Should We Be Surprised?


In the aftermath of Saturday’s gruesome shooting spree in Tucson, people on both sides of the growing American political divide can try to backpedal all they want, but if ever there was a time to point fingers and ask tough questions about the tenor of our national “debate,” that time is now.

Yes, it takes a seriously disturbed individual to open fire on a crowd of innocent people, whether those people are schoolchildren, former co-workers, or merely random targets. You cannot, however, separate Jared Loughner’s actions from the political climate in which they occurred, and to pretend that the attempted (and explicitly planned) assassination attempt on a member of the United States Congress—an attempt that claimed the lives of six others, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge—was purely the act of an isolated madman operating in a moral vacuum is disingenuous, at best.

By now everyone’s heard about Sarah Palin’s disgraceful “target” map. Rational people might view that graphic as nothing more than a folksy way to mobilize campaign resources, but Palin—and the rest of her Tea Party cohort—surely know that there are an awful lot of irrational and disturbed people out there who may not necessarily understand the nuances of such a subtle motivational tool. Nuances tend to elude the kind of people who might, say, carry guns to political rallies or, say, stomp a woman outside a Senatorial debate in Kentucky.

To say that such deeply angry and irrational people could not possibly be susceptible to deeply irrational rhetorical incitement from pundits and politicians is foolhardy. Gabrielle Giffords knew as much, and said last spring—referring explicitly to Palin’s map—“When people do that, they’ve got to realize that there are consequences to that action.”

There are consequences, and there will continue to be consequences, when, as Extra! magazine noted in its January issue, Fox pundits like Bill O’Reilly joke about “decapitating” newspaper editors and columnists (as he did in 2005, and again last year), or when Glenn Beck “jokes” about poisoning former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Or, for that matter, when Liz Trotta, yet another Fox contributor, “jokes” about assassinating President Obama.  Funny stuff, I guess, if you’re a Beltway sophisticate of a certain political persuasion.

Not so funny, however, if you don’t quite get the joke, and really not funny when there are so many people out there who aren’t joking at all.

1/30/2011 8:11:37 AM

As the good old song goes... Version 1- HELP ME FAKE IT TO THE RIGHT. OR Version 2 - HELP ME FAKE IT THROUGH THE RIGHT Oh, and Occum...which hand should we raise? Left or right?

1/20/2011 3:57:49 PM

Since no one is listening anyway I will jump on my soapbox here. Here goes. Considering the complexity of life I feel it is not only juvenile but increcibly simplistic to ascribe ones self to a group in the sense they are used in current times. I am a republican or conservative. I am a democrate or liberal. History explains those two descriptors have switched the hand they have held over time in this country and society as a whole. As I listen to certain radio talk show hosts referring to each other as "the great one", "el rushbo" "the great american" I can only refer back to the superlatives of simplistic and juvenile used in the last mention. So how do we personlly become fiscal conservatives that are socially liberal.? I listen to alot of political televsion and radio programs yet I can't recall "the immediate endictment" of the right wing political media being called out. I do remember an upset and overloaded sheriff commenting on an upsetting and somewhat personal event in his community. Every day since then I have heard the monotonous diatribe of the initiating talk show host followed by every other show host "parroting" the same non-thought provoking mantra. Now they are picking at a Goebbels reference made by "some quasi-socialistic democratic wanna be communist. Are they looking in the mirror? Are they hearing what they are saying. Please raise your hand if there is any merit to this.

1/18/2011 9:57:26 PM

I love pettifogging. The etomology does not stand up but it is a fun word regardless. So what is the arguement we are all engaged in? Politics by its most basic meaning is the practice of communicating the discourse of life. So I become confused as to why the fashioning of variable ideas becomes the life and death situation ranted about by either side. However, I find there are absolutes pronounced by certain parites that scare the crap out of me. The answer is..... stand by all ships at sea......YOU DON'T KNOW.....let me repeat that to everyone laughing.....YOU DON'T KNOW. It is that simple. Religion, politics, child raising, airline schedules, mail delivery or is it a dog turd or a pine cone? So we listen to all the "experts" because they have shows to tell us. Rush, Rachel, Seah, Chris, Keith, Glen, ad infintitum. I asked previously how Geraldo would reconcile his beginings at WillowBrook with what he does now. I used to care... I wonder who still does.

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