Sweet Revenge for Palin

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 11 2011 11:29 AM

Sweet Revenge for Palin

Eric Kleefeld catches Sarah Palin , with some amount of relish, talking about the responsibility of union leaders to tell their supporters to chill the hell out.

These union bosses that are acting like thugs, as they are leading some of their good union members down a road that will ultimately result in, unfortunately, somebody getting hurt, if you believe the death threats that are being received by those who just happen to support amending some collective bargaining privileges of state unions. Well, it is these unions bosses' responsibility to turn down the rhetoric and start getting truth out there, so that nobody gets hurt.

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Kleefeld focuses on the irony of Palin , she of the target map and "retreat, don't reload," saying this. I hope that's not the lesson liberals are taking for this. She provides no evidence for "union bosses acting like thugs," but there has been rhetoric from elected Democrats about Wisconsin that's been just as heated as anything Palin, Bachmann, et al ever said. I'm not interested in comparing one random person's sign to another random person's sign. I'm just saying, Democrats framed this battle in life-or-death terms just like Republicans framed the battle over health care in life-or-death terms.

If there was easy access to footage of the 60-hour Assembly debate over the budget repair bill, I'd point to that. But if some enterprising conservative blogger wants to dig, he can find plenty of rhetoric that warned of dire consequences if the bill passed. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio., said in a Senate floor speech that Hitler, Stalin and Mubarak had all been anti-union, too -- I think there's an implication there. (Brown apologized for the comment.) On The Ed Show this week, Wisconsin State Sen. Tim Carpenter said, from exile, that "I guess the best way to describe this is this is our Pearl Harbor of workers' rights."

"B-b-but!" you say, "that's not the same thing as Palin saying 'don't retreat, reload!'" Well, I don't care about what she said, even if was bad for her politically. A lot of people seemed to care, though! They cared so much that they didn't realize the implication -- that this is an endless, tedious game of gotcha, and that and as long as people strive to get elected to office, they will make war metaphors and go over the top.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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