John – I’d like to know your reaction to George Packer here:
“It’s undeniable that some Americans on the left never accepted the Bush Presidency as legitimate after the Florida recount. It’s also undeniable that the left’s rhetoric over the Iraq War was often hostile, simplistic, and unfair.
“But it won’t do to dig up stray comments by Obama, Allen Grayson, or any other Democrat who used metaphors of combat over the past few years, and then try to claim some balance of responsibility in the implied violence of current American politics. (Most of the Obama quotes that appear in the comments were lame attempts to reassure his base that he can get mad and fight back, i.e., signs that he’s practically incapable of personal aggression in politics.) In fact, there is no balance—none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side’s activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can’t stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.”
What Packer says might all be true, but it’s also tangential to the issue here, which is: Can you draw a straight (or even crooked) line from right-wing radio, knuckleheaded politicians, or the Tea Party to Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner?
The answer seems to be no.
What we have here are two parallel storylines that – at least right now – do not intersect.
Is there spiteful, hateful, hurtful public discourse currently in play?
Is Jared Lee Loughner (they always have three names, except Ted Kaczynski) spiteful, hateful, hurtful?
That doesn’t mean one is the consequence of the other.
It’s just Gabrielle Giffords’ bad luck that she intersected with Loughner.