Six Dead
Matt Taibbi on John Boehner...

James Fallows on the Cloudy Logic of 'Political' Shootings

James Fallows writes:

The Cloudy Logic of 'Political' Shootings - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic: So the train of logic is:

1) anything that can be called an "assassination" is inherently political;
2) very often the "politics" are obscure, personal, or reflecting mental disorders rather than "normal" political disagreements. But now a further step,
3) the political tone of an era can have some bearing on violent events. The Jonestown/Ryan and Fromme/Ford shootings had no detectable source in deeper political disagreements of that era. But the anti-JFK hate-rhetoric in Dallas before his visit was so intense that for decades people debated whether the city was somehow "responsible" for the killing. (Even given that Lee Harvey Oswald was an outlier in all ways.)

That's the further political ramification here. We don't know why the Tucson killer did what he did. If he is like Sirhan, we'll never "understand." But we know that it has been a time of extreme, implicitly violent political rhetoric and imagery, including SarahPac's famous bulls-eye map of 20 Congressional targets to be removed -- including Rep. Giffords. It is legitimate to discuss whether there is a connection between that tone and actual outbursts of violence, whatever the motivations of this killer turn out to be. At a minimum, it will be harder for anyone to talk -- on rallies, on cable TV, in ads -- about "eliminating" opponents, or to bring rifles to political meetings, or to say "don't retreat, reload."

Meanwhile condolences on this tragedy, and deepest hopes for the recovery of all who still have a chance.

I wish he were correct, but I don't think so.

Remember where the incitement comes from here:


It comes from Gabrielle Giffords's voting for the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act (a) removes the benefits exemption from the high-cost component of health insurance plans, (b) sets in train a very substantial series of future cuts in Medicare spending growth (that we hope will come in increased efficiency rather than decreased quality of care), (c) establishes health exchanges so that individuals and small businesses can have the bargaining power in health insurance markets that those who work for large corporations have, and (d) eliminates the ability of both insurance companies and households to game the system by adverse selection. This is a plan that moderate Republicans ought to get behind enthusiastically--indeed, Mitt Romney did so when he pushed it through in Massachusetts.

Along that branch of the multiverse's quantum wave function in which Mitt Romney won the 2008 U.S. presidential election, a bill very much like the Affordable Care Act passed the House 326-105 and the Senate 78-17 with a small fringe on the right whimpering about how we needed a more free-market plan and a somewhat larger fringe on the left whimpering that it was too half a measure and too large a giveaway to the insurance companies.

The point is that our media-driven politics right now seems much more "obscure, personal, or reflecting mental disorders" than it seems to be "'normal' political disagreements."