I’ve been tied up a bit and was too late to the party to really add anything new to the blogospheric reaction to the Arizona shootings, but looking over the comments to this thread, I am reminded that many of the left-wingers still trying to score political points on this one are seriously beyond parody.
Everything we know about the Arizona shootings points to the same conclusions: Jared Lee Loughner was not any sort of political conservative or Republican, paid no attention to political conservatives or Republicans, didn’t even vote in 2010, was your basic unhinged lunatic and recognized as such by the people around him, and had been obsessed with Congresswoman Giffords since 2007. Thus, any effort to use the shootings as an excuse to attack Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Jan Brewer, the Tea Party movement, etc. in any connection with the shootings is dishonest political opportunism, plain and simple. And yet the ecstasy of folks on the left in their immediate reactions to the shootings was palpable from the instant the story hit Twitter, and nearly none of those folks have allowed their initial reactions to be affected even slightly by the facts.
I know why this is being done, but I don’t know why anybody should be expected to believe it. We all saw coming clearly the pre-existing desire of the Left to replicate how Bill Clinton benefitted from Oklahoma City. We also saw the the instant efforts to blame all the same people for the Discovery Channel shootings, the Holocaust Museum shootings, the suicide of a government worker in Kentucky, the Times Square bombing, the DC Sniper, etc., none of which held up at all after the facts came out. But the lesson of Hurricane Katrina remains embedded for the Left: the first out of the chute to build a narrative can set it in stone before the facts are available. So we see the same people using the same “frame” over and over again until they can get it to stick. This week’s Word Of The Week was “eliminationist,” which got recycled endlessly by Kos, Paul Krugman, Peter Daou and other usual suspects (samples here). Which is ironic, of course, as it is the Left that has conducted the noisiest campaign over the past several years to delegitimize the Tea Party and the Republicans it supports through a barrage that has little or nothing to do with discussion of political ideas and everything to do with trying to make citizen activists sound crazy, dangerous, racist, etc.
The merits of the argument that people on the Right were using “dangerous” rhetoric that could have hypothetically contributed to the shootings – even in the complete absence of any sign that they did – are also lame, best symbolized by this rather pathetic effort to explain why it’s dangerous to use a crosshairs on a map of political election targets, but perfectly OK to use a bullseye. These angels-on-heads-of-pins distinctions are, unsurprisingly, not that effective in persuading the public, but effective in giving the media a deniable rationalization to keep running stories drawing a connnection that’s not there.
What’s left is a sort of passive-agressive rabbit-punching strategy: attack Sarah Palin in particular in an effort to politically destroy her over the shootings, then complain that she’s politicizing the issue when she fights back (one day we had Chris Matthews saying Palin was “on the lam” for not addressing the attacks, the next she was being faulted for responding; heads I win, tails you lose). This is emblematic of people who cannot bear to take a fraction of what they dish out, and are uncomfortable with robust debate rather than a one-sided media narrative in which all media voices proceed from the same premises.
And you know who really has no standing to complain about extremists? Supporters of Barack Obama, that’s who, as we can recall from the extensive evidence of Obama’s long, sorded background with hate-spewing and in some cases violent extremists. Sarah Palin condemned Jared Lee Loughner after the fact; that may seem like a ridiculously low bar to set for public discourse until you consider that our current president directed large sums of grant money to Bill Ayers, an unrepentant member of the terrorist group the Weather Underground, to direct a distinctly politicized school curriculum after Ayers’ crimes.* Of course, typical of the rabbit-punching strategy, the same people who concoct incredibly baroque theories trying to tie Sarah Palin to violent extremists argue that it is illegitimate and racist to discuss Obama’s direct association with an actual terrorist.
None of the criticisms leveled at Palin or the Right in general here have been made in good faith. None at all.
* – I have no idea if there is any credibility to this report that one such curriculum was used by the school attended by Loughner; World Net Daily is not exactly what you’d call a credible source. But the facts asserted by WND ought to be checkable, and checking them would give you the basis for an article less dependent on wholesale speculation than, say, this one.