Joseph Welch, Thou Shouldst Be Living At This Hour (Armed Democrats, and Paul Krugman Edition)

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on January 10, 2011

Via Soren Dayton comes this video of 2010 Democratic Congressional candidate Tommy Sowers:

Notice that he goes beyond maps with targets, and actually shoots a gun after criticizing his Republican incumbent opponent.

And of course, we all remember this ad from the man who is now the junior Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, who put a cap in the cap-and-trade bill:

Obviously, we must condemn these expressions of political violence. Obviously, I snark; we really don’t need to do anything, because neither Sowers nor Manchin could possibly be held responsible for inspiring anyone to commit an act of violence merely because they appeared in ads with guns. Which leads one to ask again: How is it that Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, the Republican party, and the center-right movement in general can be held responsible for having inspired Jared Lee Loughner to perform despicably lunatic acts this past Saturday, especially given the fact that his bizarre interest in Gabrielle Giffords began over three years ago?

Not one to give up a rhetorical Titanic, even when it is obvious that it is sinking, and even when it is obvious that he is partly to blame for the collision with the iceberg, Paul Krugman tries to maintain the fictions of the moment. I really don’t even need to fisk this one from Alpha to Omega; it fails completely to tell us what Phase 2 is supposed to be. But consider the following Krugmaniacal statement:

Last spring Politico.com reported on a surge in threats against members of Congress, which were already up by 300 percent. A number of the people making those threats had a history of mental illness — but something about the current state of America has been causing far more disturbed people than before to act out their illness by threatening, or actually engaging in, political violence.

Is it possible that some of the threats may have been made against Republicans? I wouldn’t be surprised; Sunday night, on CNN, Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz told John King that “I just completed my first term in Congress. I’ve only been there 24 months. But unfortunately, I’ve had my share of threats.” Is Chaffetz lying? Supremely doubtful; there is no reason for him to lie, and if he did lie, the sergeant-at-arms, and the Capitol Hill police, whom Chaffetz says he engaged, could dispute his comments.

Could other Republicans also have gotten death threats? Sure. Is it possible that some of them might have been from Democrats? Why not? Why doesn’t Krugman mention any of these possibilities? Could it be because he cannot dismiss them, and therefore claim that only Republicans have been issuing threats? Could it be that mentioning and acknowledging the possibility that Republicans may also have gotten death threats might mess with Krugman’s narrative, which is that Republicans are solely and exclusively responsible for any increase in violent rhetoric?

There is also this:

Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be “armed and dangerous” without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.

And there’s a huge contrast in the media. Listen to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann, and you’ll hear a lot of caustic remarks and mockery aimed at Republicans. But you won’t hear jokes about shooting government officials or beheading a journalist at The Washington Post. Listen to Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, and you will.

Need we bring up anew Krugman’s own propensity for violent rhetoric, a propensity he shares with other Democrats, and left-of-center pundits? Did Krugman miss all of this? Did he also miss all of this, and the following excerpt?

. . . anyone who was awake through the last 10 years — as opposed to just the last 2 — knows that violent and hateful rhetoric has been a recurring theme of the left. But you would never know it from the establishment media. The death threats at anti-Bush rallies? The establishment media must have been out on an eight-year smoke break. Did they wring their hands over The Bush assassination porn in movies, books and art? Not really. When a man — an avowed MSNBC viewer — was convicted of threatening Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) in the aftermath of the healthcare debate, was there a concerted stroking of chins, or wagging of fingers? How about when a man made a bomb threat against a Republican fundraiser featuring Senate candidate Linda McMahon? When fmr. Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) suggested that Rick Scott, now the Republican Governor of Florida, be shot? How about when Sarah Palin’s church was burned down? (Aside: Imagine the media coverage had Obama’s church had been burned down.) How about when then-candidate Obama bragged that he would bring a gun to a knife fight? That was not condemned, but celebrated as scrappy an pop-culure savvy. The list goes on and on. When Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 and wounded 30 at Fort Hood, it was very important to the NYT and CNN that no one speculate on a possible motive; now both are keen to blame the rhetoric of others for the actions of Jason Loughner.

Here is a rather fascinating link taken from that excerpt, which features the following comment from Democratic Representative Paul Kanjorski–a longstanding member of Congress, mind you–on the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott:

“That Scott down there that’s running for governor of Florida,” Mr. Kanjorski said. “Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him [sic] and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. He stole billions of dollars from the United States government and he’s running for governor of Florida. He’s a millionaire and a billionaire. He’s no hero. He’s a damn crook. It’s just we don’t prosecute big crooks.”

I guess that Paul Krugman really doesn’t know how to use Google.

Incidentally, Krugman yesterday solemnly put his hand on The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, and swore that he “hated, hated, hated” writing this column. Yeah, right. Krugman enjoys dissembling about Republicans and the issues of the day the way you and I enjoy eating when we are hungry. His protestations of weariness with the issue carry about as much credibility as does his column.

I would say that I hate, hate, hate piling on and kicking Krugman’s credibility when it is down, but truthfully, I don’t. Here is Ezra Klein(!) undermining Krugman’s narrative by pointing out that–surprise!–Loughner’s mental illness was the factor that led him to engage in violence. The following excerpt is gleaned from an interview with Bryce Tierney, a childhood friend of Loughner’s:

Tierney, who’s also 22, recalls Loughner complaining about a Giffords event he attended during that period. He’s unsure whether it was the same one mentioned in the charges — Loughner “might have gone to some other rallies,” he says — but Tierney notes it was a significant moment for Loughner: “He told me that she opened up the floor for questions and he asked a question. The question was, ‘What is government if words have no meaning?’ ”

Giffords’ answer, whatever it was, didn’t satisfy Loughner. “He said, ‘Can you believe it, they wouldn’t answer my question,’ and I told him, ‘Dude, no one’s going to answer that,’” Tierney recalls. “Ever since that, he thought she was fake, he had something against her.”

Quoth Klein: “You imagine that Giffords might have gone home that night and laughed with her husband about the bizarre questions you sometimes get at these constituent meetings. And Loughner went home and began to stew.”

Right. Now, let’s turn over the microphone to Will Wilkinson, so he can join the rest of the Milky Way in pointing out the obvious to Paul Krugman & Company:

Got that? Ms Giffords failed to tender a satisfactory reply to “What is government if words have no meaning?”, was judged a fake, and…and Mr Loughner shot her in the head.

At this point, there is simply no sound reason to believe this deranged young man was fired up by “toxic” or “eliminationist” conservative rhetoric from Michele Bachmann or whomever. Why are we even having this conversation? It’s nuts. It’s offensive. Is there any, you know, evidence that political rhetoric is now more vitriolic or incendiary than usual? Maybe there is, but I know of none. A feeling in Mr Krugman’s gut doesn’t cut it. Doesn’t it seem at least as likely that a 22-year-old would be inspired to an act of high-profile atrocity by violent video games or films? As far as I know there’s no evidence of that, either.

Mr Loughner’s obsession with language as a form of control seems rather less like Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin than  Max Stirner, Michel Foucault, or even left-leaning linguists such as George Lakoff and Geoffrey Nunberg. Our own Johnson discusses speculation about the possible influence of one David Wynn Miller. But nobody’s going to try to smear Max Stirner, George Lakoff, or David Wynn Miller in the pages of the New York Times by recklessly associating their teachings with the tragedy in Tucson because, well, that would be completely bonkers and, more importantly, Max Stirner, George Lakoff, and David Wynn Miller didn’t just recapture the House.

Wilkinson’s blog post is titled “Krugman’s toxic rhetoric.” That’s putting it kindly.

I continue to believe that Loughner’s political views are as crazily mixed as the rest of his mind is. But to the extent that it is necessary to try to make some sense of his personal political platform, does this smack of a Palinite, Tea Partying, neoconservative, Bachman-loving, Cheneyesque conservative of the Reagan-Goldwater-both-Bushes-a Dole-and-a-Romney-in-a-pear-tree variety?

I wish that I could offer a palate cleanser at the end of this post, but . . . well . . . I can’t.

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  • Michael Mahoney

    The left has been looking for popular support to shred the Constitution. This, they surmise, is their opening.

  • Michael Mahoney

    The left has been looking for popular support to shred the Constitution. This, they surmise, is their opening.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_M2GAZG5C4Y56A4HTP5HK4R3K2A Gordon

    “How is it that Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, the Republican party, and the center-right movement in general can be held responsible for having inspired Jared Lee Loughner…?”

    That’s easy. Leftist media continues to post Palin’s cross-hair map for public view well after Palin removed it from her own website. Far more people have become aware of the map since the shooting than before. If the left truly believes that Palin’s cross hairs incited Loughner, then they should naturally expect that continuing to post the map will endanger the other congressmen whose districts were highlighted.

    So it’s a win-win for the Left. Blame Palin for Giffords’ shooting and possibly any congressmen that may follow as a result of the Left keeping the cross hairs before the public.

    On the other hand, the Leftist media may just be a bunch of insufferable phonies and they know it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_M2GAZG5C4Y56A4HTP5HK4R3K2A Gordon

    “How is it that Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, the Republican party, and the center-right movement in general can be held responsible for having inspired Jared Lee Loughner…?”

    That’s easy. Leftist media continues to post Palin’s cross-hair map for public view well after Palin removed it from her own website. Far more people have become aware of the map since the shooting than before. If the left truly believes that Palin’s cross hairs incited Loughner, then they should naturally expect that continuing to post the map will endanger the other congressmen whose districts were highlighted.

    So it’s a win-win for the Left. Blame Palin for Giffords’ shooting and possibly any congressmen that may follow as a result of the Left keeping the cross hairs before the public.

    On the other hand, the Leftist media may just be a bunch of insufferable phonies and they know it.

  • timothy

    I recall reading Krugman’s work as a grad student. He was a fine academic writer and I admired him. What a shame he has become (or has revealed himself to be) such a despicable human being.

  • Anonymous

    If this is indicative of Krugman’s methodology, and I must assume it is, then it seriously begs the question of how he could even have been nominated for a Nobel prize let alone win one. But then considering some of the past winners of the Peace prize I’ve answered my own question.

    Presented for your “Two-minutes of Hate” viewing pleasure I offer this link.
    http://michellemalkin.com/2011/01/10/the-progressive-climate-of-hate-an-illustrated-primer-2000-2010/

  • Anonymous

    One wonders what Paul Krugman would have made of Patrick Henry’s “Give me Liberty or give me Death” speech after the first Tea Party and the Intolerable Acts in response.

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