying since it would show once again the double standard and unfair attacks when it comes to her.

    Please don’t give me the left B.S. statement of “if she can’t handle the heat….”. Yes she can but if someone is unfairly treating others they should be condemn for it.

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  5. Gustopher says:

    A bullseye is not at all the same thing as the crosshairs of a gun sight, nor a surveyor’s instrument for that matter.

    It’s been annoying me that people keep making this false equivalency.

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  6. rodney dill says:

    A bullseye is not at all the same thing as the crosshairs of a gun sight,

    You’re right, they are different things, but they are equivalent in their potential for firearm vernacular and rhetoric. You’re splitting hairs, understandably, to make one sides rhetoric look less flamatory than anothers. Thus we have the problem on who gets to decide on what phraseology is allowable and which isn’t. Right it depends on which side you’re on. Now the actual words used by Palin or the Tea Party have have used more firearm related rhetoric, I haven’t tried to compare that, other than looking up some of Obama’s own firearm rhetoric.

    The Surveyor symbol thing was just weird. Palin’s people just should have stated that firearm vernacular is part of every day usage for much of the population, and then focused on denouncing the tragedy for what it was. The surveyor symbol can only be explained as an (unsuccessful) attempt to stave off the left attacks that they knew would come. She should’ve used daisies instead.of crosshairs, but then she’d be blamed that she wanted for tea party opponents to be ‘pushing up daisies.’

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  7. rodney dill says:

    Another note of interest I made in one of the other plethora of posts on the subject. Crosshairs, can be found in non-firearm related items, such as, range finders. So they also serve a non-violent purpose. Not that anyone was thinking ‘range finders’ when the crosshair map was put together, but then no one believes they were thinking the crosshairs represented people to shoot either.

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  8. Jay Dubbs says:

    Me thinks some posters doth protest too much. Although this guy turned out to be a loon, it is pretty clear that the rhetoric (primarily, but not exclusively) on the right has become more ominous and threatening. Crosshairs and Second Amendment options all suggest that non-peaceful options are on the table. The mere suggestion of this should be condemned.

    Instead of “reloading” some on the right should be thankful that they dodged a bullet (pun intended) and engage in some soul searching about the rhetoric.

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  9. Terrye says:

    Oh for heavens sakes, they use bulls eyes in a dart game. And the Democrats use the same imagery anyway. Why single Palin out?

    I don’t always agree with Sarah Palin, but I can not understand why she is even part of the story. She had nothing to do with any of this. You might as well blame violence on TV, the media or video games as politics. It is just silly.

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  10. Terrye says:

    Jay:

    How is it clear? What possible indication is there that rhetoric had anything to do with what this young man did? Talk about protesting too much, we have all these morons running around talking about how it is obvious or it is clear that there is a connection and yet none of them have been able to find an actual connection…so where is it?

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  11. There are no words in the English lexicon that would clean this up. The simple fact is there is nothing wrong with putting cross-hairs on states targeted for some type of campaigning or change. The graphic in no way implied killing or violence of any kind. It’s a metaphor. Cross-hairs on a person is a different story. There is no metaphor there, it is simply and directly implying violence. However, this is not the case with the Palin target graphic. This is all so ridiculous.

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  12. sam says:

    “The Surveyor symbol thing was just weird. Palin’s people just should have stated that firearm vernacular is part of every day usage for much of the population, and then focused on denouncing the tragedy for what it was.”

    If you’re proceeding from a bad conscience –deserved or not — the weirdness is understandable.

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  13. An Interested Party says:

    “Why single Palin out?”

    Because Palin singled Giffords out…

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  14. rodney dill says:

    If you’re proceeding from a bad conscience –deserved or not — the weirdness is understandable.

    a bad conscience is only one explanation, the rest of my comment .

    The surveyor symbol can only be explained as an (unsuccessful) attempt to stave off the left attacks that they knew would come.

    …that you chose not to quote presents another, more likely, IMO, scenario.

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  15. rodney dill says:

    …The mere suggestion of this should be condemned.

    Instead of “reloading” some on the right should be thankful that they dodged a bullet (pun intended)…

    Good job of “Do What I say, not what I do.”

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  16. Rock says:

    I think that all politicians sound simply extend their condolences to the victims in this tragedy and then STFU.Which I think that’s exactly what Palin did. Seems like most of the politicians commenting on this have diarrhea of the mouth. Along with a lot of talking heads who invent villains out of cheap cloth.

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  17. rodney dill says:

    “Why single Palin out?”

    Because Palin singled Giffords out…

    No one in their right mind thinks Palin singled out Giffords to be shot. Yet largely Palin is the one ‘targeted’ by the left on the subject of firearm related rhetoric, when there a many examples of other politicians on both sides doing the same thing.

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  18. Rock says:

    extend their condolences. ( I’m not awake yet )

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  19. Terrye says:

    ponce:

    Palin is well liked by rank and file Republicans…but that does not mean the majority want her to be the nominee, because many of them know that she has a bull’s eye on her…she is in the cross hairs of the left and they will lead a vicious campaign against her in an effort to defeat and destroy her.

    Oops, just look at that imagery.

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  20. rodney dill says:

    Terrye, I don’t know I think they’re going off half-cocked in their attacks.

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  21. Terrye says:

    James:

    Oh come on. We are supposed to believe that the cross hairs symbol implies violence plain and simple..please. I mean come on, Manchin, a Democrat actually used a gun and shot a copy of the health care bill in one of his commercials.

    Giffords was a blue dog who voted against Pelosi as leader. She complained about the partisan tone in Congress and yet when this happens, people on the left immediately tried to turn this into a partisan attack…and then they went after all sorts of people. It is just disgusting.

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  22. Terrye says:

    rodney:

    Well that is just to be expected. After all, they have been surrounded, their provisions are low and so it is time to use whatever tactics are at their disposal. A sort of scorched earth approach to politics.

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  23. rodney dill says:

    Their political trajectory is off the mark, and their timing is a case study of Ready, Fire, Aim

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  24. An Interested Party says:

    “No one in their right mind thinks Palin singled out Giffords to be shot.”

    Nor is anyone claiming that she did…

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  25. rodney dill says:

    No one in their right mind thinks Palin singled out Giffords to be shot.”

    Nor is anyone claiming that she did…

    Then there’s no reason, in the context of this tragedy, to state that Palin is being singled out because she singled out Gifford’s office as one that the Republicans (or tea party) could win. Unless you’re an ass and just want to use this as a Wellstonian opportunity for political gain.

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  26. Rock says:

    Need a good laugh this morning?

    The Underpants Gnomes’ Theory of the Arizona Shootings:

    As presented by port side demagogues . . .

    Phase 1: Sarah Palin publishes a map.
    Phase 2: ?
    Phase 3: Gunfire.

    http://www.chequerboard.org/2011/01/the-underpants-gnomes-theory-of-the-arizona-shootings/

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  27. Pug says:

    Yeah, Rock. Let’s all have a good laugh about the Arizona shootings.

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  28. Jay Dubbs says:

    Terrye – Please actually read what I said. I did not connect the action with rhetoric, but I did call for some retrospection.

    But let’s be frank, no one would be surprised if it had been connected. If you don’t believe that the language of 2010 was more threatening than in the recent past, you are in denial. And the Manchin ad was heavily criticized – by the left. The suggestion that voters will need to resort to bullets, if ballots don’t work needs to be soundly rejected by everyone, it can’t be used as a code phrase by politicians to show “hey we are really angry too.”

    I understand that some introspection may be too much to ask from Rodney, but I am hopeful that he is the outlier and not the mean.

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  29. I would point out that the point of the post was not to argue about the meaning of the target graphic, or even to deal with the wisdom of such symbolism. On balance, I share James’ view from the other day that such metaphors and symbols are commonplace. I further think it is unfair, as noted in the post, for Palin to be assigned blame.

    The question is, given the firestorm (fair or not): what is the right way for Palin to respond? As noted, I think she is missing an opportunity. No, I don’t think that this is a chance for her to make everyone (crazies or not, left or not) to love her. It should be obvious, however, that this is the kind of moment that someone who aspires to a leadership role needs to be about to deal with.

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  30. Franklin says:

    Obviously, Palin shouldn’t get any blame for the shooting. But to get defensive and come up with this surveyor’s symbol bullshit is such typical Palin. As a politician, she plays the victim and lies. I’m sure she’s a good mother and all that crap, but her public persona is indefensible.

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  31. davod says:

    “Obviously, Palin shouldn’t get any blame for the shooting. But to get defensive and come up with this surveyor’s symbol bullshit is such typical Palin.”

    The truth is no defence.

    What next , adopt UK llibel laws and drop truth as a defence.

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  32. davod says:

    One person’s platitudes are another person’s meaningfull comments.

    Get off the twisted logic commentary bandwagon and come up with some reasoned commentary. Of course, removing Frum from your reading list might be a good start.

    What evidence do you have that she didn’t mean what she said.

    Lawyers!

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  33. anjin-san says:

    > It should be obvious, however, that this is the kind of moment that someone who aspires to a leadership role needs to be about to deal with.

    Yes. Instead an aide tells a bald faced lie, and Palin and her supporters take the normal Palin victim mode into overdrive. We see a lot of this, but we never seem to see any actual leadership from Palin.

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  34. An Interested Party says:

    @rodney dill: I merely stated why she was being singled out, no more, no less…

    “The truth is no defence.”

    Except this new “truth” is not the truth at all…

    http://twitter.com/SarahPalinUSA/status/29677744457

    “Remember months ago ‘bullseye’ icon used 2 target the 20 Obamacare-lovin’ incumbent seats? We won 18 out of 20 (90% success rate;T’aint bad)”

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  35. Terrye says:

    Franklin:

    That made no sense at all.

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  36. Terrye says:

    Jay:

    Well I guess it depends on your perspective. I realize that to the left someone putting a picture of Bush up with a Snipers Wanted across the screen is no big deal along with all the Bushitler references…not nearly so horrid as Palin saying whatever Palin says about anything.

    In other words, I argue with your basic premise. I was a child when Kennedy was shot. I remember Martin Luther King being killed. I can tell you where I was when Robert Kennedy was killed by Sirhan Sirhan. I remember the 1969 Democratic Convention.

    The truth is the only reason the left thinks its worse is that they are being hoisted on their own petard and they don’t like it..when they are the ones dishing it out….they are just speaking truth to power.

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  37. rodney dill says:

    @rodney dill: I merely stated why she was being singled out, no more, no less…
    “The truth is no defence.”
    Except this new “truth” is not the truth at all…
    http://twitter.com/SarahPalinUSA/status/296…44457
    “Remember months ago ‘bullseye’ icon used 2 target the 20 Obamacare-lovin’ incumbent seats? We won 18 out of 20 (90% success rate;T’aint bad)”

    So its just political payback, unrelated to the tragedy in Arizona, only relying on the tragedy to facilitate to opportunity. I really do understand that motive. I just didn’t think I’d see anyone from the left (assuming you see yourself on the left) admit to it.

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  38. I would note that it is problematic to state “the left” or “the right” have said anything–and to continue talking like that is part of the problem (at least in terms of having a conversation) because it creates a competition and oversimplifies everything.

    Not everyone “on the left” nor “on the right” (which can be amorphous categories in any event) is saying anything. Specific individuals are saying things, to be sure.

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  39. Jay Dubbs says:

    Terrye – The is a difference between what some left wingers did (and were denounced for) and the continuing gun infused rhetoric from GOP candidates for office that we heard this past election cycle. People on the fringes will say crazy things, but when the mainstream doesn’t object to them, that’s when I have worries.

    The rhetoric you object to from the left hasn’t/didn’t become part of the Democratic message. (see that whole “hopey changey thing”) And I am not saying that the GOP campaigned for violence, but when their candidates crossed the line, there was silence.

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  40. mantis says:

    And I am not saying that the GOP campaigned for violence, but when their candidates crossed the line, there was silence.

    No, not silence. Encouragement.

    TPM has a good list of campaign events/ads/statements that use violent language and imagery to target their election opponents. These are elected officials or candidates and their campaigns (and not just Republican ones), not a blogger or some nut with a sign, mind you. Who thinks this sort of thing is ok?

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  41. Terrye says:

    Jay:

    Yes, it did become part of the Democratic rhetoric. How can people like you be so blind to the silly nonsense from your own side. Manchin used a gun in an ad, the man is not a Republican…and the idea that there was some concerted effort to use gun imagery on the part of the GOP is pure paranoia.

    I mean come on, back when Clinton got caught playing with Monica in the Oval Office…the first reaction from his wife was that it was all part of a vast right wing conspiracy…and of course she and others of her party were in a fight between good {her side} and bad {everyone else}.

    You are looking for something that is not there in the hopes that you can use this awful tragedy for political gain. It is disgusting.

    When Bush responded to an attack on our country by terrorists, we heard people on the left tell us not to generalize, not to look at it as anything other than a law enforcement issue, we were told that as President Bush was capitalizing on the attack to go kill people and steal oil…and now here we are years later listening to people like you try to turn the actions of a mentally disturbed young man into political fodder.

    Gag me.

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  42. Jay Dubbs says:

    Terrye – Manchin ad was used to attract conservative voters, and was loudly denounced by members of his own party. What I am hoping for is adult leadership in the GOP that would similarly denounce the Republican candidates who did this. And you do know how to differentiate between posters on the Daily Kos and actual leaders, right? Is there any language that you heard from the GOP this cycle that you think was over the top?

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  43. steve says:

    I read yesterday that the Palin crosshair map went up the day after Giffords’ office was hit by a gun (pellet gun?). Can anyone confirm this? If true, it suggests that the map should have been removed right away.

    Steve

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  44. sam says:

    “The surveyor symbol can only be explained as an (unsuccessful) attempt to stave off the left attacks that they knew would come.

    …that you chose not to quote presents another, more likely, IMO, scenario.”

    If I’m not mistaken, the “surveyor symbol” dodge came after some attacks, not before, no?

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  45. If I’m not mistaken, the “surveyor symbol” dodge came after some attacks, not before, no?

    The surveyor symbol bit was not just after some attacks, it emerged after the shooting on Saturday: click (which is why it is so absurd).

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  46. rodney dill says:

    If I’m not mistaken, the “surveyor symbol” dodge came after some attacks, not before, no?

    It may have, the logic is still the same, I think it was still an attempt to stave off attacks, rather than an “oops, I did something bad” admission. Still it was a bad ploy, she would’ve been better focusing on denouncing the violence rather than trying to defend her gun related figures of speech or symbols. The day the ‘Surveyor Symbol’ story came out I googled the topic and the only symbols I could find were big Square X’s, not even looking like bullseyes. Now all I see are Palin references and archery/shooting circular targets, so the story has muddied google. (at least for a quick search)

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  47. rodney dill says:

    If I’m not mistaken, the “surveyor symbol” dodge came after some attacks, not before, no?

    I think Sam and I agree it was after the shooting. I read attacks in Sam’s last post to mean “attacking” Palin verbally for her use of the bullseyes before the “surveyor symbol” version was made up. Looking back now, I can’t tell what he meant for sure.

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  48. sam says:

    What I meant was is desribed here:

    The news was barely out today when social networks were erupting, blaming Sarah Palin and the tea party for inciting the 22-year-old alleged gunman who shot U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat from Arizona, and 16 others in a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz. Giffords was one of those 20 moderate Republicans and Democrats that were on Palin’s now infamous “target list” that Palin compiled early last year. The graphic that went with the list features rifle scope-like cross hairs on certain legislative districts.

    Palinistas are furious over the accusations. … They blame the left using a tragedy to score political points. A Palin staffer, Rebecca Mansour told a radio talk show host Saturday that doing so is “obscene” and “appalling.” In fact, she said that the “target list” was not intended to allude to guns. [Source].

    Which implies that Mansour was responding to attacks already made.

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  49. rodney dill says:

    …and I don’t disagree with any of that Sam. Just the portion of your earlier statement concerning ‘bad conscience.’

    If you’re proceeding from a bad conscience –deserved or not — the weirdness is understandable.

    Trying to defer the attacks (whether already started or not) is motivation enough to explain the ‘dodge’ they tried, It doesn’t necessarily proceed from a bad conscience. I already agree that it wasn’t a very smart move.

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  50. Wayne says:

    Re “a bullseye is not at all the same thing as the crosshairs of a gun sight”

    Besides one using lines in a circle and one using a circle in a circle, what is the difference. Both are used in many applications outside of shooting including surveying and both are used extensively in shooting. Bullseye is probably used more often than crosshairs. Most all targets used a bullseye and many scopes used a small dot in the center of the circle which is a bullseye.

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  51. An Interested Party says:

    @rodney dill: Once again, you are confused…Terrye originally asked why Sarah Palin is being singled out…I simply answered why she was being singled out, because of the bullseye graphic that “targeted” Giffords…the latter part of my comment was pointing out the foolishness of the “surveyor symbol” explanation when Palin herself previously referred to the symbols as “bullseyes”…

    “…we were told that as President Bush was capitalizing on the attack…”

    Well he did, unless you actually believe he would have been able push the invasion of Iraq without 9/11 happening…

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  52. SweepItClean says:

    This kind of rhetoric just fuels the fires of insanity! People are blinded by their own ideology. We hold down one and then raise another. Discrimination & bloodshed stain both sides and all these reporters & politicians can do is keep planting Seeds of Hate? Let me tell you… this kind of negativity is reaping a GREAT harvest! This world is truly heading for mutiny, and those of us who want unity are caught in the crossfire! Governments & Ideology rise and fall, but in the end, We will most certainly meet fate together! ..

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  53. Terrye says:

    An Interested Party:

    Palin is not the only person who used that graphic and besides that there is no reason to believe that the killer gave a rat’s behind about that silly graphic or was even aware of it. You have invented that whole connection out of thin air.

    And as for Bush and Iraq…I was actually talking about Bush’s response to 9/11 and the fact that he did not consider it just a matter for law enforcement..I do not recall even mentioning Iraq…but the truth is that if Clinton had not pushed for and passed the Iraqi Liberation Act and if Democrats had not supported both the Iraqi Liberation Act and the invasion of Iraq then there would not have been an invasion.

    I realize that since you are on the left you are probably not really all that informed on the issue and so I will not bore you with a lot of talk about mandatory UN Resolutions and such? It won’t matter anyway, you don’t really care about the facts.

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  54. Terrye says:

    Jay:

    Yeah, right, go yell at Manchin. After all, he used a gun so he is sucking up to those bitter clingers out there.

    Speaking of adult, has anyone in the Democratic party ever evidenced any problem with some of Grayson’s hateful comments? Not that I know of.

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  55. STEVEM says:

    Stephen Taylors comments are simply laughable. He would do well to quit listening to Frum. The notion that Palin can say anything that will appease the irrational left is asinine to say the least . Asking her to give a political response is simply obtuse

    Palin has said what she needs to say with sincerity and personally I would be disappointed if she responded any further to the attacks against her

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  56. Jay Dubbs says:

    T – My point is that I am more than willing to stand up and say when my party has crossed the threshold of acceptable rhetoric, ala Manchin and Grayson. I would welcome any acknowledgment that maybe, perhaps, sometimes a GOPer might maybe get too close to that line as well.

    I won’t be holding my breath however.

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  57. Terrye says:

    Jay:

    Oh please. Fine, I am not a big fan of Tom Delay…now can we get back to the fact that Democrats are deliberately trying to exploit this tragedy for pure political gain without ever citing anything remotely resembling real evidence?

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  58. An Interested Party says:

    “Palin is not the only person who used that graphic and besides that there is no reason to believe that the killer gave a rat’s behind about that silly graphic or was even aware of it. You have invented that whole connection out of thin air.”

    Palin is the only person who used that graphic directed at Giffords…that’s the connection that people are making, hardly something invented out of thin air…

    “And as for Bush and Iraq…”

    My comments on that weren’t directed at you, but rather, at rodney dill…the fact of the matter is that Bush was able to use 9/11 to push for the invasion of Iraq…without 9/11, he never would have gotten that war…

    “It won’t matter anyway, you don’t really care about the facts.”

    Well, darling, you only seem to care about the facts when you can use them to trash “the left”…

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  59. mpw280 says:

    IP you are a liar pure and simple because your own KOZ used it for her as well. Just keep ignoring any liberal or dem that did or said anything similar because it can’t fit your narrative. mpw

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