For what it’s worth. A commenter in Headlines jokes, “Hey, isn’t Sarah Palin’s husband an independent?”
Loughner registered to vote on Sept. 29, 2006, identifying himself as an independent. Records show he voted in the 2006 and 2008 elections but is current listed as “inactive” on the state’s voter roles — meaning that he did not vote in November.
The political affiliations of Loughner, who is being charged by state and federal authorities with the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) as well as 19 other victims outside a Tucson grocery store on Saturday, have become the subject of a white-hot partisan debate in recent days…
Loughner’s decision to affiliate as an independent rather than a Republican or Democrat would seem to affirm the sense that while he targeted Giffords in the attack, it was not a decision born of a set of deeply held political beliefs that fit neatly into either party.
Yeah, go figure that a guy who spent the summer making nonsensical outbursts in class and answering questions on a math test with “Eat+Sleep+Brush Teeth=Math” wasn’t all that interested in the midterm elections. I know I’m boring you guys at this point with new evidence of just how unhinged Loughner was, but I can’t get over the contrast between the left straining to politicize him and the parade of friends insisting that they simply never knew Loughner to be political (apart from his Trutherism and unspecified “frustration” with Bush). His philosophy professor told Slate that he never brought up politics and that “His thoughts were unrelated to anything in our world.” And here’s the key passage from the must-read of the day in Mother Jones:
Loughner would occasionally mention Giffords, according to Tierney: “It wasn’t a day-in, day-out thing, but maybe once in a while, if Giffords did something that was ridiculous or passed some stupid law or did something stupid, he related that to people. But the thing I remember most is just that question. I don’t remember him stalking her or anything.” Tierney notes that Loughner did not display any specific political or ideological bent: “It wasn’t like he was in a certain party or went to rallies…It’s not like he’d go on political rants.” But Loughner did, according to Tierney, believe that government is “fucking us over.” He never heard Loughner vent about the perils of “currency,” as Loughner did on one YouTube video he created…
Since hearing of the rampage, Tierney has been trying to figure out why Loughner did what he allegedly did. “More chaos, maybe,” he says. “I think the reason he did it was mainly to just promote chaos. He wanted the media to freak out about this whole thing. He wanted exactly what’s happening. He wants all of that.” Tierney thinks that Loughner’s mindset was like the Joker in the most recent Batman movie: “He fucks things up to fuck shit up, there’s no rhyme or reason, he wants to watch the world burn. He probably wanted to take everyone out of their monotonous lives: ‘Another Saturday, going to go get groceries’—to take people out of these norms that he thought society had trapped us in.”
“He wanted exactly what’s happening.” Mollie Hemingway made the same point today on Twitter: “According to reports, Loughlin wanted chaos and for world to believe words have no meaning. MSM doing a very good job with that.” Indeed. To their credit, a few liberal pundits — Weigel, Jonathan Chait of TNR, Steve Kornacki of Salon — have gently suggested to their readers that perhaps the total lack of evidence of any ideological motive might be a reason not to lay the shootings at conservatives’ feet, but I’m more interested in proponents of the “climate of hate” theory. Help me figure this out: What is it, precisely, that makes prominent leftists think that grassroots liberals aren’t susceptible to incitement via a toxic political “climate” while grassroots conservatives, supposedly, are? Their argument usually comes back to the fact that there are no liberal media mega-stars to influence their base the way there are on the right a la Rush, Beck, etc, but Olbermann’s the most vitriolic liberal on TV and commands the biggest audience of any liberal on TV. (The biggest audience of any cable news star outside of Fox, I believe.) And clearly there’s a hearty appetite for demonizing conservatives among the lefty grassroots, as there’ll be for any strongly partisan group towards its opponents.
The response to that, I suppose, is that you rarely hear angry liberals make thinly veiled violent remarks like Sharron Angle did in warning about “Second Amendment solutions” (never mind that some violent radicals are either idolized on the left or else politely tolerated, even by future presidents of the United States). My point is, if the problem is demonization, why does it matter whether there’s an explicit (or thinly veiled) call for violence that accompanies it? Surely no one’s suggesting that a mind as crippled and supposedly susceptible to rhetorical influence as Loughner’s would be A-OK hearing “conservatives are racist” or “conservatives are violent” or “conservatives want to kill Gabrielle Giffords” 100 times a day, never thinking to go into attack mode unless that was immediately followed with “so let’s kill ’em.” In fact, as far as we know, Loughner seized on Giffords as a hate object when she merely answered a question about language to his dissatisfaction. Which is to say, some diseased minds don’t need much prodding. And yet lefty media is suffused with assumptions about conservatives’ evil intent, from hating minorities to hating women to hating the poor to hating illegal immigrants to hating, well, everyone. What, supposedly, makes mentally ill grassroots liberals so innately disinclined to violence that there’s really no reason to worry about any of the stuff in Michelle’s post or the “Bush = Hitler” meme from Dubya’s second term or Olby saying things like “Fox News is worse than Al Qaeda”? Is there a special civility gene that kicks in to calm down a leftist with schizophrenia when he suddenly decides that he’s ready to snap? After the past two days, for Sarah Palin’s sake, I sure hope so.