In the immediate aftermath of the attempt on the life of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), many (but fortunately not all) on the left were quick to blame conservative rhetoric. They thought hoped this shooting would prove to be their silver bullet in their war on the right, proof of their creed that conservative rhetoric breeds violence.
They intended to use it as a defining moment of the currently re-ascendant conservative movement. Instead, their reaction has made it a defining moment of the left.
Americans increasingly see through this rhetoric of blame. The antics of Paul Krugman et al. are already putting the mean-spirited nature of him and his kindred left-wing pundits, bloggers and yes, even elected officials into sharper focus. So ready are such folk to blame the right that they seek to use the horrific actions of a very troubled young man for political gain. People are beginning to recognize how politicized they are that they refuse to see the actions of a madman for what they are.
To be sure, not all those on the left have joined the mad rush to fault conservatives in general and Sarah Palin and the Tea Party in particular. Some have even criticized the “narrative” as recited by their ideological confreres.
These sensible voices on the left reflect the opinion of an overwhelmingly majority of Americans. According to a CBS poll, “Nearly six in 10 Americans say the country’s heated political rhetoric is not to blame for the Tucson shooting rampage that left six dead and critically wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords“. Only 32% believe such rhetoric had anything to do with the shootings. And the CBS poll tends to skew left.
The “public”, Ed Morrissey contends, has apparently “been able to separate the spin from the actual facts, which show that Loughner was a loon acting out of insanity and a personal grudge against Giffords, one completely of his own making.”
In the world of the new media, folks like Krugman can no longer shape the narrative. Indeed, they may well find their attempts to so spin the news backfiring as they put themselves in the position they wish to place their ideological adversaries: as foes of civil discourse.