Sarah Palin possesses an uncanny ability to make even a somewhat reasonable position on any given issue sound extremist, offensive, condescending, and ignorant at the same time. And as the star's shine fades fast, her statements - if 140 characters can be called that - become more desperate.
Consider the debate around whether or not President Obama should release photographs showing the gunshot wounds to the head that ultimately killed Osama bin Laden. Only the fringes are questioning whether it was actually bin Laden who was killed, but the White House still debated if photos should be made public. Even in the president's inner circle, there was not unanimity. Leon Panetta, director of the CIA who managed the capture and killing, suggested that releasing the photos might be useful. But the president ultimately decided against it, explaining to 60 Minutes tonight that he didn't think the photos would serve US interests and could even put soldiers in jeopardy.
Over at @SarahPalinUSA, the soon-to-be former darling of the GOP tweeted:
Show photo as warning to others seeking America's destruction. No pussy-footing around, no politicking, no drama; it's part of the mission
How is one supposed to read this tweet? Is the failed vice presidential candidate employing language designed to emasculate and mock the president? Is the reality star accusing the president of creating drama? Is the half-term governor lecturing the commander in chief about how to conduct a mission, a wildly dangerous but successful and vital operation?
Disagreeing with the president about his decision not to release the photo is understandable. Like Panetta, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina supported its release, saying "The whole purpose of sending our soldiers into the compound, rather than an aerial bombardment, was to obtain indisputable proof of Bin Laden’s death. I know Bin Laden is dead. But the best way to protect and defend our interests overseas is to prove that fact to the rest of the world. I’m afraid the decision made today by President Obama will unnecessarily prolong this debate."
Maine's Republican Sen. Susan Collins said, "But what I'm worried about is there will be this mythology that will arise that somehow Osama bin Laden escaped, or isn't really dead or someone else was killed, despite the fact that it clearly was Osama who was caught and killed in this raid. So I think if there's a way to release a couple of the pictures, hopefully ones that aren't as gruesome -- they are going to be inherently gruesome because there were shots to his head -- that it would help prevent that mythology from arising."
Many lawmakers, on both sides of the aisle, agree that releasing images that purportedly show bullet holes, brain matter, and embodied death and violence would not advance interests abroad. Sens. Graham and Collins disagree, and there points seem reasonable and balanced. But when I read Palin's tweet, I wonder, what does this woman want? Should the military have ditched the Islamic burial at sea, brought bin Laden's lifeless body back to the US, and allowed mobs to have at it? Perhaps they could set it afire, drag it through the streets of New York and Washington, and allow the nation's collective vengeance and anger to have its day. Nothing pussy-footing about that plan! Just part of the mission?
Thankfully polls suggests that Palin's heyday is behind us (though one clown is replaced with another in The Donald). But the true antidote to all this foolishness comes most powerfully not in words, but in a single photograph, flickr's most viewed ever:
Around that table are sober adults, overseeing a true life-and-death operation, who understand that the world is a serious and sometimes dangerous place. While Palin's sideshow may have been entertaining, the American people are reminded at times such as now that thoughtful leadership is more important than cheap politics.