How does Jared Lee Loughner's probable mental imbalance make the sad state of public discourse in America any more acceptable?
In their rush to point out the lack of evidence that the suspected Arizona shooter was influenced by political rhetoric, some conservative commentators make an illogical leap:
Loughner did a bad thing. It wasn't caused by the nation's warped political climate. Ergo, the nation's warped political climate is fine.
Regardless of Loughner's still-unclear motivations, the country's political hardball is counter-productive. It is sensible, not shameful, to allow the shooting of a congresswoman, a federal judge and 17 others to cause us to pause and assess whether our politics have become too "us vs. them," not enough "we Americans."
That suggestion is not liberal or conservative. Both sides share blame for the state of political debate today. Sarah Palin put crosshairs on congressional districts, and also urged people not to "retreat" but to "reload." Tea partier Sharron Angle, a U.S. Senate candidate from Nevada, suggested "Second Amendment remedies." Candidate Barack Obama said "if they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." A Democratic operative despicably suggested that Democrats need to "deftly pin" the Arizona tragedy on the tea partiers.
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