Mitz-Vote

Palin and the Elusive 'Mot Juste'

By Gal Beckerman

  • Print
  • Share Share

When do we stop being surprised by Sarah Palin and the strange things that emerge from her mouth?

The latest is her invocation of the words “blood libel” in the course of a videotaped speech denouncing both the shooting of 20 people in Tucson, Arizona and the blame she has taken for contributing to violent political rhetoric that may encourage such violence.

It’s still a mystery why she would so blithely use a phrase that refers, historically, to the accusation that Jews were murdering Christian children so they could use their blood in making matzo. Was she equating herself with persecuted Jews? Just trying to keep the rhetorical fires burning? Or did she simply not know what she was saying?

Bloggers immediately went to work parsing out her meaning, trying to point out the inconsistencies with her earlier positions. How could she say, for example, that she believes crimes “begin and end with the criminals who commit them” and square that with the guilt-by-association inherent in her opposition to the mosque near Ground Zero or her refrain during the 2008 election that then-candidate Obama was suspect because he was “palling around with terrorists”?

On his blog, Ezra Klein even daydreamed about comments that an imaginary Palin could have produced: “My initial response was to defend the fact that I had never condoned such violence, and never would. But the fact is, if I in any way contributed to an unhealthy political climate, I have to be more careful and deliberate in my public language rather than merely sharpen my defenses.”

This would have made her seem big and her critics small, Klein said. But this is not what she said. She said what Sarah Palin would have said, because she is…Sarah Palin.

This is the person who last November talked about “standing with our North Korean allies.” Or how about her Twitter message of August 18, 2010: “Who hijacked term: ‘feminist’? A cackle of rads who want 2 crucify other women w/whom they disagree on a singular issue; it’s ironic (& passé)”

Or who can forget her invention of the word “refudiate”?

We don’t point this out in order to ridicule – or only partly so – but to make the point that “blood libel” is not some anomalous moment in her career as a public figure.

And it would be good for a few laughs if not for the fact that Sarah Palin is a political figure with clear presidential ambitions (why else that fluttering flag in her video?). So maybe we should stop being surprised at her inability to lead and just accept that maybe, at the end of the day and particularly at moments like the present that call for a strong leader, she just isn’t one.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.