Rachel Stassen-Berger is one of the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s principal political reporters. In her Star Tribune story this morning on security at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, we find this:
Asked during Monday’s news conference about “targets on a website that Sarah Palin did,” [Minnesota Governor Mark] Dayton said: “My personal view is that is beyond the pale of appropriate political discourse.”
Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, had an image of the United States on her fundraising website that depicted gunsight cross-hair images over specific House districts, including that of Rep. Giffords.
Stassen-Berger asserts that bit about “gunsight cross-hair images” as a fact, but it is not. And it is a bit late to be making this assertion as a fact.
If you’ve been following the discussion on the Internet since Saturday, however, you would have noticed the discovery that those aren’t gunsight crosshairs on Palin’s map. They may be surveyor’s symbols, or crop marks, or register marks, but they aren’t gunsight crosshairs. They aren’t even bull’s-eyes, or targets.
As Dana Loesch comments: “I think a lot of people owe Sarah Palin an apology.” Or a correction. Like Rachel Stassen-Berger and the Star Tribune.
PAUL adds: I think most people who saw the ad would have thought the marks were gun crosshairs, not surveyor marks. By most people, I mean most people on either side of the political divide, Tim Pawlenty for example.
I don’t think most people would have enlarged the ad, as Dana Loesch did to support her argument that the ad doesn’t use gun crosshairs.
Palin’s spokesperson is saying that “we never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights; it was simply crosshairs like you’d see on maps.” I take her at her word, but would encourage all political campaigns to use more unambiguously non-martial graphics in the future.
I agree, however, that anyone who has tried to associate Palin with the shooting spree owes her an apology.
JOHN adds: I agree that most people looking at the Palin map would see the symbols as gun sights, but I don’t understand how this is any different from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s map, which identified “targeted Republicans” with bulls-eyes. I don’t think there is anything wrong with either map. Military terminology and metaphors are so deeply embedded in our language that we use them all the time, without even thinking about it. (The word “campaign” is one of countless examples.) I don’t think it is hard to distinguish between ordinary use of military references and metaphors and those that are threatening, like the “art” work that depicted President Bush with a gun to his head, or the hanging of Sarah Palin in effigy (not precisely military, but violent). I would say that President Obama’s exhortation to fellow Democrats to “bring a gun to the fight” may be over the line, too. In general, though, politicians have an incentive not to go overboard.