We saw the same phenomenon following the Oklahoma City bombing and the Holocaust museum shooting when MSNBC hosts and liberal pundits blamed the incidents on radio talk show hosts. These exercises in blame-mongering inevitably run aground when inconvenient details muddle the "talk show hosts did it" mantra (e.g. Did radio talk show hosts tell the Holocaust museum shooter to target the conservative Weekly Standard offices?) The same is true in this incident. You can almost hear the disappointment from the left that he was a pothead rather than a Tea Partyer.
It is as noxious to associate Saturday's shooting with conservative campaign rhetoric, even that which is over-the-top, as it would be to claim that violence is the doing of those who labeled Tea Partyers un-American (as Democratic leaders did during the health-care debate) or of those who accuse senators of being unpatriotic (as a liberal newspaper columnist recently did). If a lunatic attacks a businessman, are we to blame Obama for vilifying the Chamber of Commerce? Was the attack on an Arkansas recruiting station the fault of anti-war liberal Democrats? Of course not. The impulse to blame political opponents for tragedy and to convert human misery into a political weapon -- both of which were played out on Twitter and the Internet by liberals as diverse as Paul Krugman, Jane Fonda, and the Daily Kos crowd -- is deeply regrettable. But it has unfortunately become par for the course.
...Or the Daily Beast's Ben Sarlin, who pens a long screed about how the real victims here are the Tea Party patriot groups who now fear violence will be directed at them...
Josh Trevino, a co-founder of Red State and a partner at consulting firm Rogue Strategic Services, said he had grown used to seeing conservatives under fire after similar incidents in the past, citing Mayor Bloomberg's speculation after an attempted Times Square bombing that the terrorist might have been motivated by the passage of health-care reform.
"It's happened before, it will happen again." he said. He added that he believed such claims were in part a coordinated political attack.
"There's a reason Democrats and the left do what they do in trying to blame Tea Parties and the right—they're out of ammo, so to speak. They were fairly comprehensively defeated in November," he said. "I wouldn't say it's a strategic reaction, but it's certainly a tactical reaction to these disadvantages."
...Or right wing radio host Jon Justice, who is demanding Pima County, Arizona's Sherriff Clarence Dupnik step down for his comments on rhetoric last night...
Right-wing radio host Jon Justice, who is on KQTH FM 104.1 in Arizona, has called for Dupnik's resignation and taken issue with the sheriff's singling-out of talk radio.
"To say, as Dupnik did, that comments made on the airwaves essentially motivated this person to commit this crime is exactly what he blamed talk radio of doing, inciting through pure rhetoric," Justice said in a statement to Tucson Weekly. "It was complete misuse of his power and he owes the media in town, TV and radio, an apology for his horrible comments in the middle of such a tragic day. He should step down immediately from his position as Pima County Sheriff."
...Or Tea Party Nation leader Judson Philips, who is blaming liberals for Saturday's assassination attempt.
TPN founder Judson Phillips, in an article linked off the e-mail "The shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and the left's attack on the Tea Party movement," described the shooter as "a leftist lunatic" and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik as a "leftist sheriff" who "was one of the first to start in on the liberal attack." Phillips urged tea party supporters to blame liberals for the attack on centrist Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who was shot through the head and is now fighting for her life, as a means of defending the tea party movement's recent electoral gains.
"The hard left is going to try and silence the Tea Party movement by blaming us for this," he wrote. Clinton used the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing to "blame conservative talk radio, especially Rush Limbaugh" and "The tactic worked then, backing conservatives off and possibly helping to ensure a second Clinton term."
"The left is coming and will hit us hard on this. We need to push back harder with the simple truth. The shooter was a liberal lunatic. Emphasis on both words," he wrote.
And you will continue to hear this in the day, weeks, and months ahead. If you criticize the Tea Party, you are only contributing to the climate of victimization of these poor, voiceless, powerless souls. How dare you say anything bad about them. You're not allowed. And if you do, God help you. The narrative is already being written, the facts are already being made concrete, the familiar themes are already being blasted out into the airwaves again.
When this happens again, the process will be repeated.
It is possible to say "enough of this violent rhetoric". I said it before this massacre happened. It's even more valid now.
And no, it's not the same.