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Palin palling around with Tancredo's extremism

Adam Serwer is a Staff Writer with The American Prospect, where he writes his own blog.

During the 2008 Presidential Election, then-vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who has now endorsed Tom Tancredo, accused then-Sen. Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists," because the president had served on the board of an anti-poverty group alongside former Weather Underground member William Ayers, who is now a professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

In the 1960s, the Weather Underground perpetrated a series of bombings of government buildings, although due to the fact that they warned most of their targets beforehand, there were few casualties -- three Weathermen died in New York when a bomb they were making exploded prematurely. The United States' definition of terrorism is "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents," a definition that carefully exonerates states from charges of terrorism if they deliberately target noncombatants.

Still, deliberately targeting non-combatants is something that Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tancredo is comfortable with.

 In 2007, he advocated threatening to bomb Mecca and Medina to deter a nuclear strike from al-Qaeda terrorists. Not only would attacking the holiest cities in Islam be the worst possible strategic action one could take in retaliation to a terrorist attack, but Mecca alone has a population of about 1.4 million people who wouldn't have anything in common with the perpetrators other than calling themselves Muslims. In that hypothetical scenario, retaliation should be swift, sure, and accurate. Targeting innocent people, rather than the terrorists themselves, would be the next best thing for the terrorists beyond actually succeeding at carrying out an attack.

This statement also can't be defended by arguing that the Soviet Union and the United States had adhered to the doctrine of mutually assured destruction if one side used nuclear weapons. The people living in Mecca and Medina aren't citizens or subjects of al-Qaeda, they merely all self-identify as Muslims.

While Tancredo later tried to say he never said such a thing, that was a different time, when George W. Bush's outreach to Muslims helped sideline some of the more extreme Islamophobic elements on the right. At the time, as Thinkprogress points out, the State Department said Tancredo's statements were "reprehensible" and "absolutely crazy." Even other prospective Republican presidential candidates at the time distanced themselves from Tancredo's remarks.

Today, in the aftermath of the controversy of the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero, many mainstream conservatives have openly embraced hostility towards Islam, so it's no surprise that Tancredo has recently chosen to reiterate his past statements. As George Zornick at Thinkprogress noted yesterday, Tancredo, locked in a tight gubernatorial race as the Constitution Party candidate against Democrat John Hickenlooper, defended his original remarks:

You guys, remember, the statement that I made, in the context in which it was made, I think is quite defensible. I still do, and I still would say it. It is just that I would have absolutely no reason to say it as the governor of the state of Colorado. There are a lot of other issues of which I would become involved. So it is kind of goofy to say, 'What if he said something like that again?' Well, you know, the fact is that there is a lot of people who, just as you say, are worried about these issues. But if they are not relevant to the state of Colorado, I am probably not going to be talking about it.

It is in this context that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin chose to endorse Tancredo yesterday. Palin's decision was transparent political cynicism -- in order to show she's a force within the movement, she wants to pick conservative candidates who are likely to win. Since Tancredo is to the right of the Republican nominee foundering in the polls, Dan Maes, he's the better bet.

Sure, as governor of Colorado, Tancredo thankfully won't be responsible for formulating American foreign policy. But since we demand that American Muslims categorically reject political violence as a condition of participating as legitimate voices in American public discourse, it seems only fair that we ask the same of American politicians running for the position of chief executive to an entire state. Certainly, given Sarah Palin's express concerns about Obama's tenuous connections to Ayers and acts he took when the president himself was a child, it seems odd that she should endorse a candidate who has openly speculated about targeting innocent people in order to make a political point.

It shouldn't matter that the people in question happen to be Muslim. 

By Adam Serwer  | November 2, 2010; 11:38 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, Foreign policy and national security  
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Repost from previous thread

Liam -- I'm not sure what "run to the center" would mean in practice. The health reform law was if anything a centrist or moderate solution to the health crisis.

Posted by: Greg Sargent at 11:11 AM


There are many, many versions of a moderate health care bill - and that is precisely what was wrong with the health care debate - the options were not out there under discussion as they were during the Hillary health care debates in 1993-94.

First, a far less expensive bill is possible - on all three levels Federal, State and the Business Premium level.

2) Obama is requiring everyone in the country to buy a health insurance policy PACKED AND JAMMED with benefits - there are no less expensive options

3) The business community has no idea what its costs will be during the phase-in and at the end of this disaster. The additional benefits cause EVERY health insurance in the country to be far more expensive - and the uncertainly makes it even more expensive

4) The subsidies for individuals are going to be really, really expensive - Obama does not need a plan with subsidies at the center. The total costs of this part are going to skyrocket. AND this only encourages a black-market economy to develop. The IRS should have never, ever been involved

5) The bill should focus on the Regulation of the health care insurance companies as if they were utilities - instead of this bureaucracy-driven command model. Clearly, this creates a need for additional lobbying of administrative agencies in Washington - not a good result.

The worst abuses of the health insurance companies could have been addressed through regulation - however Obama and the left preferred to use those abuses as JUSTIFICATION for a massive government program, instead of working to focus on those abuses.

The country needs a far LESS expensive health insurance bill. And I didn't even talk about the costs forced on the States as a result of Obama's bill.

Posted by: MyHairLooksFantastic | November 2, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Who cares! Anything but a Democrat, right?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 2, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Other folks who have endorsed Tancredo here:

Posted by: sbj3 | November 2, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Call me la liberal because this is the kind of conservatives I would like to put in detention camps.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | November 2, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

This is a special case - the Republican nominee in the race has imploded.

The democrats elected a brewery owner - a bar owner who has been running around wild for years in the bar district of Denver.

That is why Tancredo is doing well.

However, Tancredo's only position that the liberals "claim is extremist" is that he wanted Federal immigration laws to be enforced.

Some extreme position = Enforce the Federal laws on the books.


Posted by: MyHairLooksFantastic | November 2, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"Call me la liberal because this is the kind of conservatives I would like to put in detention camps."

You and Howard Dean. I can only hope that you will ride statements like that to a future electoral victory.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 2, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

The question of the day is this: Why have the American People lost confidence in the ability of Obama and the liberals to govern???

Look at these threads.

The liberals CLAIM they know more about health care than anyone else - they claim they know what is best for the nation - however upon a short discussion, the exact opposite is true.

There is an insistence on the part of liberals that they know better - that a 2,000 page health care bill is the ONLY most far right option available -

Then the liberals start to babbly about even more far-left options.

The truth is the liberals have SHUT DOWN all conversation. Obama didn't want any discussion about the options on health care.

The liberals didn't really engage in a discussion on the various options.

The arrogance - the shutting down of discussions - the idea that Obama never sat down with McConnell during the entire health care episode.

It is PRECISELY these responses from the liberals which cause REASONABLE people to have zero confidence in Obama's and the liberals' ability to govern.

After a year and a half of health care debate, the liberals STILL HAVE A SHALLOW VIEW OF THE HEALTH CARE ISSUES.


Posted by: MyHairLooksFantastic | November 2, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Tancredo is running for Governor of Colorado, a position which has little to do with foreign policy.


William Ayers has always been a valid issue -

With the lack of a decades-long track record of positions, Obama's political associations are FAIR ASSESSMENTS as to where Obama stands on the issues.

If Obama had a 20 year track record in the Senate on various issues, it would be different.

William Ayers helped Obama get elected to the State Senate - that is true. A description of "political mentor" is fair and accurate.

Obviously, one may exonerate Obama on the basis of opportunism, however the association is there and IS HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE.

Add this to the Rev. Wright's church - this was a close association, Obama brought his children there to listen to Rev. Wright.


These are all fair questions - what are Obama's core beliefs. And the speech in Philadelphia, contrary to media reports, was filled with references to Black Liberation Theology.

A discussion with the liberals is not possible if they are going to DENY THESE BASIC FACTS.

Also, the killings in the Brinks truck robbery in Nyack, NY - the children of those who went to prison were cared for by William Ayers - Obama HAD TO KNOW THESE CHILDREN - they were at William Ayers' house in Obama's neighborhood.

Very close associations.

Posted by: MyHairLooksFantastic | November 2, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

All, must reading, Clinton's 1994 press conference after the midterm bloodbath. Will Obama say the same?

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 2, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Palin thrives because you call her supporters stupid and discount their views as ridiculous.

Why are you then suprised when they don't listen to you?

Posted by: 54465446 | November 2, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse


You are right about the attacks on Palin

The attacks on Christine O'Donnell are the same. I truly wonder what is going to happen in Delaware today.

Only 200 people showed up for Biden's rally, which is shocking.

It just seems like Obama and Biden completely ran out of ideas, and completely ran out of gas over the weekend.

Reagan in 1982 ran a strong midterm even though he lost seats. But the control of Congress wasn't up. And in 2002 the control of Congress wasn't up either.

The democrats have to stop acting like blacks, latinos and women owe them their support based solely upon their skin color and gender.

That attitude is offensive and not just to a few individuals.

Posted by: MyHairLooksFantastic | November 2, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

STRF There is NOTHING that looks fantastic on you. You are the scum of the earth you loser!!! You literally need to be institutionalized for your antisocial behavior. You are an embarrassment to conservatives everywhere. The only points you are making are about your own MENTAL HEALTH!!!! GET HELP PLEASE AND STOP WITH THE NEW SOCK PUPPETS EVERYDAY.

GREG PUHLEEZEEEE HELP!!! If this loon's motivation is to run me from this blog he/she/it is getting close to success.

GREG: You need to get your techies to investigate Kevin's troll repellent so we can put an end to this stuff!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: rukidding7 | November 2, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse


Why not just move on to the next thread?

Posted by: 54465446 | November 2, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Newspapers used to have an ombudsman to ensure that both sides of an issue were reported accurately and impartially. Nowadays, the Washington Post simply publishes the opinion of staff writers as fact, and since the Post hires only liberal writers, that's the only view people see. If another view is reported at all, it's in the jump and limited to a single quote.

I know Tancredo personally and the newspapers absolutely delight in quoting him out of context because he does not speak politicalese the same way other politicians do: try asking your local congressman a question that has a yes or no answer and see what you get. What he means is that how he feels personally is not what would be best for the country overall and he will consider what is best for the country overall, not his personal anger over 9/11.

Note also that when a story is disproven the only retraction you get -- if any -- is a little squib on an inside page that noone reads. How is it fair to offset slander that way? It's no wonder that newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur: people are tired of being told how to think and only getting part of the story.

Posted by: NeitherLiberalNorConservative | November 2, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

@gregs:a centrist or moderate solution to the health crisis.

all true except for the solution part. Way better than the status quo, but I couldn't characterize it as a solution. As long as for-profit insurers, big pharma, and/or private hospitals are a dominate the picture, HCR is mostly broken...imho ;-)

Posted by: srw3 | November 2, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

RUK remember don't feed the trolls. If you let him/her drive you away, it will only encourage him/her...
strf and his puppets are more to be pitied than censured...

Posted by: srw3 | November 2, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

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