Rhetorical Excess

Rhetorical Excess

by digby

I couldn't help but notice Arizona Representative Trent Franks all over television lugubriously bemoaning the horrible events of yesterday. He just appeared on Candy Crowley's show and said this in response to Sheriff Dupnik's comments yesterday about "the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country that is getting to be outrageous."

Franks: Even in these circumstance, first of all I think our focus should be upon the tragedy that occurred here and I think it's unfortunate to inject the comments that the Sheriff did in this case because he has been heavily involved in the whole immigration issue and he found himself in this case at ends even different than Miss Giffords. And I think that he's carrying on that debate even in this tragic moment and I think it's unfortunate.

Crowley: Probably should say that you all have been personally affected by this and that sometimes you say things you might not want to. The point being that there is now going to be this conversation about "why?" And right now we are seeing "the political conversation is terrible, it is heated rhetoric, we are seeing unhinged people to do things." Do you see a link between increased sharp rhetoric, sometimes aggressive rhetoric, violent rhetoric, whatever you want to call it, in the political forum and this type of heinous activity.

Frank: Sometimes in any human dynamic there are so many factors that it becomes difficult to really analyze it. But sometimes you can see a central element, and that central element is this unhinged lunatic that had no respect for human life was willing to make some grand statement, I don't know if he even knows what grand statement he was willing to make to take the lives of his fellow human lives to do it. And there is the problem, a lack of respect for innocent human life. It's a lack of respect for the constitution, for freedom.

It's interesting that he would say that. And even more interesting that Crowley didn't think to ask him about this comment of his at last year's How To Take Back America conference:

Obama's first act as president of any consequence, in the middle of a financial meltdown, was to send taxpayers' money overseas to pay for the killing of unborn children in other countries...there's almost nothing that you should be surprised at after that. We shouldn't be shocked that he does all these other insane things. A president that has lost his way that badly, that has no ability to see the image of God in these little fellow human beings, if he can't do that right, then he has no place in any station of government and we need to realize that he is an enemy of humanity

Not that there's any direct correlation, but you can't help but think of this when you read that:

Don Coorough, 58, who sat two desks in front of Mr. Loughner in a poetry class last semester, described him as a “troubled young man” and “emotionally underdeveloped.” After another student read a poem about getting an abortion, Mr. Loughner compared the young woman to a “terrorist for killing the baby.”

That kind of rhetoric is so common that we hardly even notice it anymore, even when fanatics gun down abortion doctors, as happened just a year and a half ago. But you'd think it would still be just a little bit unusual for a member of Congress. And yet it's common. Just listen to Trent Franks himself on the floor of the House:

All morning I'm hearing the media and the politicians decrying the rhetoric on "both sides" with Matt Bai leading the charge in his NY Times article in which he dredges up the bogus "Move-On Hitler" nonsense (thus proving the case that there is very little equivalence on the left.) It's maddening.

Meanwhile, last night, Erick Erickson of Redstate tweets this:

The left and media, in perpetuating the lie that the shooter was a tea party activist, may wrongly incite violence against the right.

I kid you not.

There are certainly left wing people who spew incendiary and violent rhetoric. But they are few and far between compared to the drumbeat of hatred and consequential acts of violence we've seen over the past two years and none who make the kind of profit at it that the right wing noise machine does. There is no comparison, it's ridiculous to frame it that way. And it ends up distorting the truth, which is that we have a violent right wing political movement developing in this country with the help and acquiescence of a major political party which refuses to police its own.

This is the kind of thing Democratic office holders have been facing at every public meeting since Barack Obama was elected:

They sell t-shirts that say this at tea party rallies. Google it.

Perhaps the meaning of that has finally sunk in after yesterday's horror. I'm sure it crossed the minds of the congresspeople who were targeted with those signs at Townhall meetings. And since the media are continuing to normalize these statements by suggesting that it's all part of some incoherent left/right extremist rhetoric rather than a very specific intimidation tactic by a newly powerful right wing faction, they'll undoubtedly succeed in intimidating a few. The fact that some impressionable, mentally ill kid did the dirty work doesn't change that.

Update: If they succeed in forcing Sheriff Dupnik to resign because he told the truth, we are well and truly fucked, my friends.