Sarah Palin ought to shut up for a while

There’s no good defense to the charge leveled by many on the left (and, unfortunately, the media) over the past few days that the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords was the result of Sarah Palin’s PAC website.  Similar to “Senator, when did you stop beating your wife?”, it’s a Kobayashi Maru question – there’s simply no way to answer without appearing defensive.

Sometimes, ridiculous charges speak for themselves.  The sick, twisted people who look at what happened in Arizona and see something that could only come from politics speak for themselves too.  Why sink to their level?

Unfortunately, some on the right have done just that, answering the shrill accusations of Keith Olbermann by pointing out that the alleged shooter Jared Loughner loved the Communist Manifesto.  No matter who starts a mudslinging fight, both parties get their hands dirty.

Pundit League blogger Brian Lehman has had the best response so far: indignation.  The charges that excited participation in the political process created an environment of violence only serves as a distraction – and thus cheapens the gravity of the atrocity.  Trying to mount a defense elevates the nonsense.

Sweet Home Arizona

Folks like Weird Al Yankovic elevate musical parody to an art form.  Then you have folks like John McCain’s current opponent, Rodney Glassman.

Glassman and McCain are engaged in a musical war, and this entry is side-splittingly hilarious, though not for the reasons Glassman probably intended.  Outside of a few random pictures of volunteers, constituents, and Smokey the Bear, the only people in the video are Glassman and his band.  Aside from missing the chance to highlight his supporters, the viewer gets plenty of awkward shots of Glassman rocking out.   Wouldn’t it have been better to have volunteers signing along, or Glassman and his orchestra singing to crowds rather than an empty field?

At the end, Glassman proclaims, “Four decades in Washington, D.C. is far too long!”  True.  While we’re on the subject, four minutes is far too long for a web video to get to the point.  Glassman didn’t have to write a whole song – 30 seconds, plus a brief call to action would do.  And speaking of a call to action – why was the song directed at John McCain?  Shouldn’t he have been talking to his supporters?  After all, they weren’t there for the video shoot.

You may be asking, “Why waste time writing about a web video (even a really bad one) in a race that isn’t competitive?”  A race being unwinnable isn’t an excuse to stop trying to win.  With an effective race, Glassman could build an organization that would position him for a run at Jon Kyl in 2012 or some other statewide office.  (With a recording deal unlikely, future political races seem like a safer career choice.)

Stylin’ and De-profilin’

Satire makes for a strong protest, and a group called Reform Immigration for America has a funny spoof website based on the Arizona immigration law.  The site – – “helps” Latinos avoid being stopped by Arizona law enforcement officials by providing cutout masks of “a friendly white person’s face” (pictured).

Whether you agree or not on the effect of the law, the site is really good – largely due to its simplicity.

The design is basic and minimalist, and there aren’t a ton of extraneous functions.  There isn’t any space wasted with background fact sheets for anyone who hasn’t heard of the issue.  There are only two prominent features: downloading a mask and sharing with a friend.

In other words, the site doesn’t get in the way of its own message.

The most powerful communication is word of mouth.  This site simplifies an important issue, makes its point, plays it for smart yuks, and gets out of the way while you send it out to your social networks.

A very maverick-y negative ad

That John McCain, two years after being his party’s standard-bearer, is fighting for his political life in a primary against talk show host J.D. Hayworth is telling of how urgently many GOP activists want a cathartic cleansing of Republicans of recent vintage.  However, an online video released by the McCain camp makes an argument that the conservative movement needs effective messengers as much as effective messages.

The message is subtle even if the delivery is not: the GOP has a message problem that goes beyond government policy, and the elevation of a voice like Hayworth’s would add to the stereotype.   One would assume that McCain’s campaign has internal poling numbers which show this is a strong field for them to play on, and that Republican primary voters are vulnerable to fears that Hayworth will be perceived as a joke.

The McCain folks are certainly careful to tread cautiously to avoid offending activists – they use extreme-sounding quotes from Hayworth, but on selective issues.  For instance, the video doesn’t take a stand on gay marriage, but it does quote Hayworth’s hyperbolic comparison of gay marriage to bestiality.  This is followed by Hayworth overreacting to an off-hand comment from a political opponent who promised to metaphorically drive a stake through Hayworth’s heart – echoing the over-the-top rhetoric of some Democrats after the recent health care debate.

With this video, McCain tries to tell conservatives that Hayworth is simply not strong enough to carry their flag.  It’s a pretty sophisticated message – and a good one for McCain to deliver, given his at-times-contentious relationship with conservative activists. And the video is funny, which always helps.

McCain does make one mistake in the presentation of his case that’s worth a chuckle or two.  A quick glance of the official John McCain YouTube channel offers potential for misunderstanding; the thumbnail for the video happens to be the screen frame reading “Expose Obama’s Secret Kenyan Birthplace” – and it looks more like a campaign promise than a joke.