Jacob Weisberg substantially blames “anti-government, pro-gun, xenophobic populism” for the horrific shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. There are numerous problems with his argument — Weisberg isn’t particularly shy about trying to make this a replay of the anti-conservative spin on the Oklahoma City bombing — but here’s the fundamental one: The political tradition he decries has existed in Arizona in some form since at least Barry Goldwater’s first Senate term and in its present incarnation for a good twenty years; some of the arguments he finds incendiary have been made since before the U.S. Constitution was ratified; and yet the best examples can find of violence this has inspired are two people who subscribed to a mishmash of left-wing and right-wing ideas, the second of whom is clearly insane. We might as well argue that Weisberg is whipping people into a violent frenzy against Tea Party attendees, radio talk show hosts, and Republican voters, which would be obvious nonsense.
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