After a lull, in which the Times' initial assumption the Tucson shooting had something to do with political conservatism was refuted by reality, the paper again tried to use the tragedy to smear conservatives, in Frank Rich’s Sunday column, “The G.O.P.’s Post-Tucson Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
It’s a truly weak effort that will change no minds. Still, Rich’s absurd and mean-spirited attempt to link falling numbers for Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin should be noted.
Six weeks after that horrific day in Tucson, America has half-forgotten its violent debate over the power of violent speech to incite violence. It’s Gabrielle Giffords’s own power of speech that rightly concerns us now. But all those arguments over political language did leave a discernible legacy. In the aftermath of President Obama’s Tucson sermon, civility has had a mini-restoration in Washington. And some of the most combative national figures in our politics have been losing altitude ever since, much as they did after Bill Clinton’s oratorical response to the inferno of Oklahoma City.