Monday, January 10, 2011

Behind the Headlines

I have found over the years that when one attempts to interpret the news as it is happening, the chances of being wrong are much greater. Commenting on the shooting of this last Saturday, therefore, is a somewhat risky venture.
I could be wrong, but I know the tug of war between political left and right is interrupted by very few events, and this one, as sad and violent as it was, still carries political implications which people are working to determine as I write, though they work mostly in secret.
Our political left has for some time accused the right of courting violence with the use of certain imagery in campaigns. And they have plenty of examples: Sarah Palin urging followers to not "retreat, but reload". Another candidate (a woman!) speaks of "second amendment remedies". A candidate invites people to bring and fire their guns at rallies. The radio right bases an entire industry on stirring anger from their listeners, while leaving others to have to deal with any violence they may generate.
Here's what's happening today. The left could profit if it were to successfully tie shooter Jared Loughlin to Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck. Congresswoman Giffords' last opponent or someone else in the GOP right. So they look for a written message, or a Loughlin statement, or e-mail or website to turn this into a political "smoking gun" as well as a literal one. The right, by contrast, needs a firewall between themselves and Loughlin which depends on Loughlin's insanity, or at least his lack of contact with the mainstream conservatives in order to keep doing what has worked so well for them the past two years.
To me, Loughlin seems to be such an unusual, unstable, repellent person that I doubt that the Democrats can really identify him simply as a follower of the GOP "shoot first and shoot later" strategy. Close, maybe, but no cigar.
But what about the GOP themselves? There certainly should be a voice of moderation somewhere saying "Fellows, we may not be so lucky next time. The next shooter could be someone they can tie directly to us, and we can't have that. We have to dial down the imagery. We're a nation with millions of guns, most just sitting in a closet, ready for someone to decide it's time to load, aim and fire. We can't have the next shooting on our heads."
But for now, that's still a minority voice. What you'll hear instead (maybe this week) will be things like: "Have you heard what the Dems are planning to do in order to get your guns?" "The Democrat Party is desperate, and they'll say anything to win the next election!" "Those people are willing to have the blood of innocent people put on your hands! Will you let that happen?" "Have you all heard that Loughlin's favorite book is 'The Communist Manifesto?'"
Am I over-dramatizing this? I don't know. The trouble is, no one ever organizes parades or marches behind a banner that says "MODERATION IN ALL THINGS", and no one shouts "Compromise Now!" Behind the headlines, people are working to control just what that headline will say.


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