Rightbloggers comfort the real victims of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting: themselves



After Saturday's shootings in Arizona

-- which left Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords badly wounded

and six people dead -- rightbloggers were swift to condemn ... any

possible criticism of themselves.

You can understand their defensiveness. Back during the 2010 campaign,

Sarah Palin had endorsed tea party challengers to Giffords and others

with little gun-sight images and the cry, "Don't Retreat -- Reload!" Giffords had noticed ("When people do that, they've got to realize there are consequences to that action..."); so did the local sheriff.

Oops. You might expect rightbloggers to be pouring oil on troubled

waters right now, eschewing violence, promoting civility, etc.

You might expect that -- if you didn't know them. If you do,

you will have guessed that they responded in their traditional manner:

With rage at the great injustice they had suffered.

After the violence, Palin had her people try to spin that old shooty-shooty campaign material away

-- which we can understand, because she is an American politician and that's

what they do. Liberals gave Palin a hard time about that ("fuck it, I'm

going there," said TBogg of "Sarah Palin's Hit List"), which we also understand.

Some leftbloggers went further, teasing out a connection between the

violent, pseudo-revolutionary rhetoric sometimes heard from tea party

people and this very violent event. "To the more mainstream

right-wingers who fail to condemn the poisonous claims of the far

right," wrote Adele Stan

at AlterNet, "I say, you're hardly off the hook." "[Accused assassin

Jared] Loughner, while clearly in the grip of delusion rather than any

coherent ideology," wrote Michelle Goldberg at Tablet, "nonetheless shared many far-right obsessions."

I know it looks bad, but I can explain.
​To be fair, we can imagine a reasonable answer to this argument. And we have to imagine it, as no one is actually making it. (Those who come closest are actually milquetoast liberals like the New York Times' Matt Bai

who, in our current, debased political discourse, take the role once

filled by moderate Republicans back when such creatures existed.)

What we got instead was less reasonable -- because once a connection had

been suggested between the sainted Palin and an actual, horrific act of

violence -- worse, a connection that such Americans as can remember

back a few news cycles might actually grasp -- the necessity of severing

that connection became stronger for rightbloggers than any faint

impulses they might have had toward decorum, logic, or common sense.

For example, when leftblogger Matthew Yglesias cited Congressnut Michele

Bachmann's 2009 "armed and dangerous" comments as an example of violent

rightwing lunacy, the Daily Caller's John Guardiano

said it wasn't as bad as it sounded: "Bachmann clearly was using 'armed

and dangerous' in a metaphorical and political, not literal and

violent, sense," he said.

Unfortunately Guardiano tried to prove this with direct quotations from

Bachmann, including this: "Thomas Jefferson told us, 'Having a

revolution every now and then is a good thing.' And we the people are

going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our


As the American Revolution involved muskets and cannons, not political

debates, this would seem to run exactly contrary to Guardiano's point.

In any event, Guardiano told us the real extremist here was "the

reprehensible" Yglesias -- "a tool of the rabid Left" who "sees people

only in political, and not human, terms."

In the real world, Yglesias is actually a moderate liberal who tries to engage small-gummint types by opposing barber licensing and going to the rifle range with Megan McArdle.

But when you're aggressively defending your own moderation, and your

best defense is a reference to armed revolution, radicalizing the

reputation of your opponents must seem like a good idea.

The normally pithy Professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit devoted some

relatively gabby posts to the shootings and the liberals who were the

real villains of them.

"And judging from the comments to this post," wrote Reynolds

right after the event, "people are already trying to score political

points. Well, they kind of telegraphed this strategy, didn't they?"

Within that last cryptic comment, Reynolds included a link

to a quote by Mark Penn -- who worked for Hillary Clinton against Obama

in 2008 -- suggesting that Obama would gain politically from an

Oklahoma City style tragedy. (Across the right blogosphere, that bombing

is now generally depicted

as more Bill Clinton's crime than Tim McVeigh's.) We're not sure if

this liberal "strategy" as seen by Reynolds involves actually hiring

shooters like Loughner, or just standing ready to profit from the

assassination of whatever Democrats happen to get shot.

Later Reynolds added:

"As with Mike Bloomberg's immediate effort to blame the Times Square

bombing attempt on the Tea Party, this swift reaction betrays their hope

for an issue that could save Obama by defaming his opposition." Still later:

"CNN's coverage [of the shooting] could be fairly described as 'hate

speech,' couldn't it? Because that's what blood libel is." No, actually,

blood libel is this -- but as rightbloggers believe that Obama is Hitler, maybe the comparison was intentional.

Also on the case: CNN commentator and RedState kingpin Erick Erickson. First Erickson explained to readers that RedState was suspending its current cartoon caption contest; the cartoon

involved a John Boehner target being delivered to a "Left Wing Media

Shooting Range." (This good laugh over the tendency of liberals to

assassinate Republicans will no doubt be resumed at a later date.)

Having thus done his bit for comity, Erickson announced that "the left

is using this tragedy to score political points," and declared that the

real cause of the shooting was "Evil," which "exists where God does not

and as we drive God further and further away, evil creeps in more and

more." (Regular readers of RedState already know liberals are evil, so

the conclusion is foregone.)

Later Erickson returned

to say that "the media" was "subtly and not so subtly pinning the blame

for the attempted assassination of the Congresswoman and the related

shootings on the tea party movement, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn

Beck, me, you, and everyone right of center." And, he added, by so doing

"the left and media may very well incite violence against the right."

So that was the plan all along! Wait till some nut shoots Glenn Beck. Then we'll know who to blame -- Matthew Yglesias!

    This is terrible --
    Someone might blame Rush!
​At The American Spectator, Philip Klein

said, "it's far too early to speculate on the shooters' motives," then

speculated on the shooter's motives. Klein noted that, among his many random enthusiasms, Loughner was a fan of The Communist Manifesto,

and "unlike the subliminal message liberals attribute to Palin's map,

Marx and Engles explicitly advocated political violence." Klein sought

to prove this by quoting at length from the Manifesto, bolding the alleged calls to mayhem therein, e.g., "[the proletariat] makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production," etc. (This has not been a great week on the Right for contextual reading.)

That kind of selective attribution -- suggesting that Loughner's fondness for, say, Ayn Rand's We The Living and bimetallism, and his contempt for the federal government, are meaningless, but his endorsement of The Communist Manifesto is dispositive -- became a popular gambit among rightbloggers who saw that the non-political-nut explanation wasn't getting them where they wanted to go.

From there, it was easy for them to move on to the conclusion (as they had after the rampages of John Patrick Bedell and Joe Stack) that the shooter was in fact a committed, doctrinaire liberal.

"This nut was a lefty. That's the fact," said Atlas Shrugs. "Loughner was a 'left-winger' who listed amongst his favorite books The Communist Manifesto," said Paul Joseph Watson. "As I said before, the LEFT WING WHACKO's own this nutjob," reasoned NoBamaNation. "He's of their creation, of that there's no doubt."

And they had proof! For instance, a girl Loughner knew in high school remembered him as liberal. As everyone knows, no one who is liberal in high school ever gives it up.

The proof points kept rolling in: Loughner used liberal drugs. "You can

almost hear the disappointment from the left that [Loughner] was a

pothead rather than a Tea Partyer," said Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post. "Described by former classmates as a pot-smoking left-wing rocker," confirmed National Review's Robert P. George. This is conclusive because only liberals smoke weed; conservatives prefer Scotch and Oxycontin.

Also, Loughner's taste in literature didn't fit the template. "Among his

long list of favorite books in his YouTube profile are Mein Kampf, The

Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha," Politico reported; Instapundit responded, "Doesn't sound much like a Tea Partier." Exactly -- where's the Dean Koontz?

With Loughner's liberalism thus established, the brethren moved on to

examples of other liberals assassinating people -- or, failing that, the

next best thing: Liberals whom they thought sounded like they were fixing to assassinate people.

Old CW: Mass murderer
New CW: Clinton's patsy
​Some found an equivalent to Loughner in "BoyBlue," a poster at the liberal site DailyKos (many suggested, at least at first, that Loughner and BoyBlue were one and the same).

BoyBlue had denounced Rep. Giffords for voting against Nancy Pelosi for

Speaker last week, declaring that Giffords "is now DEAD to me!" ("There

are also several references to 'dead' in the comment thread," helpfully

added Rick Moran of American Thinker.) Unlike Loughner, BoyBlue is not known to have shot anyone, but really it's the thought that counts.

Also, rightbloggers found liberal maps that had targets on them, too, and theblogprof

posted examples of "eliminationist rhetoric from the left."

Representative sample: "'We talk to these folks... so I know whose ass

to kick.' Obama on the private sector, June 2010." Sure enough, a few

months later Obama burst into a Chamber of Commerce meeting and gunned

down several people. (If you didn't know about that, blame the biased

reporting of the Lame Stream Media!)

Inevitably it got around, as all things do, to Barack Obama. Instapundit was one of many to quote Obama's citation of the "Chicago Rules" from The Untouchables

("If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun"), presumably

demonstrating that the President, too, is a potential assassin. "How

could [Loughner] get so close to a congresswoman with a gun?" wondered iOwnTheWorld.

"I guess the secret service was too busy investigating UFC's Jacob

Volkmann because he jokingly said he would like to fight Obama." "The

man likes Carl Marx and his ideas!" said Desert Conservative. "How much more alike Obama can he be?" etc.

They're still at it. For them it's a big deal, spin-wise. Commentary's

Peter Wehner was on C-Span yesterday, complaining that the rhetoric

against conservatives on msnbc was "just way, way out there." Writers at

National Review's The Corner even pulled unaccustomed Sunday night duty, lest the propaganda momentum be lost.

One of them, Jay Nordlinger,

was in an especially somber mood: He dismally ticked off all the

catastrophes that liberals had somehow unfairly pinned on conservatives

-- Hurricane Katrina, Oklahoma City, and the death of JFK, notable to

Nordlinger for the unfair suspicion it brought on Republican Senator

John Tower. Oh, and "a gun to a knife fight," etc. "I don't say that it

ought to be this way, Lord knows," sighed Nordlinger. "But it always has

been, at least for as long as I can remember. And I fear it always will


Weep not for Nordlinger. Though such extraordinary self-pity may seem

from the outside depressing to live with, it has its advantages. It

gives the sufferer's life purpose and meaning. Since he's always the

victim, he never has to step up and accept responsibility for anything.

In short, being a conservative means never having to say you're sorry,

which makes it ideal for people who are fundamentally incapable of

admitting they ever have anything or anyone besides themselves to be

sorry for.

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