Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I've always thought of Instapundit as tendentious but incredibly superficial -- looking back a decade, it seems to have been a Twitter feed before there was Twitter, and, in the '10s, Glenn Reynolds seemed like yesterday's man.

Now, though, he's suddenly hot. The New York Times reports on Sarah Palin's new fireside chat about the Tucson shootings and tells us:

Sarah Palin, who had been silent for days, on Wednesday issued a forceful denunciation of her critics in a video statement that accused pundits and journalists of "blood libel" in their rush to blame heated political rhetoric for the shootings in Arizona....

By using the term "blood libel" to describe the criticism about political rhetoric after the shootings, Ms. Palin was inventing a new definition for an emotionally laden phrase....

Except that, no, she's not inventing it -- she nicked it from the Wall Street Journal op-ed that appeared under Reynolds's byline on Monday:

The Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel

...So as the usual talking heads begin their "have you no decency?" routine aimed at talk radio and Republican politicians, perhaps we should turn the question around. Where is the decency in blood libel? ...

And he's not the only one quoted the Reynolds op-ed. Here's the op-ed's lede:

Shortly after November's electoral defeat for the Democrats, pollster Mark Penn appeared on Chris Matthews's TV show and remarked that what President Obama needed to reconnect with the American people was another Oklahoma City bombing. To judge from the reaction to Saturday's tragic shootings in Arizona, many on the left (and in the press) agree, and for a while hoped that Jared Lee Loughner's killing spree might fill the bill.

Now, here's Rush Limbaugh, in the radio segment in which he asserted that Jared Loughner "has the full support of a major political party in this country":

Hey, folks, let's dabble here in a conspiracy theory just for the fun of it. While the Drive-Bys and Sheriff Dupnik and others are now trying to lay this squarely on me, who was it last November who actually suggested that Obama needed an event like this just like Clinton had the Oklahoma City bombing to revitalize his presidency? It was Mark Penn, a Democrat pollster and fundraiser. Well, what more do you need? You've got a Democrat fundraiser and pollster, Mark Penn (very popular, worked) with Hillary, suggesting that what Obama needs is an event like Oklahoma City, people mass murdered to revitalize his presidency. All of a sudden here in early January we get one.

Why not connect the dots? Your average conspiracy theorist would suggest, "Are the Democrats behind this?" Because Democrats, powerful Democrats, wished for this. It happened on Chris Matthews' show. Powerful Democrats wished for this as a means of an opportunity for the president to shore up his sagging base, poll numbers, what have you. Voila! In two months' time, we have a nutcase opening fire in Tucson, Arizona -- and, lo and behold, leading Democrats are conducting strategy sessions with the president on how he can use the right words to maximize this event. He wants to lay this on me or Palin when we have nothing to do with it, yet leading Democrats actually hoped for this. Interesting conspiracy theory, isn't it?

(Want to know how this Penn remark was really received on the left? Check out this Crooks and Liars post. I'll give the ending away by telling you the title: "Mark Penn and Chris Matthews: The Banality of Evil.")


Whenever the wingnut Wurlitzer goes into overdrive this way, I always wonder: do these folks really just pick up the choicest memes spontaneously and retransmit them artfully, like a crack jazz band improvising, or NBA stars flawlessly executing a fast break? Or is there a summit meeting somewhere in which the talking points are hashed out, along with a schedule for transmittal and retransmittal, so that the thing is as scripted as a pro wrestling match? (In which case, did Reynolds himself really assemble the talking points in the op-ed, or was that the work of a team of angry-right propagandists?)

Then again, "blood libel" may not exactly endear Palin to voters who remain skeptical about her. Nevertheless, I think the overkill of it is a sign to her posse that, for all the red-on-red attacks she's had to fight off recently from the Roves and the Krauthammers, she's still in the fight -- and still going too far, which, to her base, is a sign that if they want someone to piss off liberals (and that's pretty much all they want), it's still true that no one can do it better than she can when she's on her game.


AND: The Reagan quote in Palin's speech? It was posted at Fox Nation on Monday. This speech wasn't written; it was assembled.

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