Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Tucson:
Did it stem from state of political discourse?

From Sandhya Somashekhar of The Washington Post on Jan. 9:
No information had yet been released about the man implicated in the mass shooting that wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) before pundits and activists across the political spectrum identified the culprit: The sad state of political discourse in America.

Liberals were quick to blame the tea party movement and the sometimes-militant rhetoric employed by its standard-bearers. On Twitter, activists repeatedly referred to the remarks of Sharron Angle (R), the unsuccessful Senate candidate in Nevada, who last year advocated "second-amendment remedies" to some of the nation's problems. And they noted the map posted by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R), who depicted crosshairs over the states where she hoped to oust Democratic incumbents.

As details emerged about the alleged gunman and his erratic views, however, the tea party responded.

"If we ever needed an official political obituary to political civility in this country, we've seen it," said Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation. "The facts weren't even out there, Rep. Giffords had been carted away in a stretcher, we didn't even know her condition, but the war had already started. The folks on the hard left were already out there blaming the tea party."

Turns out the politics espoused by the alleged gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, are difficult to pin down. A Jared Loughner lists on his YouTube channel Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto among his favorite books, but his views are difficult to decipher from his videos - and it is not clear if he is the same man implicated in the shooting.

That Giffords was targeted by a tea partier was an easy assumption to make considering her historical clashes with the movement. A moderate Democrat, she had been vilified by some conservatives for her opposition to her state's aggressive crackdown on illegal immigrants and for her support for the health-care overhaul.

When asked by The New York Post on Saturday if his daughter had any enemies, Giffords's father, Spencer Giffords responded, "Yeah...The whole tea party."


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