Fools rush in to define Giffords tragedy politically
Even before the blood had dried in the Safeway parking lot in Tucson, both sides and the media were attempting to paint the tragedy of the shooting of Rep. Giffords and other innocent bystanders in a way that boosted (or defended) whatever agenda talking point they wished to advance.
Politicization of an event – any event – that political advocates, activists or politicians see as useful is almost instant anymore. And make no mistake about it – what has been done from the beginning is to politicize this shooting (and that includes the Sheriff of Pima County AZ). Doing so has almost become standard operating procedure. Well that and demanding the event not be politicized. And then, in the post mortem, arguing about which side politicized it first.
Any long time observer of politics, especially in this day of mass communication, knows the speed by which information and opinion move. They also know that those who try to shape opinion have learned they must move quickly in order to see information shaped as they’d prefer to see it.
Of course, in the case of Rep. Giffords, one meme immediately surfaced – "vitriol" as a generic reason was cited as the cause – as in "political vitriol". The unstated (for the most part, at least immediately) source of that vitriol was supposed to be understood by knowing the political party of the victim. Reports were sure to stress "Democratic" Representative Giffords as the one shot.
This before the shooter had even been identified. And I can promise you, cold-blooded political strategists were sizing up the "opportunity" to see how much political throw-weight it had for their issue, agenda or politician.
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.”
Note that this operative couldn’t care less if it really was "overheated rhetoric" or the fault of the Tea Party. That’s the farthest thing from his mind. It is a political opportunity to take advantage of a tragedy to "deftly pin" something outrageous on a political enemy. He, or she, obviously counsels taking advantage of the opportunity.
Another Democratic strategist said the similarity is that Tucson and Oklahoma City both “take place in a climate of bitter and virulent rhetoric against the government and Democrats.”
This Democrat said that the time had come to insist that Republicans stand up when, for example, a figure such as Fox News commentator Glenn Beck says something incendiary.
So very quickly, without any proof, this became the equivalent of the Oklahoma City tragedy (something which has yet to be proven to have anything to do with virulent rhetoric – McVeigh said it was because of Waco) and it is the job of Republicans to stop it. Just as Rush Limbaugh was named as a cause of Oklahoma City, the new bête noir of the left, Glenn Beck, is automatically fingered as the reason for this tragedy. Right out of the playbook.
“Today we have seen the results” of “irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric,” former Democratic senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart wrote on Huffington Post. “Those with a megaphone, whether provided by public office or a media outlet, have responsibilities. They cannot avoid the consequences of their blatant efforts to inflame, anger, and outrage.”
Nonsense. There was absolutely no proof at the time Hart wrote his piece that the shooter was motivated by “irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric”. In fact, I’d suggest the most irresponsible rhetoric I saw was from those such as Gary Hart who immediately jumped to that conclusion without knowing much at all about the shooter. Obviously there are responsibilities for those “with a megaphone.” Ironically Hart most expertly demonstrates how not to fulfill those responsibilities and be exactly what he denounced – irresponsible.
Everyone needs to calm down and quit trying to pin the blame on the other side and take the time to find out the real motivation of the shooter before going off half cocked. To paraphrase a famous quote about cigars, sometimes a nut is just a nut. In the future I’d like to see us take a moment, let the information develop and then make conclusions based in fact vs. this new and continuing tendency to jump into something driven by ideology and immediately try to shape the argument to fit the agenda.
It makes those who do that look like the fools they are.