The shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the killing of several people by gunman Jared Loughner in Arizona yesterday has revealed two sicknesses.
The first and most serious is the sickness living in Loughner’s head. Evidence in the form of farewell videos, internet postings, and the recollections of people who knew him reveal a profoundly disturbed person who had veered far into a paranoid world. Loughner’s complaints about government mind control and other rants were not “anti-government” in any political sense, but anti-government or anarchist in the Ted Kazynski-deranged sense. We do not know Loughner’s motives, but those motives whatever they were were the byproduct of Loughner’s clearly delusional view of the world.
There also was a second sickness on display, and it was the swiftness and the vigor with which the left-wing blogosphere and some more mainstream Democrats immediately sought to blame Sarah Palin and right-wing “vitriol” in general for the shooting.
Within minutes of the shooting being made known, two of the highest profile left-wing bloggers, Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos and Matthew Yglesias of Think Progress, pulled out a 10-month-old electoral map used at a Sarah Palin website showing almost two dozen congressional districts being targeted, including Giffords’ district. The map was similar to one used by the Democratic Leadership
Committee to target Republicans in the prior election cycle, and as Howard Kurtz points out, simply typical of campaign rhetoric using military-themed language.
Markos explicitly accused Palin of having blood on her hands and Yglesias did so implicitly.
Through retweets of this message and the map, the left-blogosphere (with some exceptions who took a wait-and-see attitude) took up the cudgel of turning this shooting to their political advantage. Think Progress ran updates with details on the Palin map and also an advertisement several months ago by Giffords’ congressional campaign opponent also using military terminology. But clearly, Palin has been the focus, with a larger attack on “right wing vitriol.”
Not surprisingly, Keith Olbermann — one of the most hateful television personalities who names a nightly “Worst Person In The World” — joined the chorus. Even The New York Times joined the fray, reporting on the Palin map in its initial coverage, and running a Paul Krugman blog post blaming right-wing rhetoric. (Continues here)