OK, that’s snarky, but I couldn’t help it.
Charles Blow, in this morning’s NY Times (Sat 1/15), makes a reasonable point about the damage liberals have done to ourselves by attributing to Sarah Palin responsibility for Jared Loughner’s attack in Tucson a week ago today. Reactions to her “blood libel” idiocy aside, it’s probably true that the rush (no pun intended) to pile on Palin almost certainly has damaged the possibility for real reconciliation (we’ll also set aside the extent to which reconciliation with the hard right is a worthy goal). And it’s very likely, over the long haul, to generate sympathy for her that: (1) her opponents don’t want to give her and; (2) she doesn’t deserve.
My problem with Blow’s argument isn’t that he’s wrong. It’s that he reinforces the extent to which people see what passes for liberalism in the mainstream media as actual liberalism. I’m sorry, but with very few exceptions, actual representatives of the left don’t show up on TV. The usual suspects–Paul Begala, James Carville, Donna Brazille, George Stephanopolous, et al (notice these are all Clinton administration veterans)–are barely even Democrats, much less actual liberals, much less lefties.
So the “polarization” that Blow and others have (correctly) accused the press of reinforcing isn’t really coming from the “poles.” It’s coming from a mainstream media that barely represents the left end of the spectrum at all, while attributing liberalism to voices that aren’t much less conservative than “conservatives.”
One other issue with his argument that I have to raise–just because…. His claim is premised on the idea that we all jumped on Sarah Palin before we really knew what had happened. Near the end of the column, he cites a poll in which 42% of respondents say they don’t think “political rhetoric” had anything to do with the shooting. I’m just curious: what evidence do those 1100 randomly chosen people scattered across the nation have that the rest of us don’t? That is, other than a handful of tidbits that we’ve learned about Loughner in the last few days, those poll respondents have no grounds whatsoever on which to make that determination that the talk-ocracy didn’t have a few days earlier. Or put more directly, why is it OK for poll respondents to exonerate Palin/Limbaugh/Beck/O’Reilly based on no more evidence than Palin/Limbaugh/Beck/O’Reilly were accused at first? If the claim “We don’t know what motivated him and probably never will” cuts one way, it cuts both, doesn’t it?