The American people know it, too. According to a USA Today/Gallup poll released Wednesday, 42 percent of those asked said that political rhetoric was not a factor at all in the shooting, 22 percent said that it was a minor factor and 20 percent said that it was a major factor. Furthermore, most agreed that focusing on conservative rhetoric as a link in the shooting was “not a legitimate point but mostly an attempt to use the tragedy to make conservatives look bad.” And nearly an equal number of people said that Republicans, the Tea Party and Democrats had all “gone too far in using inflammatory language” to criticize their opponents.
Great. So the left overreacts and overreaches and it only accomplishes two things: fostering sympathy for its opponents and nurturing a false equivalence within the body politic. Well done, Democrats.
My wife and I have been able to drive to work together most of this week. She is a registered Democrat and has been for all of her (voting) life. I listen to NPR for the entire one hour drive to work (yeah, it’s a cross I bear). About Wednesday, when NPR was moaning, yet again, about the political rhetoric from the right causing the shootings in Arizona, she said something to the effect of, “Enough! The guy is a loon, political rhetoric has nothing to do with it.”
I think that is probably very close to the reaction of a lot of people, judging from the polling numbers.
I disagree with Charles Blow on many of his assertions in his column. (The toxicity of the left’s political rhetoric is much, much worse than most of what is coming from the right.) But I will credit him with admitting that the left did itself a huge disservice by trying to tar and feather Sarah Palin and the right over the acts of a madman.
There is an expression that someone I hired for a consultation used that fits here. He called the knee-jerk reactions that some in management have when a problem arises “going prompt tactical”. He explained that as a manager losing sight of the big picture and immediately getting down into the mud to do something that was strategically foolish. (It’s a good way to explain a lot of really bad decisions.)
Blow is honest enough to realize that the left’s going prompt tactical here was a really bad idea.
UPDATE: James Taranto.