I think it might be time to stop writing about the coverage, not because I’m bored with it or because there’s nothing left to say, but because I simply can’t achieve the Loughnerian dream state required to cope with “the facts.”
Should she have ended her video right after her expression of sympathy? After all, isn’t today about the victims, not the debate? Then again, if she didn’t address the debate swirling around her target map she might just as quickly have been accused of ducking the tough questions.
BOTTOM LINE: Sarah Palin, once again, has found a way to become part of the story. And she may well face further criticism for the timing and scope of her remarks. She is already taking heat for her use of the term “blood libel” (see today’s Tweets). In her video she notes, “President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process.” It remains to be seen exactly what Obama will say tonight, but White House aides say another goal of his address will be to lift the nation up in this moment, not sully it with politics.
A useful research project would be to go back through Twitter’s archives and find out not only which liberals were the first to toss Palin’s name out in connection with the shootings, but precisely how long it took them to do so after the cable nets first broke in with the news. As I recall, people like Kos were pointing to her crosshairs map within minutes; it took EMTs 38 minutes to get Giffords from the scene of the shooting to the operating table at the hospital, which means Palin may well have been “part of the story” before its most famous victim had even been placed on a stretcher. With, to repeat for the umpteen thousandth time, no evidence whatsoever to believe that Loughner had been influenced by her in any way. Four solid days of insane demagoguery about her phantom role in a mass murder, and not a word in her own defense until this morning.
And yet, as I write this, CBS is accusing her of … playing the victim.
But — follow the leftist logic here — Loughner is not a Tea Partier, or a conservative, or even right leaning at all. This proves that not only can our provocations influence our own crazies (which is 60% of us, to hear them talk) but in fact are so potent they can even drive those who don’t listen to us to kill.
Do you see that next argument taking shape? Taking shape? Having taken shape, I should say, past perfect. Krugman and all the rest of them, having called this as a deranged right-winger (and been proven wrong) simply make their argument more all-encompassing. They’re no longer arguing that right-wing invective can have an unbalanacing effect on right-wingers who hear it.
Their new argument is that right-wing invective can have an unbalancing effect on non-right-wingers — left-wingers, even — who don’t hear it.
That’s how insidious this all is. That’s how dangerous this all is. Right wing chatter can now drive left-wingers who don’t even hear it to kill people.
Voodoo, the same way sticking a doll with a pin can inflict pain on someone a thousand miles away. When Palin slapped the crosshairs on Giffords’s district, Loughner somehow just knew and reacted. No proof of real-world cause and effect needed. That’s one of the two big takeaways from the left’s reaction to all this — that in a pinch, if the narrative requires right-wing culpability, magical thinking is acceptable. The other big takeaway actually doesn’t have to do with Palin, even though I think many of her supporters want this story to be mainly about her and how badly she’s been smeared. She has been egregiously smeared, to be sure, but her “role” in the shootings isn’t the grand lie. The grand lie is the left/media professing to care remotely about the “tone of political discourse” while spending four days doing everything it could to make it worse. Instant politicization of a massacre, smear after smear about who’s to blame, total amnesia about their own chill attitude towards the vicious demonization of Bush and his circle for years, and every bit of it surreally accompanied by hand-wringing about improving “the dialogue.” Magical thinking — and yet, supposedly, “reality-based.” That’s where we’re at after four days of stomping on our allegedly fragile national debate.
Update: As usual, even in a post that’s as clearly and overwhelmingly a defense of Palin as this one is, some of her supporters want to accuse me of being unfair to her or her fans. The offending line, supposedly, is “many of her supporters want this story to be mainly about her.” By which, of course, I meant the story of the left’s ridiculous demagoguery over the past four days, not the story of the shootings themselves. My point (and Ace’s point) is that, while Palin has been smeared the worst, the voodoo logic being employed liberals is aimed at delegitimizing all conservatives as their agenda requires, not just her. Thought that was clear, but I guess not.