As U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords fights for her life after a mad gunman shot her on Saturday, some Democrats and major media have moved to pin the blame for her attack on the tea party movement and conservatives like Sarah Palin, despite the fact that the shooter was both deranged and fascinated by left-wing politics.
Giffords' Democratic colleague, Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, told Mother Jones magazine within hours after the rampage that the “political tone and tenor” created by Palin and the tea party movement had set the stage for the shooting.
Grijalva said Palin's “apparatus” had put Giffords' and his own life at risk.
“Both Gabby and I were targeted in the apparatus in that cycle [saying] these people are ‘enemies.’” He added: “The Palin express better look at their tone and their tenor.”
The liberal New York Times was not far behind Grijalva, publishing a lead story headlined "Bloodshed Puts New Focus on Vitriol in Politics."
The Times insinuated that conservative criticism of President Barack Obama and his policies may have been at the root of this weekend's violence, noting that " it was hard to separate what had happened from the heated nature of the debate that has swirled around Mr. Obama and Democratic policies of the past two years."
The paper even suggested that tea party criticisms of Obama's healthcare plan, the debate over Arizona's new rules on police handling of illegal immigrants, and even the fact Giffords was Jewish could have played a role. The Times also claimed that the fact Palin's political action committee had targeted Giffords for defeat may have played a role.
But tea party figures and conservatives have assailed such characterizations.
Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, noted on his website that Giffords is “a liberal,” but added, “that does not matter now. No one should be a victim of violence because of their political beliefs.”
Indeed, the profile of the accused shooter, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, that continues to emerge is that of a deranged young man whose mind was deeply distubred, but who also tinkered with both anarchist ideas and left-wing politics.
ABC News reported Saturday night that Loughner had identified among his favorite books "The Communist Manifesto" by Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," and the fiction classic "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" — hardly the reading list of a Palin supporter.
Other clues have emerged about Loughner's persona from Arizona press reports:
- He is "described by friends and former classmates as a loner, prone to dressing in black regalia of boots, trench coat and baggy pants even on the hottest days."
- He was removed from Pima Community College "for causing disruptions in classrooms and the library, college officials said. His dispute with college officials prompted him to post a bizarre YouTube video declaring the college illegal under the U.S. Constitution and culminated in his suspension from campus."
- His rants against the government that have surfaced on the Internet don't suggest he had a conservative perspective on big government. Instead Laughner's MySpace featured a photo "showing a close-up picture of an automatic handgun sitting atop a book or paper titled 'United States History.'" Another video shows a masked man burning the American flag.
- "I can't trust the current government because of fabrications," Laughner wrote in a YouTube slideshow. "The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar."
- Loughner suggests that he was rejected from entering the U.S. Army to which he applied because he was offered a "mini Bible" during the recruitment process, but that he declined to "write a belief on my Army application and the recruiter wrote on the application: None."
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