Some Democrats seek to dial back overheated rhetoric on shootings

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On the same show, longtime Democratic Party strategist Bob Beckel said, “I think its a perfect example of people trying to take advantage of a situation before they actually know the facts. The reason this guy did what he did was because he was a lunatic, and he should have been stopped by the psychiatric community before this.”

In a speech Wednesday at the Center for American Progress, Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, cautioned against blaming a political faction. He also complimented the House speaker for suspending legislative action.

“Many observers have already reduced this tragedy to simple questions of whether overheated rhetoric is to blame, or one partisan group or another,” the senator said. “And surely today many pundits and politicians are measuring their words a little more carefully and thinking a little more about what theyre saying. But in the weeks and months ahead, the real issue we need to confront isnt just what role divisive political rhetoric may have played on Saturday, but its the violence [that] divisive, overly simplistic dialogue does to our democracy every day.”

Earlier Wednesday, Mrs. Palin posted a video on her Facebook page that accused journalists and pundits of inciting hatred and violence.

“But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible,” she said.

The term “blood libel” is the false allegation that Jews kill non-Jews, especially Christian children, to acquire blood for the Passover or other Jewish rituals, according to the Jewish Virtual Library. The Associated Press said it has been used in other contexts, and Mrs. Palin’s meaning was not clear. Her aides did not immediately respond to e-mail from the news organization.

“There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal,” Mrs. Palin said. “And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those ‘calm days’ when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols?

The liberal campaign got much of its energy from Pima County, Ariz., Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a liberal Democrat. He held a press conference after the shooting rampage to blame conservative speech and quickly became the most quoted man in America.

What first struck conservatives about the barrage is that the reporters and pundits provided no evidence to link conservative speech to the crime. As more facts about Mr. Loughner emerged, the public learned he was not some tea party loyalist, but a possibly mentally ill loner who had repeated run-ins with the police. Sheriff Dupnik acknowledged on Fox News he had no evidence for his indictment of conservative talk radio.

A friend of Mr. Loughner’s told ABC News on Wednesday, “He did not watch TV. He disliked the news. He didnt listen to political radio. He didnt take sides. He wasnt on the left. He wasnt on the right.”

Secondly, if references to “targets” and guns amounts to a climate of hate that caused the Tucson tragedy, such references can be found on the political left.

The Daily Kos website, for example, had put Mrs. Giffords on — its words — a “bull’s-eye” list of Democrats who should be defeated in the party primary for voting against President Obama.

The Democratic Leadership Council also put out its own election map with targets on Republican districts.

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