DNC Chair revives old meme: Tea Party still to blame for Tucson shooting

If you thought we’d made it safely through the anniversary of the tragedy in Tucson without a revival of the accusation that Tea Party rhetoric was somehow to blame for the mental instability of shooter Jared Loughner, think again. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz couldn’t let this time of commemoration pass without suggesting to anyone who will listen to her that incivility has increased with the rise of the Tea Party — and that heated political rhetoric played at least some part in Rep. Gabby Giffords’ horrific ordeal. Joel Gehrke relates:

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., speaking in New Hampshire this morning, reminded her audience of the tragic Tucson shooting last year — and also insinuated that the Tea Party, which she said regards political opponents as “the enemy,” has enhanced divisiveness in Congress and had something to do with the shooting, at least indirectly.

“We need to make sure that we tone things down, particularly in light of the Tucson tragedy from a year ago, where my very good friend, Gabby Giffords — who is doing really well, by the way, — [was shot],” Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair said during a “Politics and Eggs” forum this morning. “The discourse in America, the discourse in Congress in particular . . . has really changed, I’ll tell you. I hesitate to place blame, but I have noticed it take a very precipitous turn towards edginess and lack of civility with the growth of the Tea Party movement.”

Having brought up the Giffords attack as a political cudgel, Wasserman Schultz doubled down on that attack. “You had town hall meetings that they tried to take over, and you saw some their conduct at those tea party meetings,” Wasserman Schultz said today. “When they come and disagree with you, you’re not just wrong, you’re the enemy.”

If Wasserman Schultz’ comments capture reality at all it is only insofar as the rise of the Tea Party has also — naturally — coincided with the rise of Tea Party opponents, whose rhetoric is frequently edgy and uncivil. Remember when …

  • DWS herself said Republicans “literally” want to drag the country “back to Jim Crow days”?
  • Rep. Andre Carson said Tea Partiers want to see minorities “hanging on a tree”?
  • Rep. Maxine Waters said the Tea Party could go straight to hell?
  • Rep. Frederica Wilson called the Tea Party “the real enemy”?

Shall I go on? Debbie Downer is in serious denial about who is responsible for whatever rise in heated rhetoric has occurred since the Tea Party first appeared on the national stage. It’d be nice if the incivility would stop — but, at a bare minimum, the hypocrisy has to.