Not even when there’s a reelection battle to be waged? I was going to write about former Rep. Paul Kanjorski surreally calling for civility in the NYT today after having casually suggested that the new Republican governor of Florida should be shot during the campaign, but Nick Gillespie’s already all over that. Let me focus instead on an even more prominent Democrat. Read today’s piece from the BBC, then read this Byron York post from last year summarizing Clinton’s strategy sessions with Dick Morris after the Oklahoma City bombing. We pick up the story on April 27, 1995, after Morris has handed him an agenda list which includes, as its third item, “Permanent possible gain: sets up Extremist Issue vs. Republicans.”

Later, under the heading “How to use extremism as issue against Republicans,” Morris told Clinton that “direct accusations” of extremism wouldn’t work because the Republicans were not, in fact, extremists. Rather, Morris recommended what he called the “ricochet theory.” Clinton would “stimulate national concern over extremism and terror,” and then, “when issue is at top of national agenda, suspicion naturally gravitates to Republicans.” As that happened, Morris recommended, Clinton would use his executive authority to impose “intrusive” measures against so-called extremist groups. Clinton would explain that such intrusive measures were necessary to prevent future violence, knowing that his actions would, Morris wrote, “provoke outrage by extremist groups who will write their local Republican congressmen.” Then, if members of Congress complained, that would “link right-wing of the party to extremist groups.” The net effect, Morris concluded, would be “self-inflicted linkage between [GOP] and extremists.”…

It was a political strategy crafted while rescue and recovery efforts were still underway in Oklahoma City. And it worked better than Clinton or Morris could have predicted. In the months after the bombing, Clinton regained the upper hand over Republicans, eventually winning battles over issues far removed from the attack. The next year, 1996, he went on to re-election. None of that might have happened had Clinton, along with Morris, not found a way to wring as much political advantage as possible out of the deaths in Oklahoma City. And that is the story you’re not hearing in all the anniversary discussions.

Frame the issue so that suspicion “naturally gravitates to Republicans.” How far we’ve come, my friends. (How did Dick Morris end up as a conservative pundit in good standing, anyway?) In that same vein, here’s Ace writing about that ridiculous Newsweek article I posted on earlier. A la Morris, if you can’t actually connect the dots, let the dots … “gravitate” together:

JackStraw notices them doing this on Hardball; I’ve been noticing it too. This is the new normal of “journalism.” Which JackStraw describes as:

“This is the new technique. Don’t explicitly connect the dots, just put the dots an inch apart and let the viewer connect them”…

Newsweek’s and Matthew’s viewers don’t show up for the truth or facts; they show up for leftist talking points. Now, both of these having pretenses of journalistic enterprises, they cannot simply lie directly. So they don’t. They just, as JackStraw says, put two dots thisclose to each other and let their hyperpartisan audiences fill them in.

And, if the public begins to subconsciously associate the two together through the cute use of Loughner’s picture under headlines about “right-wing extremism,” so much the better.

As a gloss on this, two clips on the shootings from last night’s Stewart and Colbert shows. They could have gone full demagogue on the right — they are, after all, liberal icons — but both refused to lay blame, whether out of simple decency (or “sanity”) or because, as media critics first and foremost, maybe even they can’t believe what they’ve seen over the past three days. Stewart makes a good point that occurred to me too over the weekend as a contributing factor to the “blame conservatives” narrative — namely, that it’s comforting to think rhetoric might have caused this because rhetoric is something under our individual control. That’s an undercurrent of 9/11 Truth too: If Bush blew up the towers, then the problem is solved once Bush is gone. But if it’s Al Qaeda, or a bug-eyed nut whose oddness extends only to strange theories about grammer until the day it takes a dark turn, oh boy. No control at all. Terrifying.

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