Why is Palin Always the Victim?

January 11th, 2011 at 6:13 pm David Frum | 136 Comments |

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I suppose I should not be greatly surprised by this, but blogger Melissa Clouthier has some inaccurate reporting about me on her site today.

Within moments of the tragedy, Matthew Yglesias, Markos Moulitas and David Frum jumped on the blame-Sarah Palin bandwagon.

Clouthier is referring to this tweet.

I retweeted a copy of SarahPac’s now famous gunsight map and added these words “This is unfortunate.”

That does not constitute blame, but just in case of ambiguity, I underscored that point in some rapid follow ups, staring with a direct reply to a tweet of Clouthier’s:

“You think it’s going to be just Matt who makes this point? I’m hoping this is a nonpolitical crime …”

“But if it proves political, unfortunate will be a mild description of what’s to come.”

The Palin people recognized that obvious point too, which is why they scrubbed their sight of all reference to the map – and deleted all criticisms of Palin from their Facebook page.

You can read the whole Twitter file here, which repeatedly stresses that I don’t think Palin is “to blame” – but that Palin’s defensive reactions were unhelpful and ungenerous.

I then laid out what I thought Palin should have done instead, here.

You can hear the repetition of my “Palin not to blame theme but she handled this really badly” in the various radio & TV links on this site.

What does it matter that Melissa Clouthier is so slapdash? Not much in the scheme of things, except that it leads up to this comment by her: “the real crime here is that American citizens were deprived of the right to mourn the loss of lives.” That’s a breathtaking opinion. How could it be that anyone feels deprived of the right to mourn? And yet it goes to confirm a grim witticism I heard from an acquaintance in the hours after the killing: “You must always remember that no matter what happens, and no matter who it happens to, the real victim is always Sarah Palin.”

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136 Comments so far ↓

  • Slide


    Instead of trying to make the Loughner shooting into political crap, the emphasis should be on remembering the victims, supporting the families and friends.

    Loughner’s actual motivations will come out.

    Lougherner’s motivations are irrelevant to the question of whether the hateful, violent rhetoric of the right is appropriate or not. The shooting was just a precipitating event that caused the nation to stand up and take notice of what has been going on these last few years.

    It is not about “politics”. Only a partisan like you would phrase it that way. It just happens that the right is so much guiltier of engaging in such vile and reprehensible vitriol that it appears partisan to you.

    If Sarah Palin has all the right to say the things she does , then I have all the right in the world to attack her for that don’t I? Does she get a free pass for some reason, poor little ole Sarah?

    And about the timing? As I said in a previous comment I can guarantee that Ms. Giffords would be ecstatic that we are finally as a nation talking about this. The tone in politics was one of her main concerns. She specifically mentioned Sarah Palin and the target ad. Her last email was discussing how to to tone down the rhetoric. So don’t give me this crap that somehow we are disrespectful to her to discuss this now as that is exactly what she would have wanted. So save your crocodile tears.

    The right made a conscious decision to go this route. The gun imagery. The tough talk. The demonization of one’s political opponents. You got away with it for the most part now live with your decisions. We ARE going to talk about it. We ARE going to use your quotes. We ARE going to show your vile photos and graphics. We ARE going to make the country aware of the thuggery of the right. Sorry if that upsets you.

  • Slide

    Churl // Jan 12, 2011 at 12:53 am

    I think that she [Palin] is aware of what it is like to be vilified and threatened and has had more than her share of chance for introspection on what happens to politicians and their families.

    Has she ever had a national Democratic politician publish a photo of her with a rifle’s crosshairs superimposed?

  • gobsmacked

    I think everyone needs to revisit history and remember where and when inflammatory language created mob mentalities. Hate-filled rhetoric has resulted in heinous acts everywhere. Without the use of fear and hate mongering speeches, crimes against humanity in Hitler’s Germany, The Balkans, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the Killing Fields of Cambodia and the KKK in the USA would have been less likely. Whether the violence is the product of a revolution, as in most of the examples cited, or the act of a lone crazed individual, words matter and incitement to violence is the result of those words.

  • Slide

    Thuggery (part II)

    Following up on my post about the thuggery on the right, one of the things about thuggery is that it usually ends up being turned on their own. See the below:

    A nasty battle between factions of Legislative District 20 Republicans and fears that it could turn violent in the wake of what happened in Tucson on Saturday prompted District Chairman Anthony Miller and several others to resign.

    Miller, a 43-year-old Ahwatukee Foothills resident and former campaign worker for U.S. Sen. John McCain, was re-elected to a second one-year term last month. He said constant verbal attacks after that election and Internet blog posts by some local members with Tea Party ties made him worry about his family’s safety.

    In an e-mail sent a few hours after Saturday’s massacre in Tucson that killed six and injured 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Miller told state Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen he was quitting: “Today my wife of 20 yrs ask (sic) me do I think that my PCs (Precinct Committee members) will shoot at our home? So with this being said I am stepping down from LD20GOP Chairman…I will make a full statement on Monday.”

    Thuggery at its finest.

    Read the whole article (link below) as it really shows how the thuggery of the right works. They intimidate. They threaten. They attack. And guess what, it works.

    Republicans would be wise to clean up their act. You never know when they may be in the crosshairs from the very monster they created.



  • Slide

    Thuggery (con’t)

    Miller said when he was a member of McCain’s campaign staff last year has been criticized by the more conservative party members who supported Republican opponent J.D. Hayworth. The first and only African-American to hold the party’s precinct chairmanship, Miller said he has been called “McCain’s boy,” and during the campaign saw a critic form his hand in the shape of a gun and point it at him.

    “I wasn’t going to resign but decided to quit after what happened Saturday,” Miller said. “I love the Republican Party but I don’t want to take a bullet for anyone.”

    thuggery doesn’t respect party labels it seems.

  • Traveler

    @Slide 9:12

    Awesome post. Thank you.

  • lisabeth

    David Frum: I will be curious to hear what you think of Sarahs cold, detached, don’t blame me ” blood libel” statement today? I always like hearing your point of view! I don’t think she listened to or read your suggestions though. Does she have actual real advisors or just inexperienced angry assistants like R ManSour. The statement is phony, detached and insincere. She’s the victim and don’t blame her. I think she is a narcissist and no I don’t hate her or wish her harm. I just think she is a very negative voice in our country at a time we need positive solutions and unity.

  • lessadoabouteverything

    Very late to this, but this is why I love Frummy. He tells it like he sees it.

  • Gray Area

    “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!”

    Political Epitaph – 9:31 AM, March 23, 2010

    Sarah L. Palin

  • lessadoabouteverything

    kevin, kevin, kevin, you don’t read carefully what I write:

    nobody anywhere is saying anyone else is liable in a criminal sense. I, for one, think it is long past due that Republicans were held accountable for their violent rhetoric, in the court of public opinion (as I would have been happy to do to Democrats in years past). The violent faction of the left has long been in abeyance though, though Republicans were happy to bring it up during the 2008 election. Apparently 30 year old language by some old hippies is absolutely relevant, Republicans talking about “taking out” Democrats using “second amendment remedies” though is perfectly alright, and worthy of being in the Senate.

    And, of course, the wingnuts sense of victimhood is complete. No one here knows what drove that crackpot to target Gifford, and as I have said repeatedly there is absolutely no justification legally or morally whatsoever, but even if he had a shrine to Palin and Beck in his house I would not blame Palin or Beck for the actions. More killings have occurred in the name of Christ than anyone else in history.

    However, and this point the amoral wingnuts refuse to recognize, if I, as a Pro-life person were to draw a bulls eye on a abortion clinic, call the Doctor a vicious murderer who should be put down, and if, for reasons unrelated to what I have said, someone actually goes out and kills that doctor how can I possibly justify my language? As hyperbole? Would I not be a hypocrite for condemning the doctors death?

    For these reasons, yes MORAL reasons, I work within the law to change the law. I donate to organizations that help unwed mothers, I vote for pro life candidates, I do not use violent language to advance the cause of life. It would be counter productive. That jackass who killed the abortion doctor could have done more harm than anyone else alive, luckily for me though my language and motivations have always been as pure as I could make it.

    the wingnuts are advocating for the right to use as disgusting and violent language as they want. They have that right, but they can not claim to be a victim when people call him out for that language.

    I have repeatedly said I unequivocably condemned language likening Bush to a Nazi and General Petreaus as General Betrayus. I think Moore is as big an ass as Limbaugh.

    Have you once noticed that I have never said anything negative towards Mike Huckabee, in fact I can not find a single reference negatively against him anywhere with regards to this (except for, ironically, a few Republicans who brought up some of his pardons).

    I don’t agree with the policies of Huckabee, but is it too much to ask want to be Presidents and high politicians act with his same kind of decency?

  • deberb

    “Why Is Sarah Palin Always The Victim?” A better question is “Why Are The Democrats So Fearful of Her Presence?” Mention Sarah Palin’s name and democrats come crawling out of the woodwork to make nasty remarks about her. Like it or not, millions of Americans love Sarah Palin….she is a voice for the people.

  • deberb

    I don’t think Huckabee, Gingrich, Romney or Guiliani etc will win in the primaries simply because Americans no longer trust the status quo. It will take a successful governor to get the nod from weary voters who are intent on taking back their country. No more progressives in our White House. We need a voice that hears what the people are saying and someone who will protect and uphold our Constitution at all times. Not to mention mismanaging our hard earned taxdollars…

    Anyone see anyone out there who fits this description?

  • pnumi2


    ‘Instead of trying to make the Loughner shooting into political crap, the emphasis should be on remembering the victims, supporting the families and friends.’

    America has a wonderful record for doing just that.

  • pnumi2


    “It will take a successful governor”

    One who quit to make a buck or one who served out all the time she was elected for?

  • lessadoabouteverything

    It will take a successful governor to get the nod from weary voters who are intent on taking back their country

    Um…you mean Huckabee (10 years) Romney (one full term) Jindal…
    There are a number of successful Governors. One who quit after 2 years is not a successful Governor. Palin will never be President, she will not even be VP or in any Republicans cabinet.

    Look, I make a ton of nasty comments about Rush Limbaugh, that doesn’t mean I am afraid of that billous gasbag. He is just so easy to mock. The same with that twit Palin.

  • Cforchange

    deberb “she is a voice for the people”.

    Please, she’s a voice for your people. She has some awful polling figures to indicate she will not represent “the people”. So plainly more than just Democrats fear her. Barbara Bush told her to stay home but please tell us, Barbara is a Rhino right???

    Fortunately, the American majority knew her style would backfire – you can’t stir the pot without expecting it to never boil.

  • nuser

    What people?

  • nhthinker

    ‘The right made a conscious decision to go this route. The gun imagery. The tough talk. The demonization of one’s political opponents. You got away with it for the most part now live with your decisions. We ARE going to talk about it. We ARE going to use your quotes. We ARE going to show your vile photos and graphics. We ARE going to make the country aware of the thuggery of the right. Sorry if that upsets you.”

    False connection – but that is what the left is know for. Lougner did not watch TV nor listen to talk radio. He was mentally sick and there is absolutely no evidence that his sickness was at all related to any political talk by anyone.

    Also, you gave an old quote from Hasselback and tried to connect it to scoring political points. I only pointed out if you want to use someone as your ally on an issue: the most current quotes are the most relevant and topical. Hasselback most recent quotes are “mad rush” to blame.

    Say a prayer for the victims- Don’t steal their time to make your own political points to connect something that is unrelated to the cause of the suffering of these victims. That is just crass and inappropriate.

  • nuser

    ” Sorry if that upsets you” Unfortunately, I doubt it will.

  • nuser

    How do you know what he did or did not do?
    How did he( Loughner) know about Gabrielle? She was targeted!This was according to F.B.I.
    findings. This was a political assassination attempt, and anti government propaganda appear in
    his writings. Can you for one moment believe the poisonous atmosphere we have had for several years now did not insidiously creep into the political climate?

  • deberb

    Sarah Palin speaks for the majority of Americans. Her platform is smaller government and fiscal responsibility and repealing Obamacare. Look at the polls, folks, and face the numbers…so in that respect, Sarah Palin speaks for the people….the majority of the American people.

    We can solve this by using our common sense: Loughner has had mental illness for a long time….so I doubt very seriously that a comment or comments from Sarah Palin influenced his sick desire to become a national “hero” in his deranged mind. Anyone who blames someone else for this sicko’s action cannot be credible. He wanted to have his name plastered across the news so he picked his target in his home town, planned to assassinate and then carried out his plan.

    Common sense.

  • deberb

    There I go again leaving out a key word or two….what I intended to say was a new successful governor….one that isn’t owned by anyone yet….someone like Christy, Pawlenty, Pence and McDonnell in Virginia. Take a look at their fiscal records and you’ll see what a surplus and new jobs looks like.

  • WildWilly

    “Why are Democrats afraid?” The real question is – why is everybody afraid? I spend time passively listening to a wide range of voices and this is what I hear.

    * The senior citizens are afraid their dole will stop and that Obama will kill them to save money for the schemes he is implementing RIGHT now damn now!
    * The middle class is afraid because their family is now making less than they did a decade ago.
    * The bankers, insurance and investment community is afraid that them might actually have to do useful work instead of running a casino.
    * Young people entering the workforce are afraid because they can’t find a job.
    * The Democrats are afraid they Palin might actually become President of our country in 2012. Others of various political stripes are afraid, too.
    * The politicians are afraid that somebody may take a shot at them. After all, there are a bunch of crazies running around with guns.
    * And many more.

    In the end, everybody will realize that it is just another violent act directed at our leaders and that for all the tragedy of that, a whole lot more than six people have been killed so far today. And, after the surprise wears off and the story drops out of the news cycle, they will resume their normal routines. That is what they have always done after a killing. AND, THAT’S WHAT SCARES ME! We have come to accept and even expect this type of event. Maybe I am cynical, but I don’t believe there will not be any attempts to deal with our cultural penchant for violence.

  • deberb

    It’s human nature to “move on” Wild Willy. It’s healthy not dwell on something you have no control over. Of course, Americans are sad about this tragedy and the truth is it will die out soon and we’ll be on to another tragedy. You see, we cannot get rid of violence in our country or any country. This is “just another violent act directed at our leaders.” I am a realist and as such like to put things in perspective.

    We’ve always had violence. What makes it different today is that the internet has allowed us to talk about it so it is “out there” and “in our face” everyday.

  • Cforchange

    Deberb – are you the wowowow full time Palin campaigner?? Well that ship has sailed. The GOP must move on and I totally disagree that the majority of Americans want Palin as their voice especially when she exercises her freedom of screech.

    As you mention – look at Christy… Now there you cite effective leaders – successful governor’s that don’t let the hardships of the job make them walk. Certainly Christy has encountered challenges stiffer than anything Palin did before she QUIT. He doesn’t look like he is getting distracted and there he is day after day pursuing a most difficult course to right NJ. You can’t interchange performance with campaigning – not the same thing.

    There are many other candidates worth examination but when the majority members of the minority membership party think that their wishes project to wins, their delusions for a presidential race are revealed.

    Db, you didn’t answer me, is Barbara Bush a rhino???

  • anniemargret

    wildwilly: “We have come to accept and even expect this type of event. Maybe I am cynical, but I don’t believe there will not be any attempts to deal with our cultural penchant for violence.”

    Lord, you have hit a nerve. You are so right…and yes, very scary. I am old enough to remember the late 60s and early 70s when I was on a major NYC college campus and when the rioting and rallies against the Vietnam war was at its zenith. Everyone was on fire. Everyone wanted a say.

    I think the only way any of this is going to change is for our *elected leaders* to show some guts and speak out consistently and openly about it. It’s up to them….and it will only be up to them, if they know their constituencies care deeply about it. Write, call, email your congressman/woman and tell them how you feel and what you want.

    If we become apathetic, then yes, wildwilly, your prophecy will be all too correct. There is hope. This country is still of the people, by the people. The majority of the people in this country do NOT like what we’ve been hearing and seeing.

    Time to bring back the 60s….! Get involved, get moving, write and make an appeal.

  • jakester

    yes, millions of simple minded Americans love Palin, many more despise her. She doesn’t even have solid support on the Right and every minority community hates her. Outside of America, she is considered a complete joke. She is a low class cheap rabble rouser of no intellect or integrity. I don’t hold her responsible, but her cheap talk and incessant gun nuttery left herself wide open for this kind of speculation. She is hardly a calming, peaceful person when even her supporters imagine her waving guns around.

  • kissthestick

    i dont even know how this women got so close to being VP

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    nhthinker: “Lougner did not watch TV nor listen to talk radio.”

    Yet, somehow, he formed the view that he should kill his Congressional Rep., he knew who his Congressional rep was, where she’d be and when. If he knew all that without any access to news outlets, he wouldn’t be crazy; he’d be psychic. But, of course, he isn’t psychic so we know nhthinker is wrong.

    “He was mentally sick and there is absolutely no evidence that his sickness was at all related to any political talk by anyone.”

    How do we know he’s mentally ill? I’m not saying he isn’t, but I don’t know how anyone knows that he is at this point in time.

  • heap

    mama grizzly, pitbull with lipstick, etc, etc, etc.

    amazing how somebody can simultaneously be a hardass and a wilting lilly at the same time, aint it?

    she throws barbs with the best of them, but when the favor is returned she turns on the ‘Poor me’ victim routine.

    every. damn. time.

  • Lucky

    This may be slightly off topic, but it provides a potential answer to the question of your headline.

    Sarah Palin is always the victim because, I believe, she is sociopath.

    In Martha Stout’s excellent book, “The Sociopath Next Door,” Stout describes the two most identifiable traits of a sociopath: reckless behavior followed by pleas for pity.

    Stout explains that sociopaths, according to one large study, anyway, account for 4% of any population. 1 in 25. Yikes. Even if those figures are inflated — as I believe they likely are — Stout makes a convincing point that sociopaths are so common that most of us know one or two.

    And because, like all of us, sociopaths have various personality strengths and weaknesses, they can be hard for average folks to recognize them.

    The difference is this: average folks have consciences, sociopaths do not.

    You cannot hurt their feelings, because sociopaths do not–quite literally–have feelings to hurt.

    The brain studies of sociopaths are fascinating. For example, to form a sentence containing words such as “love” or “respect,” sociopaths use the same parts of their brains that the rest of us use to solve algebraic problems.

    Everything–and I mean EVERYTHING–I have ever heard Sarah Palin say, or ever read of her saying, has had at least one hallmark of sociopathic personality disorder.

    Perhaps you have read this criticism of Palin — that she is a narcissist.

    The difference, if I understand correctly, is that narcissists do tend to have consciences.

    But, nature being what is is, spectacularly diverse, perhaps Sarah Palin is an embodiment of BOTH narcissistic AND sociopathic personality disorders.

    Of course her hate-filled words, images, and ideas did not directly result in the shooting.

    But, still, she is a person who is proud to hate. And thought has form and words have power.
    Hate spreads. We are not islands, and the claim that the individual always acting alone is fraudulent.

    Ultimately, Sarah is a person who winks at murderous metaphors in place of real discourse.

    She is a superstar to those who are tired of compassion and yearn for blood.

    Blood libel?

    No — just a cruel heart and the clinical inability to empathize.

  • pnumi2


    Very convincing. Have you any insight about that Rasputin of a husband of hers?

  • westony

    Palin’s support of Dr. Laura and the “N” word was just as offensive to African Americans. What an offensive, insensitive person. And NEVER accepts responsiblity or apologizes for anything. In the Dr. Laura incident it was about Freedom of Speech. In this incident it’s about Blood Libel against her. Next week it will be something else. Every week there is another controversy that Palin either “starts” or involves herself in. And her supporters continue to fill her head with dreams of the Presidency and illusions about her strong Christian values. When was the last time anyone saw Palin near a church?

  • nhthinker

    nuser // Jan 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    How do you know what he did or did not do?
    How did he( Loughner) know about Gabrielle? She was targeted!This was according to F.B.I.
    findings. This was a political assassination attempt, and anti government propaganda appear in
    his writings. Can you for one moment believe the poisonous atmosphere we have had for several years now did not insidiously creep into the political climate?”"

    Too many people think about how they process information themselves and assume everyone else has a tendency to act on the same passions. People reason in different ways. It could potentially be that Jared wanted to socialize and make his opinions known but at many times through his life suffered embarrassment and ridicule because he had disconnected thoughts. Three years ago, Jared felt embarrassment when Giffords would not answer his question in a public forum. Seemingly, that created his target in his “end-it-all”, life is not worth living, FU to the world, you’ll pay attention to me now-, evil thoughts that fed his ego to counter his pain from embarrassment and ridicule.

    The issue is we don’t yet what exactly motivated Jared. As President Obama said last night:

    “For the truth is none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind. Yes, we have to examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future. (Applause.) But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. (Applause.) That we cannot do. (Applause.) That we cannot do.”

    Maybe he read my original post here, because that was the theme of his speech last night.

  • Lucky


    Thank you!

    I have no insight about Todd Palin.
    He did want Alaska to secede, did he not?
    I wish we heard more about that…

    In any other candidate, that would have been enough to end their political career.
    But not Sarah — no.
    She is breathtakingly, fascinatingly, brazenly aggressive toward others, and it pays off.
    We are so busy gasping at her gall that she gains power.

    Real, grown-up politicians usually issue statements as press releases and so on.

    Not her — the media gives her so much coverage that all she needs to do is fart, oops, tweet, to get a place at the front of the news cycle.

    NOTE: The left needs to get itself together and stop bitching about Sarah Palin on huff po,
    and start organizing to get the vote out in 2012.

    Can you imagine if Sarah Palin (and Todd) had all of Blackwater at their disposal?

  • TruthFactsONLY

    This is not rocket science..when you are continually attacked, with no basis in fact, YOU ARE a victim…of those attacks..The media..who apparently are out to get her..keep covering her via their attacks..and I think the are a little pissed of that she has the courage to confront those attacks..