The shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the killing of several people by gunman Jared Loughner in Arizona yesterday has revealed two sicknesses.
The first and most serious is the sickness living in Loughner’s head. Evidence in the form of farewell videos, internet postings, and the recollections of people who knew him reveal a profoundly disturbed person who had veered far into a paranoid world. Loughner’s complaints about government mind control and other rants were not “anti-government” in any political sense, but anti-government or anarchist in the Ted Kazynski-deranged sense. We do not know Loughner’s motives, but those motives whatever they were were the byproduct of Loughner’s clearly delusional view of the world.
There also was a second sickness on display, and it was the swiftness and the vigor with which the left-wing blogosphere and some more mainstream Democrats immediately sought to blame Sarah Palin and right-wing “vitriol” in general for the shooting.
Within minutes of the shooting being made known, two of the highest profile left-wing bloggers, Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos and Matthew Yglesias of Think Progress, pulled out a 10-month-old electoral map used at a Sarah Palin website showing almost two dozen congressional districts being targeted, including Giffords’ district. The map was similar to one used by the Democratic Leadership Committee to target Republicans in the prior election cycle, and as Howard Kurtz points out, simply typical of campaign rhetoric using military-themed language.
Markos explicitly accused Palin of having blood on her hands and Yglesias did so implicitly. Through retweets of this message and the map, the left-blogosphere (with some exceptions who took a wait-and-see attitude) took up the cudgel of turning this shooting to their political advantage. Think Progress ran updates with details on the Palin map and also an advertisement several months ago by Giffords’ congressional campaign opponent also using military terminology. But clearly, Palin has been the focus, with a larger attack on “right wing vitriol.”
Not surprisingly, Keith Olbermann — one of the most hateful television personalities who names a nightly “Worst Person In The World” — joined the chorus. Even The New York Times joined the fray, reporting on the Palin map in its initial coverage, and running a Paul Krugman blog post blaming right-wing rhetoric.
Numerous sources also are reporting that Judge John M. Roll, who was killed, had been the subject of threats because of an immigration ruling, but by all accounts Roll was not targeted and was at the event in a shopping area purely by coincidence. [Update: The Criminal Complaint filed this afternoon indicates Judge Roll intended to attend the event to speak with Giffords or her staff, but there is no indication Loughner would have known that.]
Yet not a single person pushing the blame-Palin line has offered a shred of evidence that Loughner ever saw Palin’s electoral map, was motivated by it, was right-wing (anectodally it appears Loughner was quite left-wing as of a few years ago), was motivated by right-wing radio, or did any of the things being assumed by the left-blogosphere, the mainstream media and some Democratic politicians.
Not a shred of evidence connecting Loughner to Palin, the Tea Parties, or the right wing, yet the left-blogosphere, mainstream media and Democratic politicians have erupted into a frenzy of name-calling directed at Palin and those who oppose Obama’s agenda.
Who knows what evidence will come forward in coming days, but based on what we know now, the attempt to blame Palin and opponents of Obama for the shooting is every bit as delusional as Loughner’s attempt to blame government mind control.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have seen this type of reaction. The meme that opponents of Obama are crazy and dangerous has been an explicit Democratic Party campaign strategy for over two years. Here is just a partial list of events in which the left-wing and Democratic Party media operation has immediately blamed right-wing rhetoric, only to be proven wrong when the facts finally came out: Bill Sparkman, Amy Bishop, The Fort Hood Shooter, The IRS Plane Crasher, The Cabbie Stabbing, and The Pentagon Shooter.
The facts will come out about the shooting and murder by Loughner. Until then, we’ll be subjected to the sickness of people who seek to use the crime to their political advantage and who will worry about the facts later on, if ever.
In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the deceased and those injured.
Update: Congresswoman Giffords took part in the reading of the Constitution on the floor of the House last week, an event which was denounced by the left-blogosphere and some Democrats as a stunt and a reflection of a fetish:
Interestingly, Think Progress posted this video on its YouTube channel back in November, of Democratic pollster (and former Hillary Clinton campaign manager) Mark Penn arguing that Obama needed “another Oklahoma City” in order to reconnect with the people:
The manner in which the left-wing is seeking to exploit this crime reflects an attempt to replicate the political success Bill Clinton had after the Oklahoma City bombing.
One veteran Democratic operative, who blames overheated rhetoric for the shooting, said President Barack Obama should carefully but forcefully do what his predecessor did.
“They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,” said the Democrat. “Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.”
Update No. 2 – Does Sheriff Clarence Dupnik Have No Shame? Dupnik’s press conference yesterday has been widely cited as proof that right-wing vitriol led to the killings was just interviewed by Meghan Kelly on FoxNews and for the first time was forced to commit as to whether he had any evidence that Loughner actually listened to or was influenced by such political rhetoric. Dupnik admitted “it’s just my opinion period” and that “I don’t have that information yet.” Videos at the link.