The loops that Tea Party leaders, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and more staid conservative analysts, and even Barbara Walters has been amazing to watch to let Sarah Palin off the hook for her lethal crosshairs map that targeted House Democrat Gabriella Giffords and nineteen other Democrats is absolutely amazing to see and hear. Their argument mostly boils down to two points of defense. Palin's map and her bulls eye target of Giffords and the other Democrats was politically savvy and focused effort to target vulnerable Democrats, and galvanize GOP voters in those districts. There was absolutely no personal or hint of violent animus in her political ploy. The second point is that her map is just a standard eye catching political graphic that Democrats have also used to target vulnerable Republicans and rally Democrats to defeat them.
Neither is remotely true. Let's look at Palin's map and compare it to the widely published and cited Democratic Leadership Council map by Palin apologists. The DLC published their political map not as a prelude to the midterm elections as Palin's map was, but a month after the 2004 presidential election. George W. Bush had already won a second term. The graphic was part of a lengthy, and fleshed out assessment of the reasons why the Democrats lost the 2004 election and what the party had to do to be competitive in 2008. The DLC political manifesto ticked off a list of issues, course corrections and outlined a strategy that the party had to undertake to win toss up states in and outside of the South and the Midwest to have any chance of victory in 2008. The DLC map did not mention one single GOP congressperson or senator by name for defeat. It focused exclusively on the states that the Democrats needed to ramp up their time, energy and resources in trying to make a political dent in the GOP's decade long dominance in those states. It crunched the political numbers and showed that Bush won the potential swing states by single digit margins and stressed the strengths and weaknesses in those states of the Democrat's strategy, approach and organization. The nine bulls eyes on the DLC map carefully explained that the Bush margin of victory in the swing states was less than 10 percent. Palin's map was no political assessment of the strengths and weakness of the Democratic Party, did not lay out a blueprint or grand strategy for increasing the GOP influence in the states, let alone make any effort to educate voters on the crucial issues.
It was nothing more than a crude, calculated, and cynical, inflammatory political hit piece on individual Democrats with the inflammatory appeal in bold "Let's take a stand" and hammering on the issue that was the most caustic and inflammatory for many conservatives and that was the health care reform bill. Palin's hit list of Democrats was designed not to educate and inform voters on the range of issues in the elections, but to politically wipe out Democrats that Palin thought were easy pickings. Gabriella Giffords was, tragically, one of them. She instantly recognized the danger of Palin's crass map. She pulled no punches in interviews warning that "words have consequences" and that she did feel that Palin's map targeting her posed a threat that went far beyond mere political bad theater; that there was the real possibility that some unbalanced individual could in fact take her admonition to take a stand literally, and do serious harm to one or more of the targets on Palin's hit list.
Giffords sadly was right. It wasn't hard for her to make that warning. For months, millions have been relentlessly bombarded with images of a gun toting Palin on hunting forays, and exulting the virtues of guns. The spectacle of Palin's Tea Party devotees packing guns and weapons, and issuing bellicose saber rattle threats to liberal and moderate Democrats with President Obama right at the top of their list as a target of their shrill violence tinged abuse have been looped repeatedly. Palin and her defenders spin it every which way that her political map was a perfectly acceptable political blueprint for defeating Democrats, and that if some nut case decides to blast away at a public figure don't smear the blood of that figure and the innocents that go down in the crossfire on them. That blood is on their hands, or more accurately on their hyper-charged incendiary rhetoric against Democrats. Polls and surveys show that a majority of Americans did see the real consequences of the vitriol and pure hate and potential incitement to violence behind maps and rhetoric like Palin and company as Giffords. They are fed up with it. The great tragedy is that Gifford's prophetic words about the hate behind Palin's map weren't heeded. The nation paid a steep price for ignoring that. Any effort to chalk that up to politics that everyone engages in defames the Tucson dead.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts national Capitol Hill broadcast radio talk show on KTYM Radio Los Angeles and WFAX Radio Washington D.C. streamed on ktym.com and wfax.com and internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson