Many liberal *commentators and establishment figures have leapt at the opportunity to blame conservative politicians.
The rush to make political capital out of a mass shooting shows just how nasty U.S. *politics has become
. Under Barack Obama, America is more polarised than it has been for 40 years.
Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama’s former chief of staff and a *figure compared to Labour’s Alastair Campbell, once said: ‘You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.’
And those on his side of the political divide have clearly seen the Tucson tragedy as an opportunity to score points
and settle scores.
None more so than with Sarah Palin, a politician who is almost as divisive as the President. The former Republican vice-presidential contender has become a spiritual figurehead for many Tea Party supporters, but is loathed by many on the Left.
So it was that within minutes of the Tucson shooting, anti-Palin internet bloggers and Twitter users were highlighting a so-called ‘target map’ Mrs Palin had posted on her Facebook page last March.Controversially, it used gunstyle crosshair targets to flag up Democrat politicians whom Palin felt could be vulnerable at the polls: Miss Giffords was one.
Despite the lack of any *evidence that the Tucson gunman had supported Mrs Palin, let alone seen the graphic, *critics — including senior *Democrats in Congress — have decreed she is somehow culpable
Yet her critics choose to *forget the crosshairs could be all a part of her image as a hunter of big game. (It is worth noting, too, that Miss Giffords had been photographed *handling a semi-automatic weapon — no doubt aware it would appeal to a certain *voting constituency
Palin’s favourite maxim — inherited from her father — is ‘Don’t Retreat, Reload’, a *typically bullish phrase she’s been trotting out for months as an injunction on the faithful to stick to their political principles.
Since the Tucson shooting, Left-wing critics have leapt on the words as some kind of proof that she was encouraging *supporters to use real weapons
Other far more loaded Republican comments are being quoted by those keen to make a connection between the *Tucson shooting and inflammatory political rhetoric.
Even the actress and activist Jane Fonda waded into the row with a succession of internet tweets blaming Mrs Palin
, the Tea Party and Glenn Beck, a rabble-rousing broadcaster on Fox News, for the shooting.
The Tea Party leaders have been rushing to condemn the shooting and distance themselves from the gunman.
Whether they should really have to do so is another matter. The reality is that there is as yet no evidence that the political Right, and the Tea Party in *particular, has — as its opponents say — ‘blood on its hands’ over the Tucson murders.
While some liberals have slyly implied that Loughner was a Tea Party supporter, former classmates remember him as being ‘Left-wing’ and ‘liberal’.
Another said he was ‘on his own planet’, which seems nearer the mark. No existing political organisation - including the Tea Party - comes close to championing Lough-ner’s deranged world view.
Paranoid and nihilistic (he kept a miniature altar with a replica human skull in his backyard), he had clearly surfed the wilder shores of political views on the internet, preaching about the evils of religion, and even picking up and espousing a theory that the government was using grammar as a form of mind control.
History shows how dangerous it is to try to second-guess the motives of political assassins.
John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan because he was obsessed with the actress Jodie Foster, not because he hated Right-wingers.
Likewise, Lynette Fromme tried to shoot Gerald Ford because she revered the cult killer Charles Manson.
But those lessons from *history won’t stop some Democrats exploiting the shooting of a nine-year-old girl and five others at the weekend with precisely the sort of foam-flecked over-reaction for which they love to condemn their opponents on the right