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But the attackers aren’t running for anything. They just go on to the next attack. They are after ratings and circulation, not votes — and the more sensational their accusations and the more vulnerable the target, the better. But Palin has an image to protect, and when she is hurt in these exchanges, it matters politically.
Palin’s basic point was, as usual, sound. These killings were the act of an evil madman, not anything related to our political dialogue. But this sensible point got buried, and many voters looked at the “blood libel” statement as self-indulgent and thin-skinned. To them, Palin seemed to be the one using the murders to besmirch her enemies, even though she was only answering their charges. Critics charged that she looked more concerned about defending own personal reputation from the attacks than with the national tragedy that had just taken place.
The point is that Palin should not and cannot answer. She needs to rise above the attacks. If she is going to run for president, she needs to be presidential. She can’t descend to the level of her critics. She needs to do what makes her look good, fighting for less government and conservative causes, not what makes her look bad — fighting with her enemies.
If Palin took the high road — as Obama did — and decried the violence in our society and stuck to condemning the killings, she would not have been hurt by the liberal charges. But, by answering, she exposed herself and got hurt.
Next time, we hope she learns her lesson.
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