• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

The Palin “Target” Graphic

Several people (on Twitter and in various comments here at OTB) have mentioned a graphic associated with Sarah Palin’s PAC that had Gabriel Giffords’ district in the crosshairs. While it has been taken down from the website, here it is for posterity’s sake. You can draw your own conclusions:

UPDATE (James Joyner): See “Palin ‘Target’ Graphic in Perspective” for historical context and further discussion.

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. The problem is that people are going to blame Palin for all of this, but the statement is simply a metaphor that anyone with any reasonable intelligence could figure out. That doesn’t change the fact that Sarah Palin is a moron who should never be in a position of leadership ever again for as long as she lives. But we cannot attack the first amendment just because one person might* have taken her statements literally.

    * So far, indications are showing that this person was just a Fruit Loop who has some pretty anarchist views. So this might have absolutely nothing to do with Palin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Axel Edgren says:

    Right-wingers are already searching for a left-wing example of equally insensitive or at least arguably dangerous messaging.

    I dunno if they’ll find something like that, or if the example they find is comparable to a GOP VP nominee posting an image like that. I’m not that kind of sleuth, because I am not an utterly sad and lifeless person.

    If they do find it, then that will be an important reminder that there are a lot of people that needs to count to ten, on a very deep level.

    Once again, we don’t now enough about the shooter. Steven Taylor has already said that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Tim says:

    Agreed; let’s not attack the 1st Amendment. Nevertheless, we should say that such rhetoric, visual or otherwise, is irresponsible and that public figures who want to be taken as serious, mature, reasonable adults should avoid resorting to it. Such admonishments are completely appropriate. Dave Wiegel @slate put it well in writing that this event ought to make people across the political spectrum “…think about how lightly [they] took the possibility of…tragedy” when doing so. Just because one can say just about anything to score political points, doesn’t mean one should. We need to hold our political and thought leaders accountable for irresponsible speech – no legal sanctions – by voting with our feet or tuning them out when they engage in such cheap, potentially harmful rhetoric.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Axel touched on something: both sides – not just righties – are searching for something that links the other side to this. I saw one woman on Twitter – who RT’d something I said, which makes me feel dirty – who attacked because someone that went to school with this guy said he was pretty left wing in college in 2007. The implication was clear: “HA! He’s a lefty! HAHA! On you, liberal tossers!” And the lefties are doing the same thing.

    The fact that either side is looking for something to pin on the other side is pathetic. What the hell is wrong with us as a collective?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. PD Shaw says:

    I’m not suggesting my opponent is a wife beater, I’m just putting out some facts from which one can draw one’s own conclusions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. @ Axel- The reason why “right wingers” are on defensive here is because so many “left wingers” are quick to blame Palin, the Tea Party, anyone who fights for the 2nd Amendment, or any conservative-leaning person or organization for this shooting. We’re not hearing about the shooter as much as we’re hearing “it this the Tea Party’s fault?” Conservatives are being put on defense…granted, it’s partially for a graphic on a website that was in very bad taste. But…that graphic was meant for the November elections…not for some nutcase to take literally and use it as a means to shoot legislators they don’t agree with.

    @ Christopher- The “collective” in this case doesn’t exist, unfortunately. A Democrat was shot, and a Republican’s being blamed because of a graphic on a website. If this were the other way around, I’m thinking there would be people on both sides of the political fence doing exacly the opposite of what they’re doing now (i.e., Republicans blaming democrat supporters, and Democrats on defense). As Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley once said in a press conference, “There are no sacred cows in politics.” Sad, but true.

    Like another poster said, most likely this shooter was a “fruit loop” with a few screws loose in his head. We’re not hearing a lot about him because as of now, it’s not fashionable to put the blame on the shooter. It’s fashionable to blame people like Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party, and anyone who publicly calls themself a “conservative”. It won’t be until after this partisan rhetoric is gone, and Rep. Giffords is either well or dead that this talk will stop…and it really won’t stop…just silenced temporarily.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. anjin-san says:

    > It’s fashionable to blame people like Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party, and anyone who publicly calls themself a “conservative”.

    Patent nonsense. I don’t have any problem with someone who is a conservative, publicly identified or not. Please don’t hide behind this smokescreeen. Personally, I just want people with a leadership role, left and right, to be aware that they can be powerful influencers and that they have responsibilities as public figures and political leaders that they can not simply walk away from.

    If someone is a national figure, they have to know about unintended consequences. Using violent imagery or rhetoric can have a powerful effect on an unstable person. Is that the case in today’s tragedy? I have no idea, we don’t know enough yet.

    But I do have to say, as someone who has a relative with profound mental heath issues, is that when I watch Glenn Beck I catch myself thinking that they have to know that a lot of their conspiracy nonsense is going to feed right into the delusional thinking of people who are unstable. There is no way the producers of the show don’t know this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Michael says:

    but the statement is simply a metaphor that anyone with any reasonable intelligence could figure out.

    Right, violent rhetoric and metaphors are okay, because only a total fruit loop would possibly think they were a serious call to shoot someone.

    Oh wait…

    So far, indications are showing that this person was just a Fruit Loop who has some pretty anarchist views.

    When you tell a crazy person to do something peaceful, but you do it using a violent metaphor that he takes literally, the fact that he was crazy doesn’t absolve you of all responsibility.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Michael says:

    But…that graphic was meant for the November elections…not for some nutcase to take literally and use it as a means to shoot legislators they don’t agree with.

    Yeah, who could have predicted that there might be a nutcase among the millions of people in that graphic’s intended audience.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. An Interested Party says:

    Gifford herself drew some conclusions…

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/08/gabrielle-giffords-shot-c_n_806211.html

    “‘For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action,’ Giffords said in an interview with MSNBC.”

    From the same link, the local sheriff had this to say…

    “The sheriff blamed the vitriolic political rhetoric that has consumed the country, much of it centered in Arizona.

    ‘When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,’ he said. ‘And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.'”

    Hmm, will he now be painted as some evil lefty using this tragedy to pursue his own political agenda?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Axel Edgren says:

    Even if the shooter is more unaligned, random and unpredictable than most, that still doesn’t exonerate the anti-Obama excesses and fear-mongering. Said nutcases are EXACTLY the kinds you should consider when choosing just how scary your opponent should be smeared as, no?

    Also, any tosser trying to equate the right with the left in terms of people killed through political violence can go chew gravel. Off the top of my head, the only terrorist organization in the US that has successfully managed to get its aims brought to bear are the anti-abortionist fire-bombers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Jay Tea says:

    Right-wingers are already searching for a left-wing example of equally insensitive or at least arguably dangerous messaging.

    Damned straight. And speaking strictly for myself, it’s because while I don’t play that game, I’m going to make sure those that do play it fairly.

    If that means bringing up the Kos diarist with a history of gun violence and a constituent of Giffords who, just days ago, pronounced Giffords “dead to him,” then so be it.

    If that means bringing up Kos himself talking about “targeting” her and “putting her on the bullseye,” so be it.

    And if that means bringing up the census worker who hanged himself in the woods, leading to many on the left to say “send the body to Glenn Beck,” so be it.

    Your game, your rules, Axel. At least have the integrity to include examples that break your prejudices.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. […] Steven Taylor has already posted on the now-infamous Palin “Target” Graphic, in which the  Gabriel Gifford’s congressional district was depicted in crosshairs of “20 House Democrats from districts we carried in 2008 voted for the health care bill” and proclaiming with “IT’S TIME TO TAKE A STAND.” […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Jay Tea says:

    Also, any tosser trying to equate the right with the left in terms of people killed through political violence can go chew gravel. Off the top of my head, the only terrorist organization in the US that has successfully managed to get its aims brought to bear are the anti-abortionist fire-bombers.

    Abortion is still legal.

    On the flip side, the Weather Underground and their ilk helped end the Viet Nam War.

    The ecological monkey-wrenchers applauded Obama’s stances on offshore drilling and cap & trade.

    The Klan held back civil rights for almost a century.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. An Interested Party says:

    “The Klan held back civil rights for almost a century.”

    Indeed they did…they are the worst domestic terrorist group this country has ever had…good luck trying to tie them to “the left” though….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. anjin-san says:

    > And speaking strictly for myself, it’s because while I don’t play that game, I’m going to make sure those that do play it fairly.

    In other words, you do play that game, but you are going to wrap yourself in a cloak of moral superiority that you have not actually earned. While you are at it, why don’t you finish telling us how Obama went back in time and forced GM to build the Volt?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Jay Tea says:

    anjin, I’d be delighted to explain it to you, but you’d have to grasp the difference between concept models and production models — and how few concept vehicles ever make out of the realm of fantasy.

    OK, fine.

    The Volt is a good concept vehicle, but it was nowhere near ready for production. GM’s new owners — the feds — wanted an “electric vehicle,” so they made it clear that they wanted that concept vehicle in the showrooms. That’s why the Volt is a demonstrably inferior vehicle to the Nissan Leaf, whose designers took the time to get it better before going into production.

    Note that the Volt is heavily subsidized by federal dollars (that’s GM’s owners paying us to buy a GM product) and is still considerably more expensive than the Leaf.

    Maybe the Volt would have been ready to go head-to-head with the Leaf, if given a few more years of development. Maybe they would have discovered it was a dead end. We’ll never know, because it was shoved out the door. And that gave the Obama administration something to brag about, some kind of good result of their taking over GM.

    We’ll never know.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. anjin-san says:

    > but you’d have to grasp the difference between concept models and production models

    And you would have to be informed.

    From Wikipedia – The production design model, first revealed to the public on September 16, 2008 (before Obama’s election)

    And Endgadget – Jun 26, 2009 … And with that, the first bona fide pre-production Chevy Volt — its own parts and all — has hit the pavement. General Motor’s storied EV.

    The jump from concept car to working production model had been made before Obama’s election. But by all means, keep digging. Looking foolish has never stopped you before.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. anjin-san says:

    > That’s why the Volt is a demonstrably inferior vehicle to the Nissan Leaf,

    By all means, demonstrate. When I saw the Leaf at the international auto show a while back, the pitchman was explaining how it gave you a verbal warning before the engine dies due to a dead battery, thus giving you time to get out of the flow of traffic before you Leaf stops moving. Hardly inspiring…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Axel Edgren says:

    “Abortion is still legal.”

    Yeah, but the number of abortionists have decreased rapidly, which is what the terrorists wanted (because they couldn’t get it outlawed the democratic way).

    JT, your inanity and thoughtlessness is stunning. Is there a single book you’ve read or a single human you’ve been influenced by that isn’t depressing and mediocre?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. Max Lybbert says:

    Because, clearly, Palin put the graphic on her site for violent means; not because “in the crosshairs” is a political term (like, say, the old show “Crossfire”).

    In a related note, I noticed the Professor used the obviously violent term “on the attack” on his own website ( http://www.poliblogger.com/?p=19554 ). I think we should all draw the most violent conclusions possible.

    ***

    As a bit of advice, if the Democratic Party wants a better election in 2012 than they had in 2010, they will need to convince people who voted Republican in 2010 to vote Democratic in 2012. In 2010 they tried a game of McCarthyism; this childish and petty game of guilt by association (“you don’t like how the Federal Reserve has been encouraging inflation -> you must want a return of the gold standard -> you must want to kill Democratic politicians”) won’t be any more successful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Max Lybbert says:

    Professor Taylor has repeatedly said that he opposes the current “Drug War.” If the shooter also opposes the Drug War does that tell us anything useful about Professor Taylor? If the shooter opposes the war in Afghanistan or the holding of prisoners in Guantanamo, does that tell us anything useful about President Obama? Why, then, is the shooter some weird political football when he supports or opposes some political beliefs and not others?

    Josef Stalin supported government run education. Should this kind of guilt by remote association be enough to shutter all public schools in the US?

    Why do people play these strange, childish, petty games? Is there any chance that politics will ever return to being something respectable instead of the global laughingstock it is today?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. An Interested Party says:

    “As a bit of advice, if the Democratic Party wants a better election in 2012 than they had in 2010, they will need to convince people who voted Republican in 2010 to vote Democratic in 2012. In 2010 they tried a game of McCarthyism; this childish and petty game of guilt by association (‘you don’t like how the Federal Reserve has been encouraging inflation -> you must want a return of the gold standard -> you must want to kill Democratic politicians’) won’t be any more successful.”

    It is highly doubtful that they would take advice from someone who is spinning lurid fantasies about what they supposedly did in the past and are supposedly doing now…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Max Lybbert says:

    “It is highly doubtful that they would take advice from someone who is spinning lurid fantasies about what they supposedly did in the past …”

    The “make unsubstantiated claims against the Chamber of Commerce, hoping for a political witch hunt” bit (1) didn’t go that well ( http://factcheck.org/2010/10/foreign-money-really/ ) and (2) was straight out of McCarthy’s playbook. Take another look at financial reform, efforts to hush up the pushback against the health care overhaul, and the general guilt by remote association tactics from 2010 and tell me with a straight face that McCarthy’s political strategies aren’t alive and well in the Democratic Party today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. An Interested Party says:

    The last election was determined more by the bad state of the economy than by whatever particular meme the Democrats were peddling…that being said, that particular argument that they were making, which you are criticizing, was indeed foolish and nonproductive…but if we are going to attach the McCarthyism label to things, I guess we can also attach it to attempts by Republicans to paint the president as some great friend of William Ayers, or the way the GOP has tried to paint the president as a “socialist” or how HCR was portrayed as a “government-takeover” and on and on and on…I guess we are all McCarthyites now…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. […] 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 […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0