Point of View Columns

Trump as Macbeth

When it comes to Donald Trump there appears to be no limit to the depths to which he will descend in his faux campaign for the presidency, a campaign that seems more and more like a textbook exercise in narcissistic self-indulgence. But this time, using his dog whistle to suggest a “Second Amendment solution” to Hillary Clinton he has once again gone too far.

It was only six years ago that Sarah Palin rose from the ashes of a failed campaign for the Vice Presidency to reincarnate herself as a Tea Party Queen. But as she staggered and wobbled from one misstatement to another falsehood, she too went too far. In the fall of 2010 she “targeted” members of Congress who should be defeated by the Tea Party zealots.

In case anyone was short on interpreting symbolism, Sarah Palin’s website displayed a national map and put a gun scope on the offices of the “targeted” Representatives. And then, a few months later, one of the Congressional Representatives targeted by Palin, Gabby Gifford of Arizona, was shot in the head.

Although it has not been confirmed that the shooter was inspired by Sarah Palin, and it is clear that he is a deranged individual, Sarah Palin created an atmosphere where “Second Amendment solutions” start to sound sane to the insane. And the blood of the individuals killed and maimed in Tucson is on the hands of Sarah Palin – indeed she is a modern day Lady Macbeth who will never be able to wash that blood off her hands.

And now along comes Donald Trump, a virtuoso dog whistle player, intimating that Second Amendment adherents could somehow solve the “Hillary problem”. Defenders/enablers of Trump contend that he is guilty of no more than spewing a bad, tasteless joke.

But there is a huge part of this country’s population that has seen presidents shot (Reagan) and killed (Kennedy, John). Many Americans have also witnessed the assassination (Kennedy, Robert) and maiming (Wallace) of presidential candidates in real time. And now that we live in a nation with over 300 million guns it would seem that this would be the worst time to kid around, joke around or dog whistle around rhetoric that even hints of “Second Amendment solutions” to the presidential campaign.

The Secret Service has already taken note of Trump’s comments, another unprecedented occurrence in American political history. But much like Lady Macbeth, we already know that any violence directed against Hillary Clinton or anyone associated with her campaign will elicit a canned denial from Trump, who will then be America’s Macbeth.

Of course, what is so sad and sickening about this entire situation is that Trump is the designated candidate of a major American political party. What is worse is that there are tens of millions of Americans who think that arrogant, indecent and profane man should be President of the United States. What is even worse is that even when Trump is defeated in November and he goes back to his gaudy hotels and his defraudulent schemes and his golf courses, those tens of millions of Americans will still be with us.

And that may be the greatest danger of all. Trump will go away and disappear into the swamp of indecency and self-aggrandizement from which he slithered. But those tens of millions of Trump supporters aren’t going anywhere.

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Point of View Columns

Requiem for Sarah Palin

Last week it was announced that Fox News would not be renewing Sarah Palin’s contract with the network. Losing her position as a regular on television is just more evidence that the Ms. Palin’s star has lost whatever luster it ever had. But the departure of Sarah Palin is also further evidence that Fox News is just another entertainment network and not a serious source of news.

When John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate in 2008 he accomplished several things. First, he demonstrated an awesome disregard for the United States and its citizens by choosing a person who would almost certainly have been the most unqualified Vice President in recent history (although Dan Quayle would have to rank a close second). But John McCain also placed Sarah Palin in the spotlight and gave her a platform for her to advance her own personal career.

From the moment that she claimed that she could see Russia from her kitchen window it was clear that Sarah Palin was not a person to be taken seriously. Her capacity for mangling facts and the English language became the stuff of legend. And there is no doubt that her position on the Republican ticket helped Barack Obama become the 45th President of the United States.

But out of the ashes of defeat, Sarah Palin rose phoenix-like and became a star – a celebrity who was famous for being……………famous. That any group would pay $50,000 – $$100,000 to hear Sarah Palin speak speaks to the power of 21st century celebrity and to the fact that it really didn’t matter whether Sarah Palin had anything of importance to say. It was simply enough that she was a celebrity.

Clearly this was the calculus that Fox News employed in signing Sarah Palin to a $1 million per year contract three years ago. Sarah Palin has no known expertise on any subject except self-promotion. Certainly the occupants of the executive suite at Fox News knew that, but then Fox News is a news network in name only. It is, in fact, a reality show just like “American Idol”, “Real Housewives of Wherever” and “Celebrity Chefs”, except that this reality show takes place in a set made to look like it is part of a news network.

Fox News buys celebrities and doesn’t care whether there facts and truth are part of the script. The fact that it broadcasts opinions that slake the thirst of their parched right wing of the right wing viewers is not the point. What is the point is that rarely are those opinions even in the vicinity of facts and, in many instances untruths, distortions and outright lies are the menu du jour at Fox News.

Election Day 2012 was the final illustration that Fox News is not a news network. Even before the polls closed their cast of commentators did everything but sacrifice a fatted calf to support their hopes and prayers that the Muslim Kenyan communist fascist anti-Christ would be defeated. They defied facts, they ignored statistics and staked their hopes on their belief that somehow, someway, Mitt Romney would deliver them from four more years of Barack Hussein Obama.

Even when the Fox News statisticians and pollsters decisively proclaimed President Obama re-elected, their commentators refused to leave their state of denial. The only thing that they didn’t do was click their heels in the hope that they might return to Kansas.

It is for all these reasons and more that it seems unfair that Fox News in effect fired Sarah Palin. She has never pretended to be anything more than a headline seeking, spotlight searching promoter of the one cause in which she believes with all her heart – Sarah Palin. And in that regard she has not changed.

I can’t help but think that Sarah Palin’s decline accelerated when she got carried away with her “lock and load” rhetoric and then put a gun sight target on the office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on her own website – and then the Tucson Massacre happened. Many people have thought that Sarah Palin had blood on her hands after that and she never had planned to play the role of Lady Macbeth.

But clearly, as her popularity has declined, she no longer is an asset to Fox News. She used Fox News to promote her newfound celebrity, and Fox News used her to boost its ratings. Now Fox News has no more use for a fading star on her way to the land of miscellany and trivia. Soon she will be a Jeopardy answer, if she’s lucky.

Fox News has no more use for Sarah Palin and neither does this country.

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Point of View Columns

Sarah Palin is Today’s Lady Macbeth

When you think about it, the Tucson Massacre on January 8th had to happen. It was just a matter of time. There has been so much violent and vile rhetoric flying through the airwaves and the internet that it was only a matter of time when it would be bullets instead of words whizzing through the air.

Last year Sarah Palin published a map on her Facebook site which “targeted” twenty members of Congress for defeat. In “targeting” these elected officials she cunningly used the visual of the crosshairs from a rifle scope. For those who still didn’t get the point, she exhorted her followers to “reload” as they went after their prey.

One of the twenty “targets” was Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who received a bullet through the brain as eighteen other citizens, including a nine year old girl, were mowed down in a hail of bullets. Having the misfortune of falling afoul of the self-proclaimed Momma Grizzly, Congresswoman Giffords was shot in the head.

Almost before the gun smoke cleared, right wing of the right wing apologists flocked to microphones to proclaim the Tucson shooter to be a lone “madman”. A representative of Sarah Palin stated that “we never, ever, ever” intended the crosshairs targeting elected officials to encourage someone to shoot anyone. Others urged patience until it could be determined what the actual motive of the killer might be.

Sarah Palin has been winking at calls to kill President Obama that are shouted by her adoring beige shirts. She endorsed and supported Sharron Angle’s candidacy for United Senator in Nevada even after Ms. Angle called for “Second Amendment” solutions to reform government and urging her followers to “take out” Senator Harry Reid.

No one will ever know what has been coursing through the mind of Jared Lee Loughner. No one will ever really know what went through the mind of John Wilkes Booth or Lee Harvey Oswald or Mark Chapman or James Earl Ray or the Son of Sam. What we do know is that the toxic and gun-tinged rhetoric of Sarah Palin and her ilk has contributed to an environment in which the misguided can take her metaphors literally. The undeniable result is the Tucson Massacre.

Sarah Palin cannot be allowed to wink her way out of this. Her irresponsible use of her celebrity has created a cadre of gun toting, Bible beating, Constitution waving followers who actually believe that she has real answers for the real problems in their lives. And while she basks in their adulation she is also cashing in big time with her books and television shows and speaking engagements.

I have to wonder whether, in the quiet moments just after midnight, Sarah Palin considers the possibility that her words and deeds could have, in some very real way, contributed to the madness that was the Tucson Massacre. While we will all grow old and die waiting for a mea culpa from her, I wonder if she feels any guilt, any responsibility, any remorse.

Could Sarah Palin really go to the astronaut husband of Congresswoman Giffords and convey her sympathies without a twinge of regret? Could she speak to the parents of little girl who was killed and look them in the eye? Could she be so devoid of shame? No one could be that shameless.

It is clearly time for Ms. Palin to exit the public stage. Just as the comet of publicity brought her into view a little more than two years ago, it is time for her to just disappear in the very same, rapid fashion.

She has lost what little credibility that she ever had by reason of her irresponsible language and her inspiration of the worst emotions that dwell in American society –bigotry, prejudice and fear, always fear.

Talk of her running for President of the United States or even having influence over who is chosen will start drifting away just like the gun smoke in the Tucson parking lot.

She is condemned to be a latter day Lady Macbeth. She can wash and wash her hands forever, but the blood of the Tucson Massacre victims will be on her hands.

Just as it was with Lady Macbeth – no one else can see the blood, but it will always be there for her.

It is a punishment that she deserves.

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