Clearly responding to jabs that her presidential aspirations were the least-important victim of the weekend's massacre in Tucson, Sarah Palin took to YouTube Wednesday to criticize the critics.

She said attempts to link her kind of violence-laced political rhetoric to Saturday's shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others, six of whom died, was “a pretext to stifle debate.”

The money quote:

“Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits [that's us!] should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”

Let's just pause and analyze this for a minute: 1) Blood had already been shed. 2) There was nothing libelous, as far as we can tell, written. What journalists asked was if Palin's volatile rhetoric had anything to do with the suspect's actions outside a Tucson Safeway Saturday.

In targeting Giffords and other Congressional Democrats up for reelection by using a graphic of a rifle's cross-hairs over their districts, Palin stated this on her Facebook page:

“Don't retreat! Instead – RELOAD!”

So naturally, people wondered if perhaps the suspect could have taken this mantra literally, particularly if he was mentally ill.

Here's what local Sheriff Clarence Dupnik — a man who saw the blood first hand — had to say that tragic day:

“The hatred and bigotry in this country have gotten out of control.”

He wondered if heated political rhetoric could have set off an “unstable” suspect.

Here's the thing. Journalists didn't say this. They recorded his words. It's not libel. It's an expert's opinion.

Within hours if not days of the massacre some wondered if Palin's political career, particularly her widely held aspirations to become president, were a FAIL.

After the tragedy U.S. Rep. Diane Watson of L.A. said (via ReelUrbanNews), “She has just signed her absolute denial of any public office again.”

Like any good political strategist would advise her to do, Palin got in front of the camera Wednesday, with the American flag at her side, and attempted to appear above it all — presidential, even.

But while she condemned attempts to tie her fighting words to the violence in Tucson (” … Each individual is accountable for his actions,” she said — apparently not referring to herself), she made strange allusions to violence and gunplay, as usual.

Palin marveled at the “peaceful transition of power” in the last two national elections, which she said “proved yet again the enduring strength of our republic.”

Because the losers always attempt to take over the government here, banana republic-style.

She notes that many pundits have observed an increase in the heat of our political discourse in this Palin era.

“When was it less heated?,” she said. “Back in those calm days when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols?”

We're sure Palin the hunter misses those days.

“When we take up our arms,” she said, “we're talking about our vote.”

Eh, no Sarah. Only you equate the quintessential action of Democracy with pulling the trigger and taking a life. It's not what normal people think of when they vote.

It was a nice try. But, in our view, Palin is increasingly headed toward nut-job status in American politics. She'll soon join Ross Perot in that recycling bin.

LA Weekly