Back in June, CIA Director Leon Panetta suggested former vice president Dick Cheney was almost "wishing" for another terrorist attack on the U.S.
Panetta's argument hinged on this premise: Because Dick Cheney warned us that President Obama's policies made America less safe, Republicans might benefit politically if, in fact, Cheney were proven right. And so, Panetta concluded that Cheney was probably hoping for another attack...
Of course, despite what Panetta may think, warning that Obama's policies might invite attack is entirely different from wishing for a terrorist attack. In Panetta's world, warning something might happen is tantamount to rooting for it to happen.
Panetta's argument also cynically assumed Dick Cheney would rather lose 3,000 plus fellow Americans than to be wrong (though avoiding another attack does not prove we are less safe, anyway). ... Still, that didn't stop the CIA Director from making such an irresponsible suggestion.
Fast forward to last week when, presumably referring to town hall meetings, protests, and talk radio, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said,
“I saw this myself in the late ’70s in San Francisco,” she said, referring to anti-gay laws and demonstrations. “It created an environment in which violence took place.”
She was, of course, referring to the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, and warning that similar violence might take place today.
... While I would never suggest such a thing, logic seems to dictate that if Panetta believes Cheney's warnings mean he is "wishing" for a terrorist attack, then Pelosi's warnings might also mean she is "wishing" for violence. After all, it is reasonable to assume that Democrats would benefit from her being proven right. (Again, this according to Panetta's logic -- not mine).
The truth is that if anyone has incentive to avoid political violence -- particularly anything specifically aimed at the president -- it is conservatives. As Glenn Beck recently said, "just one lunatic, like Timothy McVeigh, could ruin everything that everyone has worked so hard for, because these people in Washington won't pass up the use of an emergency. "
As liberal blogger Taylor Marsh wrote when applauded Pelosi, "Let it be noted for the record, with the gauntlet thrown down. Wingnuts who incite violence will be responsible."
The last thing conservatives want or need at this moment is to create martyrs, to be portrayed as extremists, and turn public opinion against them. Conservatives are winning the debate, why would they want to spoil that?