Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, whose uncles John and Robert Kennedy both fell to assassins’ bullets, says there is a direct connection between Sarah Palin and the shooting rampage in Arizona that killed six people and wounded 14 others, including critically injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Kennedy indicated that he also blames the tea parties for the tragedy.
In an interview published on Politico Tuesday, Kennedy states: “When Sarah Palin puts targets on people’s districts? Or you have 10,000 signs on the mall during the healthcare battle saying ‘Bury Obamacare with Kennedy’? When the vitriol and the rhetoric is so violent, we have to connect consequences to that.”
Kennedy, the son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, has represented Rhode Island since 1995. He did not run for re-election and left the House of Representatives this month when the new Congress was sworn in.
Several pundits associated with progressive politics — Jonathan Chait of The New Republic, James Fallows of The Atlantic, Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast, and Juan Williams of Fox News — have denounced left-wing aspersions blaming conservatives for the acts of a deranged gunman.
There is no evidence that alleged shooter Jared Loughner ever mentioned Palin, or any other prominent conservative, in his writings and videos. He did profess an interest in the Communist Manifesto and Hitler’s Mein Kampf, however. In fact, there is evidence his fixation on Giffords dates to 2007, which predates the rise of both Palin and the grass-roots conservative movement.
Brent Bozell of the conservative Media Research Center watchdog organization told Newsmax on Monday that liberals seek nothing less than the “criminalization of conservative thought.”
Kennedy, who has endured a long struggle with chemical dependency, recently founded a nonprofit, “The Next Frontier.” He says it will act as a clearinghouse for scientific information on a variety of brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
In the Politico interview, an animated Kennedy appeared to come to Loughner’s defense, saying he and others had been unfairly stigmatized.
“When I hear terms about the alleged shooter in this case, pejorative terms like psycho, lunatic, or they say ‘He’s crazy.’ These are terms we use to describe someone’s mental health?
“This is a rare opportunity to take all the stigma and stereotyping,” Kennedy said, “and take the terms like crazy and psycho, that are being bandied about by reputable people who should know better, and use this as an opportunity to have some enlightened debate about better public policy that can help respond to the real need amongst many families whose family members are part of that very small subset of individuals who suffer from violent, paranoid schizophrenia.”
Although authorities have questioned Loughner’s mental function, no formal medical diagnosis of schizophrenia has been made.
Kennedy told Politico that, during the healthcare debate, he saw a sign outside Congress that read: “Bury Obamacare With Kennedy,” a reference to his father.
He later told The Providence Journal: “My family’s seen it up close too much with assassinations and violence in political life. It’s a terrible thing when people think that in order to get their point across they have to go to the edge of violent rhetoric and attack people personally.”
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