Imagine the Saturday morning of congressional aide Mark Kimble. Kimble told of going to a Safeway for a typical meet-and-greet event with his boss, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Kimble said he went into the store for coffee, and as he came out, Giffords was talking to a couple about Medicare and reimbursements, and federal judge John Roll had just walked up to her and shouted "Hi" -- when a gunman opened fire.
Nobody in America should greet this scene with any other initial reaction than horror. Six people were killed, including Roll, several retirees and a 9-year-old girl. More than a dozen others were seriously injured in the carnage. Giffords was shot in the head and remains in critical condition. Sadly, shamefully, within just minutes, a nasty political spin was kicking in without any brake for decency or evidence. Conservatives were to blame.
CNN broke in with this horrible news at about 1:30 Eastern time, and within an hour, CNN put on the local political cartoonist, David Fitzsimmons, who announced that the shooting was "inevitable" considering "The Right in Arizona, and I'm speaking very broadly, has been stoking the fires of a heated anger and rage successfully in this state." The state also had a conservative "fetish" for guns that added to the inevitability, he claimed.
Fitzsimmons later apologized, something a whole of lot people should consider doing if they have a shred of decency. I have never witnessed such an (SET ITAL) immediate (END ITAL) rush to tar a majority movement in my life -- without an ounce of evidence.
The star of the media's Smearing Olympics was Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Democrat who rushed to the readily available media microphones to proclaim the shooting was the natural outgrowth of hot "anti-government" talkers, that "the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from the people in the radio business and some people in the TV business" was to blame.
At first, Dupnik didn't name names, but you knew whom he meant. He later said he wanted to say Rush Limbaugh first, and Glenn Beck as well. That began a deluge of "news" coverage blaming conservative radio hosts, Fox News and politicians like Sarah Palin for their alleged encouragement of nutty lone gunmen to kill federal judges and congressmen.
Even as they acknowledged the shooter's motive was a mystery, liberal reporters were filling their buckets with mud. Typical was CBS reporter Nancy Cordes, who scolded that "Giffords was one of 20 Democrats whose districts were lit up in crosshairs on a Sarah Palin campaign website last spring. Giffords and many others complained that someone unstable might act on that imagery."
Jumping into special coverage on MSNBC, that dispassionate news "anchorman" Keith Olbermann insisted that Palin should apologize or be "dismissed from politics." It mattered not one iota to this man who drools nightly hatred that his friends at the Daily Kos also talked of a "target list" with Giffords -- and dehumanized her a "congresscritter."
This flood of slanderous sludge is designed for nakedly political benefit: to paint a permanent black mark on conservatives as accessories to murder, and criminalize any expression of conservatism as a dangerous anti-government conspiracy.
Happily, after a few broadcasts of this vomit, CBS pollsters found 57 percent of Americans questioned on Sunday and Monday didn't accept the notion that the country's "harsh political tone" had anything to do with the Tucson rampage.
Conservatives could see the liberals trying to replay the Oklahoma City bombing smears from 1995. An anonymous, cowardly "veteran Democratic strategist" whispered to Politico that Team Obama needs to "to deftly pin this on the tea partiers ... Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people."
Is this deft? Or just daft? This partisan insanity was presented as savvy by the usual suspects. Ex-Newsweek reporter Howard Fineman oozed that Obama needed to gain advantage over Republicans without seeming political: "The trick is to make it without seeming to be trying to make it. He will, after all, be speaking at a funeral."
Another sicko at Newsweek, Jonathan Alter, was so indecent that he calculated how Giffords is more valuable to Obama alive than dead: "Sad to say, if Giffords had died, she would have been mourned and soon the conversation would have moved on. But Giffords lives, thank God, which offers other possibilities. We won't know for weeks or months whether she can function in public. If she can, she will prove a powerful referee of the boundaries of public discourse -- more influential, perhaps, than the president himself."
Thank God Giffords survived -- so Obama can be re-elected? Alter is the one who needs a referee -- some editor who can tell him he couldn't find a "boundary of public discourse" if it slapped him in the face.