The evidence mounts that liberalism is dead. The liberal wizards, working their wonders at the New York Times and its clearinghouses in the major networks, cannot even dupe the American people with an absurd conspiracy theory anymore. In Dallas back in 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald, a pious communist awash in the Marxist-Leninist bilge, shot President John F. Kennedy. In no time, the liberals had the nation focused on the "dangerous right-wing atmosphere" supposedly pervading Dallas. Soon all the talk was of "the paranoid style" of American politics. Oswald was almost forgotten. Doubtless, there are fervent liberals living today in haunts in Massachusetts and Berkeley, Calif., who believe in their heart of hearts that the president was felled by Texas Republicans.
This time around, an obvious lunatic shoots 19 people in Tucson, killing six (one of whom was a Republican judge) and wounding 14 (one of whom is a Democratic congresswoman) and the liberals try again. With artifice and craft, they try to focus the nation's attention on the "heated rhetoric" of the right. Sarah Palin is trotted out. The Tea Partyers are cited. The venerable New York Times editorializes that "it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge." (Remember the Times' cosseting of the angry left back in 2008?) Today, however, the average American has had enough of this liberal garbagespiel, and so, in a CBS poll, nearly six in 10 Americans disagreed that the "country's heated rhetoric" had anything to do with the shooting. Liberalism has come to the end of the line. It is a bore.
Yet what kind of person directs our attention to the meaningless madness of a lunatic and tries to lecture us on the random concreteness of nouns appearing in the chaos of the poor wretch's attempts at thought? The accused gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, mentions "Mein Kampf." He mutters something about the gold standard. And my favorite - he advocated proper grammar, or perhaps he abominated proper grammar. He was not very clear.
Mr. Loughner is obviously a schizophrenic. I am no psychiatrist, but I would bet he is a paranoid schizophrenic. That is the most dangerous kind of schizophrenic. What he says might matter to his psychiatrist, but it has little significance to the outside world. Yet, apparently, it mattered greatly to Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. On Tuesday, he wrote in the New York Times: "Where's that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let's not make a false pretense of balance; it's coming, overwhelmingly, from the right." And, he continued, "It's hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents" to violence.
Mr. Krugman has been a columnist for the Times for a long enough time, covering a sufficient variety of political events, for us to deduce that he is a political nitwit. Other Nobel laureates have been nitwits - Betrand Russell, for instance. There are a lot of political nitwits in this world. Perhaps the Times could give Mr. Krugman a cooking column. He would be their Nobel Prize-winning cooking columnist.
Of course, examples of Democrats speaking loosely about violence toward Republicans have been piling up in blithe contradiction to this nitwit's asseveration. The inimitable James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal cites Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, joshing with Bill Maher about how "I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird [George W. Bush] with one stone." Mr. Taranto adds that in 1988, Mr. Kerry joked about the Secret Service being under orders, if George H.W. Bush were killed, "to shoot Quayle."
He quotes then-Rep. Paul Kanjorski in October saying (as Jeffrey Lord first reported in the American Spectator), "That [Rick] Scott down there that's running for governor of Florida. Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him [sic] and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him." Mr. Kanjorski alleged that Mr. Scott's transgression was stealing "billions of dollars from the United States government." Mr. Kanjorski was defeated in 2010. Mr. Scott was elected. Yet Mr. Kanjorski resurrected marvelously. He appeared Sunday on the op-ed page of the New York Times, counseling on the proper response to the Tucson shooting.
As I say, liberalism is dead. This hitherto unthinkable effort to blame the unhinged act of a lunatic on the language of the right without respect to the often more inflammatory language of the left is a cry from the grave. Rigor mortis has set in, comrades, and even your president suffers. On the campaign trail in 2008, Barack Obama said, "If [Republicans] bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." I am eager to read what Mr. Krugman does with broccoli.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is the founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is "After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery" (Thomas Nelson, 2010).
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