Tired of being smeared in the media by disgruntled McCain aides, Sarah Palin took a shot at her critics yesterday, referring to those who have been leaking stories about her spending sprees, "rogue" behavior, and confusion as to whether Africa was a country or a continent as “cruel" and "mean-spirited." The Governor of Alaska then went on to say this: "It’s immature, it’s unprofessional, and those guys are jerks.” Palin argues that her quotes were taken out of context, and that the clothing scandal is merely a creation of disgruntled McCain staffers that want to throw her under the bus. So does Palin deserve the drubbing she's been getting in the media? The answer is a bit complicated.Let's get this out of the way: we are all sick of hearing about Sarah Palin. She dominated the news cycle during the past two months of the campaign, with everything from her hate-filled rallies to her pregnant daughter to her wardrobe choices finding their way on to the front page of every newspaper in the country. Who is this woman, we asked, where the hell did she come from, and how can we send her back there? What began as a strong campaign for Palin, with her addition to the ticket boosting McCain's popularity with disgruntled Clinton supporters and rallying the conservative base, quickly devolved into a wacky politics sideshow: she unraveled on national television in front of Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, two anchors who she should have been able to handle. She came across as unprepared and ignorant, but still maintained millions of fans across the country, who were drawn to her pro-life stance, her folksy huntin' background, and, of course, her looks and style. As the McCain campaign sputtered out amidst the economic crisis, Palin's presence on the ticket was suddenly more curse than blessing; she was blamed for being a drag on the ticket, her approval ratings bottomed out, and Americans began to realize that she would not be ready to take the position of President of the United States, should anything happen to John McCain. Prominent Republicans such as Colin Powell and Chuck Hagel came out against Palin, citing her lack of foreign policy experience as a reason why she was not ready for the job. And so, on Election Night, we saw Sarah Palin with tears in her eyes, and many of us probably laughed at the screen. She would head back to Wasilla, Alaska, to be greeted by fans at the airport who chanted "2012" as she stepped back into her home territory. The GOP, however, doesn't seem too pleased about those Palin 2012 plans, piling on the criticism as the McCain campaign is torn to bits by angry former supporters. It's extremely easy to laugh at Palin at this point: her ill-preparedness is coming back to get her, and we can all breathe a little easier knowing that our rights, at least for a little while, are in safer hands with the new administration. Throwing Palin under the bus takes the blame off of McCain, though the argument can easily be made that Palin didn't put herself on the ticket; McCain is more to blame for Palin's presence on the national stage than Palin herself is. Yes, Sarah Palin made serious mistakes. Yes, she was a drag on the ticket, due mostly to her own screwups, her inability to answer a damn question, and her extreme-right stances turning off moderates and independents. But to turn John McCain's nasty campaign on Sarah Palin herself says more about the Senator from Arizona and his staff then it does about the Governor of Alaska. As Palin's reputation is torn apart, it's almost getting difficult to revel in the mudslinging. John McCain is being praised for his "gracious"concession speech, as if 15 minutes of prepared remarks have suddenly wiped away 6 months of all-out nastiness on his behalf, and yet Palin continues to be pummeled by her own former team with rumors of her stupidity, greed, and ambition. McCain didn't lose because of Sarah Palin; McCain lost because he ran a small, bitter campaign, he didn't know enough about the economy, and because he listened to Steve Schmidt, who told him to place Palin on the ticket in the first place. But still: Palin will be the face of McCain's failures. And though I have no love for Palin, and no respect for her stances on any issues, I can't help but feel that something is not right here. Even the worst mistakes of Sarah Palin do not negate the fact that she didn't get here on her own: there are others who deserve the criticism far more than she does. Palin Aide Fires Back At McCain Camp Claims [ABC News] Palin In Spotlight As Republicans Turn On Each Other [The Guardian] Secrets of the 2008 Campaign [Newsweek] Palin Calls Her Critics 'Jerks' [MSNBC] Chuck Hagel: Palin Isn't Ready [MSNBC] Colin Powell Endorses Obama, Says Palin Unqualified, Defends Muslim-Americans [LA Times] The Making (and Remaking) Of The Candidate [NYTimes] Gracious McCain Puts Bitterness Behind Him [The Independent]
I did feel for her, on a purely human level, when I saw the tears in her eyes during McCain's concession speech. Whatever you thought of her during the campaign ~ and I had as low an opinion of her as anyone else ~ she had a tough couple of months. And now, seeing the viciousness with which she's being attacked be McCain's former staff, and the personal nature of the attacks, something in me says "whoa; enough is enough!" It's unseemly to pile on like this, and to make her the focus of the campaign's every failure is just plain cowardly.