First, now there is Fox News and the conservative blogosphere, neither of which existed in April of 1995. They enable the widespread dissemination of information rebutting efforts to equate Loughner with garden-variety conservatives or Tea Partiers – or blame his acts on the statements of public figures. For example, when left-wing bloggers invoked a bulls-eye graphic that had appeared on a year-old campaign map from Sarah Palin as a reason for the violence, right-learning bloggers like VerumSerum were quick to point out that similar graphics have been used by the Democratic Leadership Council. Liberals no longer have the media playing field all to themselves.
Second, at least some respected media figures have wearied of the ongoing efforts to use national tragedies for partisan political gain. Howard Fineman and Howard Kurtz – neither of them conservatives – have called a halt to “opening rhetorical fire,” as Kurtz put it, in the wake of such attacks.
Third, almost 16 years after Oklahoma City – and after seeing similar gamesmanship in the wake of crimes like the Holocaust Museum shooting -- Americans have become skeptical of cynical efforts to stigmatize entire ideologies based only on the actions of lone, clearly deranged criminals. That’s especially true where, as here, there’s no real evidence that the suspect actually subscribed to any coherent political creed.
Finally, the political climate has changed, drastically, since 1995. Many (if not most) Americans have just endured two years in which a liberal majority has governed against their own expressed wishes. By doing so, liberal politicians – from the President on down -- have aroused widespread, deep-seated opposition among the electorate to an unprecedented degree. In such a climate, people will find it easier to distinguish between insane criminals and law-abiding dissenters from government policy, because they are likelier than ever to be dissenters themselves.
Given all of this, those on the left would be best advised to avoid cheap blame-seeking for political gain. If they persist in the dishonorable effort to discredit the beliefs of millions of Americans based on the criminal actions of just one, ironically, they may hurt their own cause most, further convincing Americans of what so many already know: That the left is simply out of touch.