David Corn (Politics Daily): It’s been thrilling to watch millions of people rise up and call for free expression and democracy in Egypt. The collective courage of the demonstrators has been inspiring……but on Planet Beck and in other conservative quarters, the Egyptian revolution, sadly, has become just another vehicle for Obama-bashing.
Since the start of this uprising, President Obama has handled the matter well, demonstrating prudence while still adhering to principles. He has walked a fine line. The president inherited a three-decade-long relationship with Hosni Mubarak, which on several fronts worked to the United States’ advantage….
The possible consequences of Obama throwing Mubarak under the bus at the get-go were stark …. yet Obama could not risk being on the wrong side of this popular rebellion – Nor did he want to be. So he praised the protesters and acknowledged that their gripes were important and fully legitimate – and he warned Mubarak and the military not to harm them. At the same time he nudged Mubarak toward fundamental change.
In public, Obama and his aides were firm without being fiery. They responsibly concocted careful phrases … behind the scenes, Obama officials were leaning on Mubarak to develop an exit strategy. Shortly after Mubarak announced on Tuesday night that he would not run for “reelection” in the September election … Obama declared that “an orderly transition” in Egypt “must begin now.” In other words, Mubarak’s statement was not good enough.
The Egyptian crisis is far from over; Obama and his team can hardly be fully judged. But to date, they have represented the United States well. In fact, Republican leaders in Congress have not been complaining. Yet the Obama Hate Machine has seized on the Egyptian uprising as another opportunity to slam the president….…it never takes a vacation. But its eager exploitation of the uprising in Egypt cheapens the stirring images of those brave Egyptian citizens seeking democracy and the right of free expression. This is no surprise. There’s always demagoguery to wage and paranoia to fuel.
Egyptian anti-government protesters gathered in Tahrir (Liberation) square, watch a screen showing U.S. President Barack Obama live on a TV broadcast from Washington DC, speaking about the situation in Egypt, Feb. 2
President John F. Kennedy hands a pen to his brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, after signing a bill giving the Peace Corps permanent status in this September 22, 1961 file photo. Shriver was appointed the Peace Corps’ first director
Maria Shriver, Arnold Schwarzenegger and other loved ones carry the casket of Sargent Shriver into Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church
Caroline Kennedy escorts first lady Michelle Obama into Our Lady of Mercy Catholic church
Former President Bill Clinton, Senator John Kerry, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden attend the funeral mass for Sargent Shriver at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac, January 22. Shriver died January 18 at the age of 95
Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul
Bono of U2 sings “Psalms 98”
Wyclef Jean sings “Psalms 98”
Anthony Shriver holds up a photograph of his father, R. Sargent Shriver
Bill Clinton comforts Anthony Shriver during the funeral Mass for his father
Former Democratic presidential nominee Senator George McGovern
Lynda Johnson Robb, right, daughter of former President Lyndon Johnson
William Kennedy Smith speaks with Ethel Kennedy, widow of the late Robert F. Kennedy
Anthony Paul Kennedy Shriver (L), Bobby Shriver (2L), Timothy Perry Shriver (3R), Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and other mourners carry the casket of Sargent Shriver
Glen Hansard and Stevie Wonder
More on the funeral here – Read Joe Biden’s remarks here
Jacob Weisberg (Slate): There’s something offensive, as well as pointless, about the politically charged inquiry into what might have been swirling inside the head of Jared Loughner …. it is appropriate, however, to consider what was swirling outside Loughner’s head.
…the context was the anti-government, pro-gun, xenophobic populism that flourishes in the dry and angry climate of Arizona. Extremist shouters didn’t program Loughner…. but the Tea Party movement did make it appreciably more likely that a disturbed person like Loughner would react … in the crazy way he did.
At the core of the far right’s culpability is its ongoing attack on the legitimacy of U.S. government — a venomous campaign not so different from the backdrop to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 … it is this, rather than violent rhetoric per se, that is the most dangerous aspect of right-wing extremism.
…Conservative entertainers like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin like to titillate their audiences with hints of justified violence, including frequent reminders that they are armed and dangerous. Palin went so far as to put a target on someone who subsequently got shot. Whether or not the man who fired the gun was inspired by Palin isn’t the point. The point is that you shouldn’t paint targets on people, even in metaphor, or jest.
Guns are also at the heart of how the right’s ideology enabled Loughner. Tea Partiers often frame the right to bear arms as a necessary check on federal despotism … First you rile up psychotics with inflammatory language about tyranny, betrayal, and taking back the country. Then you make easy for them to get guns.
But if you really want trouble, you should also make it hard for them to get treatment for mental illness …. if Republicans succeed in repealing the Obama health care bill, that’s how it will remain.
Again, none of this says that Tea Party caused the Tucson tragedy, only that its politics increased the odds of something like it happening … it is the right that amuses itself with violent chat and proclaims an injured innocence when its flammable words blow up.
Jonathan Raban (UK Independent): One could be shocked, but hardly surprised, by the news on Saturday … it was an event that seemed to grow out of America’s present disturbed and angry climate, like a killer-tornado or hurricane: awful, yes, but part of the weather, and, in some sense, only to be expected.
….an ad published last March by Sarah Palin’s political action committee … showed a map of the United States, dotted with 20 vulnerable Democratic seats in Congress, each identified by cross-hairs in a gunsight. Giffords’ seat was one of these. The legend above the map read: “We’ve diagnosed the problem… Help us prescribe the solution.”
….it would be absurd now to claim that the proposed “solution” was death by assassination … but Gabrielle Giffords made great sense when, in March 2010, she discussed the Palin map with a TV interviewer, saying: “Sarah Palin has the cross-hairs of a gunsight over our district – and when people do that, they’ve got to realise there are consequences to that action.”
In the martial atmosphere of an election year (and in a country where four sitting presidents have been assassinated, and many more have survived serious attempts on their lives), extravagant figures of speech can all too easily become literal, and rhetorical guns turn into real ones.
In November last year, Giffords was narrowly re-elected against a Tea Party Republican named Jesse Kelly who… conducted his political campaign in the language of warfare. …. “Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot a fully automated M-16 with Jesse Kelly.”
Kelly’s campaign website closed down some time after noon on Saturday, and was replaced with a message of sympathy for Gabrielle Giffords … before the site closed, I caught his November thanks to the “thousands of warriors who fought with me in this campaign”.
….voters became “warriors” … but the word also exactly reflects the Tea Party mindset: this is war. Or, as Sarah Palin put it in a Tweet last year: “Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: ‘Don’t retreat – instead RELOAD!’…..
….The Tucson shootings can’t be blamed on Palin, Kelly, or the Tea Party: all three are more or less typical inhabitants of the debased, exaggerated and vitriolic language that now dominates American public discourse. Keith Olbermann, on the liberal left, speaks it as fluently as do Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck on the right….
….There is a chance, if rather a slim one, that the Tucson massacre will make both politicians and commentators draw back and reconsider their terms. Politics is not warfare. The Democratic party is not a colonialist tyranny. Obama is not George III. To live in a slew of overheated metaphors, in language vastly disproportionate to the occasion, is to invite and license the kind of atrocity that happened the day before yesterday.
The shooting of Gabrielle Giffords may lead to the temporary hibernation of rightwing rage, but it is encoded in conservative DNA
Michael Tomasky (The UK Guardian): It was instructive to read elected Republicans’ official statements in response to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting for what they did not say … you’ll note that they are silent on the question of the violent rhetoric that emanates from the rightwing of American society. You don’t have to believe that alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, is a card-carrying Tea Party member (he evidently is not) to see some kind of connection between that violent rhetoric and what happened in Arizona on Saturday.
…. he had political ideas … many of them (not all, but most) were right wing. He went to considerable expense and trouble to shoot a high-profile Democrat, at point-blank range right through the brain. What else does one need to know? For anyone to attempt to insist that the violent rhetoric so regularly heard in this country had no likely effect on this young man is to enshroud oneself in dishonesty and denial.
….some things will change, at least for a while. Sarah Palin will be deeply diminished by this. Speaking about the now well-known cross-hairs imagery over the map of Giffords’ congressional district on Palin’s website, Giffords herself last year expressed concern about “consequences”. Palin pooh-poohed this at the time.
Palin’s unctuous and hypocritical “prayer” for Giffords and the other victims will mollify only those who think she can do no wrong. But in general, this hastens that blessed day when we no longer have to pay attention to her self-serving lies and idiocies.
….This kind of rhetoric will go into hibernation now, but only for a bit. Because not only is it too central to rightwing mythology; it is central to Republican electoral strategy … Get people to hate liberals. Get them to think not only that liberals have ideas for the country that are wrong – get them to believe that liberals despise the country and are actively attempting to hasten its demise. Say progressivism isn’t just invalid or even dangerous, but “evil” and a “cancer,” as Glenn Beck says. Fear gets people to the ballot box.
….Today’s Republicans and conservative commentators surely understand the fire they’re playing with. But they do it, and a tragedy like Saturday’s won’t stop them, as long as they can maintain a phoney plausible deniability and as long as hate continues to pay dividends at the ballot box.
Paul Krugman: …..We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was. She’s been the target of violence before. And for those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target, the answer is that she’s a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. (Her father says that “the whole Tea Party” was her enemy.) And yes, she was on Sarah Palin’s infamous “crosshairs” list.
Just yesterday, Ezra Klein remarked that opposition to health reform was getting scary. Actually, it’s been scary for quite a while, in a way that already reminded many of us of the climate that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing.
You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.
Update: I see that Sarah Palin has called the shooting “tragic”. OK, a bit of history: right-wingers went wild over anyone who called 9/11 a tragedy, insisting that it wasn’t a tragedy, it was an atrocity.
It was only on Friday that Palin, in an interview with her buddy Laura Ingraham, said that President Obama was “hell-bent on weakening America”. Only an enemy of America would be hell-bent on weakening it, so is that what the President is, an enemy of the country that elected him? The hate speech just keeps on coming…..