Krugman was just the, excuse the expression, opening salvo. The sanctimonious hand wringing that followed from NPR programs, liberal editorial writers and cable chat shows was continuous. All use of war metaphors was declared out of bounds. There was to be no more talk of primary fights, battleground states, targeted districts or shots across the bow. Perhaps even the word campaign was too tainted.
Markos Moulitsas, Keith Olbermann and other usual suspects rushed to blame Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement -- thereby displaying incivility in the guise of condemning it. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois suggested that comments such as Palin's trope, "Don't retreat; reload," were responsible for Jared Loughner's brutal mass attack. "These sorts of things, I think, invite the kind of toxic rhetoric that can lead unstable people to believe this is an acceptable response." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in the United Arab Emirates at the time of the attack said: "We have extremists in my country. A wonderful, incredibly brave young woman Congress member, Congresswoman Giffords, was just shot by an extremist in our country."
President Obama didn't go as far as many in his party. Instead, he adopted a pose of wounded worry, noting in his Tucson speech, that our "discourse has become so sharply polarized" and wondering whether we could "pause for a moment and make sure that we're talking with each other in a way that -- that heals, not in a way that wounds." Later, the president called upon all Americans to "be civil because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other's ideas without questioning each other's love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations."