Two problems with that. First, it's almost impossible to believe that they weren't intended as cross hairs. Mansour helps neither Palin nor the country by claiming otherwise. Second, "disgusting"? She may think that, but playing the victim when the only victims were in Tucson is, again, poor form. Palin must find a way to adjust her public posture. She can acknowledge the reality of an unfortunate situation -- the correlation between recent events and her frontier rhetoric and choice of graphics -- without taking any personal responsibility. If she doesn't, I don't see how she avoids becoming a marginal figure in U.S. politics.
“I don’t understand how anybody can be held responsible for somebody who is completely mentally unstable like this,” an adviser to Ms. Palin, Rebecca Mansour, said in an interview with a conservative radio host, Tammy Bruce. Responding to accusatory messages on the Web, Ms. Mansour added: “People actually accuse Governor Palin of this. It’s appalling — appalling. I can’t actually express how disgusting that is.”Ms. Mansour said that the cross hairs, in fact, were not meant to be an allusion to guns, and agreed with her interviewer’s reference to them as “surveyors symbols.”
Meanwhile, at the White House:
Mr. Obama was considering delivering a speech about the greater context surrounding the shooting, but advisers said it was premature to do so until Ms. Giffords’s condition stabilized and more became known about the gunman’s motives.Sounds just right, especially in the light of the comments by a Clinton administration veteran:
“The only way you gain political advantage is by doing absolutely nothing to take advantage — and not have a lot of people backgrounding about how clever your political strategy is,” said Michael D. McCurry, who was Mr. Clinton’s press secretary at the time of the Oklahoma bombing.This is a situation where political advantage and the moral high ground may well coincide, not only for Obama but the GOP. Regardless of what we learn about the suspect, in fewer than 48 hours it's become a commonplace to say that we have to restore some civility to our political and media conversation. But the only way to do that is just do it. Scapegoating Palin or anyone else for Tucson is an escalation in the political wars. So is the Palin camp's own harsh, defensive rhetoric.
One Republican who has gotten it right is the speaker of the House, John Boehner. He's done so, as far as I can tell, because of the quality of his heart, which has been much derided recently. We could do worse than having his tear-stained face as the new face of responsible conservative leadership.