Translation: “Sorry for actually saying out loud what my party’s been implying all week.”

“It’s so sad, because it’s diminishing to the process, it’s diminishing to our outcome,” Lincoln said in a conference call with reporters. “I think it’s sad that they choose to do that. I think it’s un-American and disrespectful.”

A few hours later, Lincoln issued the following statement: “Although I do believe that some of these protesters are disrespectful of other citizens in the audience who truly want to ask questions about health care, I shouldn’t have used the term ‘un-American.’ I support the right of every Arkansan to speak out and have their voices heard. I would just ask that we all continue to work in a constructive way to rebuild our economy and fine-tune out health care system so it works for all of us.”…

Also in the audience Wednesday was Bob Porto, an organizer with the Pulaski County Tea Party. Porto said local Tea Party leaders discouraged members from attending because they believed Arkansas Children’s Hospital was not the proper venue…

“I think we are seeing people who feel that their expression, or their ability to communicate, isn’t being heard, so they’re doing what they can to be heard,” he said.

Cited in this same piece as smoking-gun evidence of a top-down Republican astroturf campaign: The memo debunked by Mary Katharine Ham 27 hours ago. Sigh. Exit question: Is Lincoln’s retreat a sign that the backlash to the left’s demagoguery is now in full swing? Foolproof though it may seem, calling your constituents Nazis actually isn’t a surefire path to reelection. Claire McCaskill politely disagreed with the Democratic brain trust about astroturfing earlier on Twitter and Ben Cardin took a politic line on the subject when pressed this afternoon by Fox News. I’d be surprised if Reid and Pelosi are still tossing grenades tomorrow.