Of all the pundits trying to pin the Tucson massacre on conservatives, perhaps none has been more nakedly partisan and ignorant of the facts than Paul Krugman.
Putting aside the sheer comedy of calls for civil discourse from a columnist who, when he didn't get his way, encouraged readers to hang a sitting senator in effigy. All hypocrisy aside, Krugman has now taken it one step further and begun quoting conservatives out of context in order to make his case - and completely distorting what they said in the process.
Michele Bachmann was given the Krugman treatment in a column on Monday. Krugman had this to say:
And it's the saturation of our political discourse -- and especially our airwaves -- with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence.
Where's that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let's not make a false pretense of balance: it's coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It's hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be "armed and dangerous" without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.
Krugman defined "eliminationist rhetoric" in this context as "suggestions that those on the other side of a debate must be removed from that debate by whatever means necessary." Bachmann's statement was the only example he provided.
But true to form, Krugman quoted Bachmann out of context, and completely turned around the meaning of her statement in the process. What did she actually say? Here's PowerLine's John Hinderaker:
As it happens, I--unlike Krugman--know all about Michele's "armed and dangerous" quote, because she said it in an interview with Brian Ward and me, on our radio show. It was on March 21, 2009. The subject was the Obama administration's cap and trade proposal. Michele organized a couple of informational meetings in her district with an expert on global warming and cap and trade, and she came on our show to promote those meetings. She wanted her constituents to be armed with information on cap and trade so that they would understand how unnecessary, and how damaging to our economy, the Obama administration's proposal was. That would make them dangerous to the administration's left-wing plans…
For the record, here is what Michele said: "I'm going to have materials for people when they leave. I want people armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax, because we need to fight back." Yes, that's right: she wanted Minnesotans to be armed with "materials"--facts and arguments--not guns. If this is the best example of "eliminationist rhetoric" that the far left can come up with, you can see how absurdly weak the claims of Krugman and his fellow haters are.
Bachmann wanted her constituents to be engaged and knowledgable in the political process. This, apparently, was the only example Krugman could come up with, and it doesn't actually support his point.
Weak stuff, Paul.