The Spectacle Blog

Why It Will Be Hard to Have National Dialogue About Political Tone

By on 1.12.11 | 10:04AM

A number of commentators have argued that even though there's no evidence that Jared Loughner's actions had anything to do with political rhetoric, it's still worthwhile to have a national conversation about changing the tone of political debate. Many conservatives have pushed back, arguing that such a debate can only happen after a period of time has passed. But that's only partly right. I think there may have been an opportunity for such a debate in the wake of the Tucson shooting, but the left has likely made that impossible. By rushing to politicize the tragedy before any evidence was in, liberals immediately poisoned the political well, and so now whenever a liberal talks in terms of moving away from "violent political rhetoric," "changing the tone" or "ending the climate of hate" it's perceived as a euphemism for attacking Sarah Palin, Fox News, the Tea Party and conservative talk radio. Had liberals held their judgment in the wake of the shooting, and only after facts were in, said, "Clearly political rhetoric isn't to blame for this, but now is a good time anyway to have a national conversation about tone..." it would have been a different story. But when you unleash a furious assault on conservatives right out of the gate, it's hard to change course and expect to have a civil conversation about political tone.

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