Assassination in American history has pretty regularly been the blessèd resort of the Left. Start with Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist who murdered the very conservative William McKinley; turn next to Harry Orchard, the union bomber who blew up Idaho governor Frank Steunenberg in 1905; turn again to Lee Harvey Oswald, the Marxist who murdered JFK (but whom Oliver Stone tried mightily to redefine as a clandestine conservative); add in Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who tried to attack Gerald Ford in 1975 on behalf of “clean air, healthy water, and respect for creatures and creation,” and Sara Jane Moore, who fired a .38 revolver at Ford a few weeks after Fromme’s abortive attack because the “government had declared war on the left”; and then top it off with John Hinckley, the would-be assassin of Ronald Reagan who claimed Lee Harvey Oswald as his role model, and you begin to get some sense of how closely the profile of the gun-toting lunatic assassin suits the Left’s enragés. When the Left talks about violence from the Right, the only name it seems able to come up with is that of Timothy McVeigh.Wow. A NewAger goes on a(nother) killing spree and it unleashes a level of scrutiny on the Left unseen, probably, in it's history? Now who woulda thunk that? (A little late but - hee-hee) Oh, come on, laugh!
I also seem to remember that the “climate” of nastiness that is supposed to have fostered the Giffords assassination attempt did not spring from the head of the Tea Party. It began long, long ago, sometime between Lyndon Johnson’s anti-Goldwater atom-bomb ads and the election of Richard Nixon, and then accelerated with the election of Ronald Reagan (whom Sam Donaldson badgered at press conferences in a manner unthought-of in the previous history of the Washington press corps). I was a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania when Reagan was gunned down, and I awoke the next day to find an op-ed column in The Daily Pennsylvanian, written by one Dom Manno, a DP staffer, gloating over the shooting and regretting only that the president had survived. Mr. Manno had to be taken in hand by the Secret Service for a brief lesson about the consequences of encouraging assassins, but the lesson Manno’s column taught me was about the serene sense of immunity he had felt in wishing a conservative president dead. The Left, in other words, never notices when it turns politics or journalism into a free-fire zone. It is only when one of its own gets hit in the process that the nastiness becomes unspeakable — but it is still never the Left’s fault for having manufactured the ammunition in the first place.
If we are living now in a time of unprecedented political “vitriol” — and I believe we are, and very much to the detriment of democracy itself — it is a brand of vitriol that was sprayed with relentless generosity on George W. Bush, who was caricatured by The Nation, day by day during his presidency, as a morphed version of Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman. And it was only yesterday that the Left’s president referred to Republicans as “enemies,” while the Speaker of the Left snarled at her critics as Nazis with swastikas.
Still, the rule of the Left is that nothing committed by the Left is a sin, whether it’s poisoning the political “climate” for the last forty years, or accusing “the Tea Party” and “the Right” of poisoning it when they strike back in kind. This is hypocrisy on a grand-mal scale.
Or should we say: