Conservative commentators on Monday pushed back at liberals’ argument that the Tea Party movement and Republican politicians had contributed to a climate that might have encouraged Saturday's shootings of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., federal judge John Roll, and others.
Events such as the killings in Tucson "are seen first as political opportunities" by those pointing fingers, Rush Limbaugh said on his radio program Monday, likening the discussion to the one held in the wake of the Oklahoma City Bombing nearly 16 years ago. "The Republicans had nothing to do with the bombing at Oklahoma City, but it was seen as a political opportunity for Bill Clinton."
He added, "In continuing this template and narrative that the Tea Party and Sarah Palin, that talk radio and Fox News, are inspiring violence, they forget that, in the process of so doing, they are attacking what is now a majority of America."
Beck: Hold those who commit violence responsible
In an open letter posted on his web site, Fox News host Glenn Beck wrote, “Turning these horrific events into an opportunity for a political attack is a very childish response to a very grown-up problem. This is not about winning a political blame game.”
He said, "All evidence points to the fact that the assailant from this weekend was severely mentally disturbed. His belief system was not rational by any modern political standard."
Beck urged Americans to join him in a pledge to condemn the use of violence "regardless of ideological motivation."
As part of that pledge he declared, "I hold those responsible for the violence, responsible for the violence. I denounce those who attempt to blame political opponents for the acts of madmen."
In Tucson on Monday, in comments reported by the New York Times, radio talk show host Jon Justice said that blaming radio hosts for inciting the shootings of Giffords and others was "like blaming Jodie Foster for the individual who shot Ronald Reagan.”
John Hinckley, who shot Reagan in 1981, was obsessed with Foster, a popular actress at that time, and thought that killing Reagan would gain him esteem in her eyes. At his trial Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Conservative historian and pundit Victor Davis Hanson wrote on National Review’s web site that, "In the times of national uncertainty and fear that immediately follow hideous mass shootings, this cheap habit of channeling insanity into politics always surfaces but never convinces — as we learned from the deplorable tactic of blaming the Oklahoma City bombing on conservative talk radio."
Hanson denounced "political vultures who scavenge political capital as they pick through the horrific violence."
He reminded readers that in the wake of the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, "commentators pontificated about a right-wing 'climate of hate' in Dallas, Texas, that supposedly explained why a crazed avowed Communist — pro-Soviet, Castroite 24-year-old Lee Harvey Oswald — shot President Kennedy."
Referring to the complaint of Sarah Palin’s political organization putting a symbol of a target on Democratic candidates, including Giffords, conservative pundit Brian Faughnan complained on his Twitter account that, “Libs weren't so angry the last time an Arizona Rep was targeted w/ crosshairs in election ad.”
A Republican in the target
Faughnan pointed to a television ad run by Democratic congressional candidate Harry Mitchell in 2006 against Republican opponent Rep. J.D. Hayworth.
Mitchell’s ad featured a target symbol superimposed over grainy black-and-white video imagery of Hayworth’s face, as the narrator said Hayworth was “the focus of the Justice Department’s investigation” in the Jack Abramoff case.
Mitchell defeated Hayworth in 2006, but lost last November to Republican David Schweikert.
Expressing his disgust with the torrent of instant analysis of the Tucson shooting, Michael Moynihan of the libertarian Reason magazine said on his Twitter account Saturday, “Man, what was that, 10 mins before bloggers, pundits, DC hacks said shooting reaffirmed their ideology? God, I hate everyone in this town.”