Is this offensive? I ask that in all earnestness because, after this week, I don’t know what the rules are for political speech anymore. I thought “cracker” was a mild slur for whites, but then I also thought that joking about hanging Joe Lieberman in effigy must be over the line as an impermissible violent metaphor — and evidently I was waaay wrong about that. So, I guess this is cool now. Life brings us new lessons every day, my friends.

Two clips for you here, one of Matthews on “crackers” and the other, via the Daily Caller, of Pat Buchanan ironically wondering whether this week’s smearapalooza of Palin and her crosshairs map isn’t just the left’s version of Birtherism. Ace is right about Matthews’s reaction: Watch as he instantly moves the goalposts from the core assertion after the shooting, that Palin or other conservatives had somehow inspired Loughner to kill, to the more grounded assertion that violent rhetoric is problematic on its own terms. Some Birthers do that too when challenged, shifting from claims that either there is no birth certificate or that the information on it will contradict Obama’s biography to more mild claims of “well, why doesn’t he just release it?” But then, let’s remember who we’re talking about here — a guy who’s running chyrons describing Palin as being “On The Lam” and whose network is airing graphics of Loughner’s insane mugshot alongside the tagline “Power of Words.” For cripes sake, they won’t even show Republican presidents in the promos they’ve cut from archival footage of various State of the Union speeches. Be happy Matthews hasn’t blamed 9/11 on Palin. Yet. Click the image to watch.