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Will the Arizona tragedy end Palin's presidential hopes?
As the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords brings new scrutiny to Sarah Palin's gun-themed rhetoric, pundits debate the political fallout
 
Sarah Palin has limited her response to the tragedy to a brief message on her Facebook page offering her condolences to the "victims and their families."
Sarah Palin has limited her response to the tragedy to a brief message on her Facebook page offering her condolences to the "victims and their families."
Corbis

The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is being called a "turning point" and a "defining moment" for Sarah Palin, whose use of gun imagery (a 2010 campaign "map" targeting Giffords district with a crosshairs symbol and a call to "reload") has been linked, unfairly or not, to the Arizona tragedy. As soon as the media made the connection, Palin's odds to win the 2012 Republican presidential nomination started sinking sharply at Irish bookmaker InTrade. Can Palin recover, or even thrive, from this tragedy, or could it end her political ambitions forever? (Watch an MSNBC discussion about Palin's comments)

This seals Palin's decline: There were signs "that Palin's prospects of winning the GOP nomination were dimming" even before the Giffords shooting, says Steve Kornacki in Salon. But now that her "most provocative antics" are being widely mentioned alongside this "bloody shooting rampage... the past few days have been devastating for her 2012 standing."
"What will this do to Sarah Palin's '12 chances?"

What's Palin got to do with it? "I hate to break it to the media, but this story is not about Sarah Palin," says Kathryn Jean Lopez in National Review. And it certainly doesn't mark a "turning point" in her political career. There's nothing to connect Palin to alleged shooter Jared Loughner, and even if he were a fan, the story would still be about "a disturbed man in Arizona" and the people he murdered.
"This is not the Sarah Palin story"

It isn't just Palin who'll come under scrutiny: It doesn't really matter if Palin's "use of martial and apocalyptic language" played any role in the killing spree, says Joshua Green in The Atlantic. The tragedy will be a "turning point in how the media cover politics," with much greater scrutiny of "overheated political rhetoric and violent imagery." Such base-riling talk paved the "Tea Party path" to the 2012 GOP nomination, but now it could haunt Palin, Newt Gingrich, and other Tea Party hopefuls.
"The Tea Party path to the presidency just got tougher"

It's what Palin didn't say that will hurt her: Palin's supporters are right that she's been unfairly dragged into this story, says David Frum in FrumForum. But once she was, Palin was "handed perhaps her last clear chance to show herself presidentially magnanimous," and she blew it. Instead of inspiring Americans with her "larger humanity" and leadership potential, Palin came out with a "petty," wholly "inadequate" response that was all "about Palin, not about Giffords." 
"What Palin needed to say after Giffords' shooting"

 

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