1. I am wrestling myself to the ground to avoid making any assumptions about the shooting this morning (about three miles from my home in Alexandria, Virginia) of two Republican Congressmen and an aide while the GOP baseball team was practicing for tomorrow’s annual Congressional baseball game for charity. When Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot (and a judge killed, among others) in Tucson, Arizona, the news media, pundits and Democrats leaped to blame Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh for so-called “eliminationist rhetoric,” defined in Palin’s case as using cross-hairs on an electoral map to indicate which Democrats could be defeated in 2012—you know, as in “he’s in my cross-hairs.” This was a transparent effort to stifle political speech. In 1995, when a Federal building in Oklahoma City was blown up in a domestic terrorist attack, “violent anti-government” rhetoric from the Right was also blamed, though there was no evidence that Timothy McVeigh would not have done exactly the same thing if political discourse had been all John Lennon and rainbows.
The Giffords explanation was cynical and contrived; the Oklahoma City response a bit less so, but in neither of those cases were violent imagery and hateful language (no party officials and member of Congress used “fuck” back then, late night TV hosts were largely apolitical and couldn’t call Presidents “cockholsters” without being fired, the “resistance” in 1995 consisted of fringe militia groups, not recent unsuccessful Presidential candidates with a large following, and nobody was giving standing ovations to Central Park theatrical productions showing a doppleganger of the President of the United States being assassinated. In other words, if Rush Limbaugh had held up a prop bloody head of Barack Obama prior to Giffords’ shooting, I would not have derided the critics who argued that irresponsible partisan rhetoric was at least part of the cause. But he didn’t. Nobody did. Nobody would have thought of doing so. Then.
So when my wife told me, the second I woke up, about the shooting this morning, my immediate thought was, “I wonder who the shooter is, an illegal immigrant, a Muslim, or a member of “the resistance?” This was unfair, and I knew it. The shooter might have been, as it was in Tucson, a wacko. It might have been moral luck that it was the Republican baseball team that was attacked and not the Democrats, just as it was moral luck that nobody was killed.
Right wing blog JWF wrote, “We blame the liberal climate of hate.” That is irresponsible, since we don’t know who was the shooter (yet) or why he shot. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) told Fox News , “There was a guy that walked up to us that was asking whether it was Republicans or Democrats out there, and it was just a little odd.” No, it’s not odd at all. If I saw what I knew was a Congressional team practicing, I’d ask the same question.
If the attack had nothing to do with the “liberal climate of hate,” however, that does not mean that the liberal climate of hate isn’t real, dangerous, and despicable.
2. It is astounding to me that so many Democrats deny that there is a liberal (progressive, really) climate of hate. When I wrote yesterday that one of the reasons the President felt compelled to produce the embarrassing “we love you” segment of the Cabinet meeting was that he justifiably feels like he is being subjected to unprecedented hate and disrespect from the news media. A commenter (whom I know to be an astute and usually fair political observer), commented that this was blaming Trump’s conduct on the liberal media conspiracy theory. First of all, I didn’t and don’t blame the media, I blame the President. It’s his Cabinet. I do blame the news media for creating an environment where no leader can do his best work, and this leader especially. How anyone can watch what we’ve watched (on CNN, notably) and read what we’ve read (in the New York times and Washington Post, virtually every day) and sincerely deny the deliberate attempt by the news media to undermine President Trump by any means necessary is a mystery to me. I do not understand it. Until all citizens demand that the news media stop allying itself with one party and stop using their influence to distort the news in order to influence public opinion, this will not stop.
And yes, I blame smart and usually ethical Democrats, progressives and liberals for allowing this threat to continue. Obviously journalists themselves are responsible, but the biased enablers make it easy for them. As long as they feel they have an approving market for their distortions, they will keep distorting.
I am appealing to the integrity of my many progressive friends.
I know it’s there.
3. In a related matter, here is why you can’t trust Matt Drudge. His headline, as I write this:
GUNMAN: ‘KILL AS MANY REPUBLICANS AS POSSIBLE’
Wow! A quote from the gunman confirming that this was a partisan hit!
Well, no. It’s a lie, and”fake news.”Follow the link, and we learn that Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) told NBC News that it appeared the “gunman was there to kill as many Republican members as possible.” In other words, that was what it looked like to him.