By Chris Cillizza
Friday, January 14, 2011; 10:55 AM
In moments of crisis, great politicians rise to the occasion. Bad ones tend to fall flat.
Sarah Palin learned that the hard way this past week, when a statement she released hoping to quell the controversy that surrounded her after the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) only helped create a new and even larger controversy.
At issue was a map that Palin's political team published during the 2010 campaign. It had cross hairs on 20 Democratic districts - including Giffords's - that Palin was targeting as politically vulnerable.
In the aftermath of the Jan. 8 shootings, many on the left unfairly blamed Palin for somehow inciting the gunman. (The details that have emerged since last Saturday suggest that the suspect, Jared Loughner, was deeply troubled and without any coherent political philosophy.)
Palin, rightly, felt aggrieved. But her 1,141-word statement issued via Facebook not only cast her as a victim (not good), but also used the phrase "blood libel," a loaded term with deep anti-Semitic roots (double not good).
Palin's folly was exacerbated by the speech that President Obama delivered Wednesday night, a stirring address that made the former Alaska governor's words seem small and self-interested by comparison.
The episode reinforced the notion that Palin is still teetering between conservative celebrity (a la Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck) and serious politician. Her actions suggest that she is more comfortable in the former camp, which is fine -- unless you'd like to be elected president of the United States someday.
Sarah Palin, for seeing a window of political opportunity and slamming it shut, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail email@example.com with your nominees.