When I learned of the shooting in Tucson that killed a judge and wounded a Democratic congresswoman, I felt sick, but I also worried that the gunman would turn out to have some tie to the political right. If he did, the left would certainly exploit the connection, however tenuous, to smear the right. The establishment media would surely go along — indeed, they’ve gone along with that narrative even in absence of any violence.
As it turns out, Jared Loughner seems to be a garden variety wacko. But that didn’t stop Paul Krugman from running out the narrative anyway. Let’s fisk it, shall we:
A Democratic Congresswoman has been shot in the head; another dozen were also shot.
We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was.
The odds? He’s talking probability here? I guess it makes sense in a certain twisted way. According to Bayes’s theorem, if don’t collect any data, your best prediction is simply your “prior distribution” (i.e., your initial prejudice). That does seem to be what he’s doing.
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.
This isn’t even guilt-by-association, it’s guilt-by-non-association. Mr. Krugman, you are a disgrace. And as far as the “crosshairs” map goes, Verum Serum notes that the Democrats liked crosshair maps too, but theirs never seemed to spark any outrage from Mr. Krugman.
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.
Yeah, just as Paul Krugman stood up against the violent language and violent acts of the left.
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.
I was bothered when people called 9/11 a tragedy, since it was an atrocity, although I wouldn’t say I went wild over it. I didn’t know that I was joined by so many. However, a google search fails to reveal that Palin ever did, so as a line of attack against Palin this is entirely unfair.
Update: I’m going to take down comments on this one; they would need a lot of moderating, because the crazies are coming out in force, and it’s all too likely to turn into a flame war.
A nice touch, but it’s a little late to play the wise old man now, Mr. Krugman.
Glenn Reynolds sums it up well:
Let me be clear, as a great man says: If you’re using this event to criticize the “rhetoric” of Sarah Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you’re either asserting a connection between the “rhetoric” and the shooting — which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie — or you’re not, in which case you’re just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. So which is it?
The conscience of a liberal, indeed.
POSTSCRIPT: The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz puts it well:
Let’s be honest: Journalists often use military terminology in describing campaigns. We talk about the air war, the bombshells, targeting politicians, knocking them off, candidates returning fire or being out of ammunition. So we shouldn’t act shocked when politicians do the same thing. Obviously, Palin should have used dots or asterisks on her map. But does anyone seriously believe she was trying to incite violence? . . .
This isn’t about a nearly year-old Sarah Palin map; it’s about a lone nutjob who doesn’t value human life. It would be nice if we briefly put aside partisan differences and came together with sympathy and support for Gabby Giffords and the other victims, rather than opening rhetorical fire ourselves.
Or there’s Media Matters:
Discovery Channel hostage-taker is the perpetrator of a crime-not liberal, conservative or a chance to score points
We’ll see if they’re consistent.
UPDATE: Power Line takes a different, but equally apt take on Krugman’s column:
This would be outrageous even if Krugman himself were not one of the worst hatemongers in public life, a man whose hysterical rhetoric exceeds anything you hear from Limbaugh, Beck, or any significant figure on the right who comes to mind. But this sort of contemptible demagoguery is exactly the kind of thing we have come to expect from Krugman.
UPDATE: More violent terminology from the the left:
“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said in Philadelphia last night.
Also, this seems to be going beyond a few contemptible columnists, and metastasizing into a Democratic strategy:
One veteran Democratic operative, who blames overheated rhetoric for the shooting, said President Barack Obama should carefully but forcefully do what his predecessor did.
“They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,” said the Democrat. “Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.”
Certainly CNN is on board. But the more we learn about Loughner, the less it looks like the strategy will work.
UPDATE: Still more violent terminology from the White House:
Perhaps we should admit that this is simply how people talk. But that might preclude point scoring.
UPDATE: Still more.
UPDATE: More and more. But, in all the well-deserved mockery for the violent language meme, let’s not forget the left’s propensity to go beyond language.
UPDATE: The Economist blasts “Krugman’s toxic rhetoric.”
UPDATE: This ad, which is I imagine the only campaign ad in which a candidate actually shoots his opponent, belongs to Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. (Just to be clear, I’ve got no problem with the shooting part of the ad, although I do detest his dishonest mischaracterization of Raese’s views.)
UPDATE: Krauthammer delivers.