Free Markets, Free People

Political opportunism never lets a crisis go to waste

I continue to be incredulous of the blatant political opportunism this shooting of Rep. Giffords has unleashed on the left. OK, not really. But in a way, it is the Paul Wellstone memorial all over again on a national level.

First, all of this angst over political rhetoric is so overwrought and overblown as to be laughable.  There has never been a time in the history of this land that the language hasn’t been rough or partisan.  Never.  Pretending this is the worst it has ever been is simply historically inaccurate.  It may be more obvious now because of mass communications and the democratization of opinion, but it isn’t at all any different than it ever has been.  Folks, do a little digging in the history books.  Hell, use Google. I’m not going to do you homework for you, but trust me on this – this era isn’t any better or worse than the vast majority of the rest of them.

Secondly, the entire premise of those calling for the toning down of the rhetoric originally was that it was the cause on the attack on Giffords.  Now it is becoming more and more apparent that isn’t the case.  But it provides such an opportunity for the left to demonize the right that the talking heads and political advisors continue to make that point even while they walk it back a little with a disclaimer about this guy being a nut.   It now goes something like “we must ratchet the vitriol and rhetoric down, even if this guy wasn’t a right wing nut influenced by it”.



Right now the only reason they can come up with is “it could happen”.  When they first started harping on this nonsense, soon after the shooting, you got the impression that the left was 99.9% sure this guy was a right-wing militia member or something.  As it turns out he was the .01% loon instead.  But that hasn’t slowed down the messaging has it?

And, as I mentioned in another post, political strategists see this as a golden opportunity for the president to speak out on something that didn’t occur.  Oh, forget the last part of that – we’ll pretend it did to give Obama’s forthcoming words some sort of foundation of relevance.  One of those political strategists who are enamored with the opportunity is the odious Paul Begala:

Paul Begala, one of Clinton’s top political advisers during the 1990s, thinks Obama has a genuine opportunity to re-define the nation’s political debate – a promise he first made in his breakout 2004 speech to the Democratic convention —and reclaim moral high ground lost during the last two years of intense partisan combat.

“One of the things I learned from Oklahoma City is not to rush to judgment…We don’t know this Arizona animal’s motive,” said Begala.

But almost irrespective of that, it wouldn’t hurt for all of us to tone things down a bit – myself included. If the President uses this tragedy to challenge us all to move to higher ground, it would be a welcome message. And if the right tries to demonize him for doing that, they will look small and petty and extreme.” [emphasis mine]

Begala learned “not to rush to judgment” in the OK City tragedy?  Did he really?  So why is he doing it now by attempting to tie political rhetoric (“tone things down a bit”) to the shooting in Tucson (the reason for any speech Obama might make)? 

Well in reality I guess he doesn’t.  Note the “but almost irrespective of that” phrase.  He’s saying, hey it really doesn’t matter if the dream scenario didn’t play out (right winger shoots left wing pol), this is still a great opportunity for the President to pull a Bill Clinton and demonize the right (although he doesn’t say that specifically, that’s precisely what Clinton did – Limbaugh and the militias were the bad guys then) and connect with the people (which he sorely needs to do).  And, of course, if the right fights back, well “they will look small and petty”?

What if the right fights back by throwing the facts of the case (loon, not right winger, shot Giffords not because of rhetoric, but because he’s a loon) in the President’s face and standing firmly on 1st Amendment grounds to resist the call to curb political speech, Mr. Begala?  Who’ll look rather diminished then, sir?

Begala’s not the only operative salivating on the chance to capitalize on this tragedy:

Veteran Democratic consultant Dan Gerstein said the crisis “really plays to Obama’s strengths as consensus-builder” and gives him the opportunity to build a deeper emotional connection with the people he governs.

“He’ll be active, but also very careful not to appear like he’s blaming or politicizing,” Gerstein predicted.

Since when has Obama yet demonstrated he is a “consensus-builder?”  On what?  And when in his last two years hasn’t he “blamed” or “politicized” just about everything?  If I hear anything more about his “predecessor” or about what he “inherited” I’ll puke.   If Gerstein is Obama’s consultant, it isn’t at all difficult to understand why Obama is in trouble.  Gerstein obviously has Obama mixed up with someone else.

Gerstein goes on:

“The biggest question about him is strength – can he be a strong leader? This tragedy will give him an opportunity to answer that question and build a closer emotional connection with the middle of the electorate that sees this as a reflection of something disturbing about our politics.”

I can answer that question – making a speech about a shooting and calling for toned down rhetoric and less partisanship (while having use heated rhetoric, blaming and blatant partisanship) does not make someone a leader, Mr. Gerstein.  It doesn’t make him a strong leader or a weak leader or even a mediocre leader.  Leadership is about action, decisions and consequences.   It isn’t a passive word as folks like Gerstein seem to think.

Will it help him “connect” with the middle of the electorate?  Have his speeches in the past done so?  Sure, when he was a total unknown, his words were pretty, inspiring and hopeful.  But now the “middle of the electorate” know him much better and he has an actual record of 2 years.  Pretty and high-minded speeches aren’t going to impress anyone anymore.

The rest of the POLITICO article discusses the similarities and differences between Tucson and Oklahoma City as well as the differences between Clinton and Obama.  But here is the nut of the premise that the left is trying to lay on the right at the moment:

And Clinton has made clear he believes that the trend he identified in the 1990s – the connection between radical speech and violent deeds – still exists.

Even though Timothy McVeigh explicitly cited Waco as his reason for bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City, this premise continues to exist as if it has been proven.  Yet, again, when the violence is cited and radical speech blamed, we find little to convince us that there’s any connection.  The nutcase that shot Giffords dreamed up his own reasons for going after her it seems, independent of anyone else’s rhetoric.

How inconvenient for those who would love to shut us up.

Clinton said in an oped during the time of the OK City bombing:

“Civic virtue can include harsh criticism, protest, even civil disobedience. But not violence or its advocacy,”

I don’t think any reasoning person on the right disagrees with that statement.  What they will disagree with is what constitutes “advocacy” for violence.

Well, here’s a clue – it’s not crosshairs on a political map.  If one can reasonably deduce what that means in context with a political campaign, you understand without a second thought that it is a metaphorical device.  So are may other terms.  But the left is attacking that in the normal contextless and disingenuous way they do their business:

A key ally, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), for example, explicitly called out Palin for injecting gun imagery into politics, arguing that her use of crosshairs over districts – including Giffords’ — in an email pitch to SarahPAC supporters incited violence.

“We live in a world of violent images … the phrase ‘don’t retreat, reload’ — putting crosshairs on congressional districts as targets … they invite the unstable,” Durbin told Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

Our political speech should not be held hostage by the “unstable”.  And this latest nut is a perfect example of the point.  It appears he was not swayed by anything to do with political speech by anyone but Giffords.  He was obsessed with her and for all we know, he got his orders to shoot her from the chicken pot pie he ate the night before.

Durbin’s nonsense notwithstanding, we cannot and must not make ourselves hostages to what could happen if some nut decides to take something literally.   There is a difference between a random nutball deciding for whatever reason to do something and a movement that advocates violence as a solution to political problem.  We must not bow to the pressure to accommodate the former by denying our free speech and we must not accept the latter as a solution to anything.  But what we can’t do is lump the former with the latter and just curb our speech “in case” it might set one of the nuts off.  That’s precisely what Durbin and his ilk are suggesting.

Yeah, I know, what, 4 posts in and around the subject?  Can you tell it hacks me off?  I’m disgusted by the cold-blooded opportunism, I’m aghast at the concerted attempt to limit speech and I’m just pissed that anyone would calculate any sort of political win out of an obvious tragedy.

But then, I’m talking about the left here and nothing they do surprises me anymore.



22 Responses to Political opportunism never lets a crisis go to waste

  • Veteran Democratic consultant Dan Gerstein said the crisis “really plays to Obama’s strengths as consensus-builder” and gives him the opportunity to build a deeper emotional connection with the people he governs.

    Whatever that jackass is drinking, I want some…with soda (out of respect for my brain cells).
    Talk about “vapor-ware”…!!!  This nation was sold a HUGE lie.  There is now no question about Obama as a “consensus-builder”…except that the nation is coming to the consensus we want him gone.

    • This nation was sold a HUGE lie.

      Well, that lie was (should have been) readily obvious to anyone beyond puberty, and 52% of the voters bought it, hook, line and sinker.

  • “Civic virtue can include harsh criticism, protest, even civil disobedience. But not violence or its advocacy,”

    Everybody see the implicit lie in that statement?
    Somebody needs to make him recite what “advocacy” to violence he means…
    Now, I can recite MANY, MANY times Collectivists advocate violence…and practice it, too.

  • Durbin’s nonsense notwithstanding, we cannot and must not make ourselves hostages to what could happen if some nut decides to take something literally.

    Right, McQ!!!!!   Or, as I said Sunday morning

    Americans who want our borders secure are not bigots.  We are not anti-government ticking time-bombs for wanting our government to be limited according to the Constitution.  We are the calm, rational people who produce the wealth of this nation, and from whom the taxes are extracted.  We are the people who pray for the recovery of the victims of this demented killer, and who mourn the dead without a political thought or motive in our heads.  We MUST simply speak those truths to our friends and neighbors, and counter the hyenas of the Collective.

    We can’t let their lies silence us.

  • Yeah, we were totally non-violent and devoid of rhetoric, it’s only recently, caused by Beck and Limbaugh, and brought on by the criminal actions of President BOOOOOSSSSH.
    Then again….
    I wonder if they suggested shortening or doing away with canes after this?
    Maybe they proposed laws to keep the House members away from the Senate?
    Probably wanted to ban political rhetoric speech too?
    Damn Teapartier!  On the floor of the Senate no less.
    I’ll bet Glen Beck’s ancestor egged him and Sarah Palin’s ancestor probably sold him the cane.

  • I like another one of Coulter’s rules on this one: If you want to know what the Left is up to pay attention to what they are accusing you of.

    • This is not a trivial coincidence.
      When you go to call them out for what they are actually the only ones doing, it makes you sound like you’re doing a reflexive counter insult of “oh, yeah!  You too!”.
      Its gotta be in the guidebook.  It happens too often to be a coincidence.

  • Jonathan Alter ..

    Conservatives like to argue that these are isolated incidents carried out by lunatics and therefore carry no big lessons (unless the perpetrator is Muslim, in which case it’s terrorism); liberals view them as opportunities to address various social ills. Obama is in the latter category and should act accordingly. “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Rahm Emanuel famously said in 2008. The same goes for a shooting spree that gravely wounds a beloved congresswoman. Congress won’t enact gun control, as it did in the wake of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, but perhaps something positive can come from this.

    Yes, Virginia … this is plain old crass politicial opportunism

  • In the car today, every single channel (except the Christian ones) were talking about this. From Michael Savage to NPR.
    So, I had to learn about Jesus and the Samaritans.

  • I also think the Left has no idea how angry they and the MSM are making people since 2008.
    NPR had a smug guest on saying that before, the MSM would be “people you knew” but now, the internet and talk radio lets the extremist fringe broadcast their message and seem bigger than they are.
    Isn’t that rich that NPR says that? LOL. Dude check the mirror!

  • I’ll say it again– if they want to blame political rhetoric on the right for leading to assaults like this one on Rep. Giffords, then they have to be consistent and blame all Muslims for the hateful, violent rhetoric that fuels suicide bombers around the world.  If it’s unfair to blame a group for the words and actions of a relative minority, then it must be unfair (and frankly, illogical) to blame a group for the actions of one individual who apparently doesn’t even subscribe to the ideologies of that group.  If the left attempts to pin this on the Tea Party, well… what happened the last time they tried to disparage them?  They took aim and fired… via the ballot box.

    • Nevermind that.  How about freaking calling out AL SHARPTON?   If you want to talk about “incitement” then WHITE INTERLOPERS sure fits the bill.

      But this guy is respected and listened to in the party.

  • This just gets more and more outrageous.  How sick are the democrats that they have been HOPING for an “Oklahoma City” so that The Dear Golfer can make a speech and show us how f*cking wonderful he is???  How sick are the democrats that they deliberately, openly exploit a tragedy for political benefit???  How sick are the democrats that their focus is on how they can blame their political opponents for a crime rather than on helping the victims, investigating the culprit(s), and punishing the guilty???

    The democrats were openly wishing for a tragedy months ago and didn’t miss a beat in rushing to exploit it when it happened.  It’s like the press releases and stories were written and ready to be filed: just fill in a couple of names and a body count and publish.

    Anybody want to bet when Michael Moore will win the Palm d’Or at Cannes for “Fahrenheit 1-08?”  Or when Rosie O’Donnel will assure us that 9mm bullets won’t penetrate skulls (“It was Sarah Palin with her moose rifle!!!!”)?  Or the Senate will convene a special investigation into the Tucson shooting with an eye to finding out “what did the president know and when did he know it?”  Or when the local bookstore will be chock-a-block with books about the vast right-wing conspiracy behind the attempted murder of Gabby Giffords?  “The Chronicles of the Elders of Palin”, anyone?

    I didn’t think it possible for me to have more disgust and contempt for democrats than I had before, but I have to say that their behavior in the past few days makes me question their HUMANITY and not just their intelligence or morality.  These people are insane in the same loathesome manner than nazis and klansmen are insane.

    • They’ll take any tragedy they can latch on to – they need something to let Dear Vactioning Golfer look like a leader in a time of crisis, and they need the magic handle they can grab hold of the rest of the country by to shake them into another round of progressive saviorism.

      I sorely wish they’d stop, because he’s not a leader, and never will be, no matter how much crisis they trot through the Oval office for him to make stern faces over.  The Democrats are Cubs fans – with the small change for Obama “Wait til the next crisis!”

  • Hate mongers like Olbermann, Maddow, Ward Churchill, Bill Ayres, Rev. Wright/Fr. Flaugher, Cynthia McKinney, half the liberal arts professors, etc?
    What we have here is a “Conflict of Visions”.

  • If I remember correctly, the first cross-hair was used by a MSM channel for a run-up segment on Bush – let the investigations begin 🙂

    Tom Brokaw says “taking aim…………and then mumbles something about Bush’s new Star Wars initiative…..

  • Left unsaid is that the “Democrats and Obama” aren’t the only ones that can seize on the event.
    Once the dust has cleared a bit, Obama will make his case, but afterward Palin gets to make her’s.
    This tragic set of events has unleashed a political “Rorschach test” on our “unbiased” media, and Palin will get to give the results of the test.