By: Jonathan Martin
With a long list of enemies, a taste for incendiary rhetoric and responsibility for a campaign website graphic that placed gunsight logos on a map of targeted congressional districts, it didn’t take long for Sarah Palin to get pulled into the orbit of Saturday’s massacre in Tucson.
So far, the former Alaska governor has said little, only posting a brief message on her Facebook page Saturday offering condolences to those affected by the shooting. But the rush on the left to affix some of the blame on her for the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has suddenly turned the tragedy into a defining moment in Palin’s meteoric political career.
Whether she defends, explains or even responds at all to the intense criticism of her brand of confrontational politics could well determine her trajectory on the national scene—and it’s likely to reveal the scope of her ambitions as well.
Palin didn’t respond to an email Sunday afternoon. Her advisers are furious that she’s being linked to the tragedy, but recognize the delicacy of the situation and are trying to assess how best to halt it from spiraling further without making it any worse.
Part of Palin’s quandary is rooted in the unique spot she occupies. Since her resignation from the governorship in the summer of 2009, Palin has played a role that is part talk-show personality and part political figure. It’s a positioning that has served her well, creating personal wealth and celebrity appeal while energizing her core supporters.
But now, for the first time, Palin is being forced to choose between the public and private spheres she operates in. If she has any intentions of running for the presidency, she must begin to appeal to the country’s broad political center. And that task just got harder in the wake of Tucson.
Read more at politico.com