Sarah Palin doesn’t seem to understand how politics works

Sarah Palin is not responsible for the shooting in Arizona. However, she is responsible for bad taste by targeting Giffords in that poster. Whether she could have been considered guilty of bad taste at the time of the posting is a different story. But in retrospect, it can be seen as in bad taste. And I guess that’s too bad for her. Her misunderstanding of how politics works and her own inability to assess risk in her political actions is her own fault. Had last week’s shooting not happened she might have gotten away with her tasteless posting. It is, in fact, somewhat rare for a politician to be assassinated in the U.S. She may have weighed the risk and decided it was worth using violent imagery to gain the necessary House seats for her cause, which, from what I can tell, is self-aggrandizement. She gains power by looking like a kingmaker but has no official gain in power if Giffords and the other targeted members lost.

But now she looks like a tasteless, terrible person and that was the risk that she took. It is not her fault that Giffords was murdered, but it is also not anyone else’s fault for thinking that what Palin did in the past looks horrible now. Hindsight is 20/20 but emotional reaction is much blurrier.

She really has no recourse now but to fight the accusations that she somehow contributed to the assassination attempt. However, she will forever be associated with the event in a bad way. Is it fair? Yes, it is. She should have assessed the risks of using violent imagery and she may have. Other politicians choose not to use such imagery and politically that looks very wise right now. But Palin may have influenced some extra people to vote against other members of congress on that map and those votes cannot be retroactively changed. This may be an example of winning the battle and losing the war but that’s how things work in politics.

Sometimes it works the other way. Richard Nixon might have been elected in 1968 because some crazy person killed Robert Kennedy. Had Nixon made some tasteless remark about Kennedy before the assassination, he might have lost through no fault of his own.

The facts are that Palin targeted Giffords with a crosshair symbol and Giffords was subsequently shot. It may be unfair to blame her for the shooting, but it’s also unfair to blame people for associating her with the shooting.

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