Regardless of whether the Tucson shooter was a Giffords-obsessed psychotic loner; regardless of who first started spouting the hate-and-violence-metaphor-laden vitriol; regardless of which side has used more of it; regardless of when it started; regardless of whether and whom this rhetoric has spurred to dangerous action......
Why are influential conservatives so adamant about not agreeing to stop using these metaphors, when liberals are vociferously vowing to refrain from doing so? What's wrong with agreeing to use freedom of speech considerately and responsibly? Could it be because this incendiary rhetoric actually works for the Republican/Tea Party base?
What is so controversial about saying "We don't care who started it or who says more of it--let's ALL put a sock in it?" Instead, conservative pols (e.g., Palin) and pundits (e.g., Limbaugh) alike are blaming only the psychotics but refusing to condemn a poisoned atmosphere of political and racial hatred---and going a step further by accusing Democrats of exploiting this for our own political gain?
Come to think of it, we are idiots indeed if we fail to begin and continue to remind America that racially-motivatived violence metaphors do indeed have consequences. Look how well seeding the national conversation (beginning in Aug. '09) with "birther" rhetoric and phrases such as "big government," "Socialism," "Obamacare," "job-killing," "government control," "don't retreat, reload," and "death panels" has worked for the GOP in the midterm elections. Demanding that those of influence on both sides voluntarily dial it back, that (this guy aside) violent words DO have violent consequences, and reminding America of this widely, loudly and unceasingly--as well as reminding the voters just who took their jobs, put their home equities underwater, and are profiting from GOP victories--are about the only tools we have to keep the Presidency and Senate from falling into the hands of those who wrecked this economy and profit from keeping it broken.
Obama is not perfect. I remind those on the left how much he WAS able to accomplish in the first half of his first term. I remind those in the center that he did NOT lie or fail to keep his promises--hope, change and healing were not his promises, only his avowed goals. A broken and abused set of Senate rules, and a GOP dedicated solely to seeing him fail, kept all of his goals from becoming reality. He surrounded himself with supply-side economists from Wall St. because the Keynesians and demand-siders are all in academia--and gov't cannot match their salaries, benefits or job tenure. (And the third alternative: do we really want the equivalent of liberal counterparts of inexperienced Tea Party rookies running the show)? Obama hoped a Dem-majority Congress would temper his imperfect experts' pro-corporate connections and run with the ball--instead, they were blocked by the rules and the GOP at every turn. He is not the Second Coming, nor is he Satan.
And I warn my fellow liberals that to try to find someone more liberal to challenge him in the primaries and caucuses will be disastrous. It always is. Every time in modern history that an incumbent Democratic President has been "primaried," not only have the Republicans won, but they have won for at least two and (starting in 1980) three more terms in a row. Until all Blue Dog Dems turn liberal, until the 60-vote cloture rule is reduced to a simple majority, and as long as anonymous filibusters and secret holds remain in force, nobody more liberal than Obama can win in 2012. The best he can do is dig in his heels and refuse to compromise any longer--in which case truly nothing further can be accomplished (and the GOP accusations against him will change from "socialist" to "do-nothing," which low-info voters will swallow like soda pop). No other Democrat, in fact, can pull this one out of the fire in 2012. The perfect is indeed the enemy of the good---and in this case, the "good" is better than the spinmeisters on both sides would have us believe.