Arizona’s in the Lower 48, it’s warmer than Alaska, it begins with an A and it harbors an extreme Right Wing—and since Bristol and all the other Palins serve only to make SarahPac richer and famouser, my wife’s conclusion was an inescapable. Or at least it was until the Tucson massacre several weeks later left six dead and Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords gravely wounded.
Even though Jared Lee Loughner’s monstrous act seems to have had no direct connection to political rhetoric, the carnage cast a cold light on Sarah Palin, who infamously drew up a map targeting Democratic lawmakers—including Gabby Giffords—placing them in the crosshairs of a gun. Appearing on MSNBC, Giffords, who barely won reelection after a bruising campaign against a virulent Teabagger, had voiced concern about possible “consequences” of Palin’s map.
Virtually no responsible commentator directly blamed Palin for what happened that January day. But her petty, insensitive and titanically self-absorbed response—the notorious “blood libel” video and interviews that followed—eviscerated sympathy for the former half-Governor. On both sides of the aisle.
The real Palin—cold, calculating and forever the aggrieved victim—peered out through those icy eyes of hers. The cuddly Mama Malaprop of Tina Fey’s satire gave way to the hate-monger we saw inciting crowds during the 2008 campaign. It may well have ruined her political career, if not her celebrity.
You might think Sarah Palin would steer clear of AZ for awhile. But of course, that would violate all her “don’t retreat, reload” nonsense. And sure enough, Politico’s Ben Smith today cited a source who claims that Palin will, indeed, make Arizona her political base. And that if her bid for the GOP nomination fails—or she bails, or opts not to run—she might instead enter the race for retiring Republican Jon Kyl’s U.S. Senate seat.
Before her attempted assassination, Gabby Giffords, too, was reportedly considering a Senate run. Now she is slowly but steadily recovering from her wound—still wearing a helmet until her skull heals, she is by all accounts intellectually sharp, and is recovering her power of speech.
Gabby has a grueling road ahead of her, and it’s still not clear if she’ll return to her former vigor and eloquence. But some Democrats cling to a long-shot hope that the Congresswoman will recover sufficiently not just to mount a re-election campaign—but to go for that Senate seat. Again, it’s probably a pie-in-the-sky fantasy. I thought the most Gabby would manage was a dramatic appearance to nominate President Obama at the 2012 convention.
But if we suspend our disbelief just a bit, we could imagine Sarah Palin running for the office of U.S. senator from Arizona—against Gabrielle Giffords. Indeed, I can picture Palin up there in Alaska, or wherever she’s promoting herself, indulging in just such a fantasy—a revenge fantasy, in which she turns her attack machine on the woman who had the gall to get herself shot and steal her spotlight—an actual victim.
Palin vs. Giffords? Unlikely, sure. But Sarah Palin is just tasteless and grotesquely narcissistic enough to do it.