By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Last weekend, President Obama gave the commencement address at the University of Michigan and spoke about the loss of civility in political debate:
“It makes it nearly impossible for people who have legitimate but bridgeable differences to sit down at the same table and hash things out. It robs us of a rational and serious debate, the one we need to have about the very real and very big challenges facing this nation. It coarsens our culture, and at its worst, it can send signals to the most extreme elements of our society that perhaps violence is a justifiable response.”
Of course I agree with the President that political debate over the last year has degenerated, especially on the cable-TV shoutfests. But that last sentence of his goes too far. It’s part of an ongoing theme of his--that his political opponents are extremists who may become violent--and part of a broader agenda on the left to paint Tea Partyers as crazies who could cross the line from waving signs to brandishing guns at any minute.
Two days after the President spoke, CBS News anchor Katie Couric asked New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg if he had any idea who the Times Square bomber might be. According to CBS, he responded, “Homegrown, maybe a mentally deranged person or someone with a political agenda that doesn't like the healthcare bill or something.” Before a suspect with possible ties to the Taliban in Pakistan, Faisal Shahzad, was arrested late Monday, many writers on the left jumped on the it-could-be-a-Tea-Partyer bandwagon. Today’s Daily Caller calls them out, and so does InfoWars. Here are just two examples:
In The Nation, Robert Dreyfuss wrote: “It may be that the Pakistan-based Taliban, the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has quietly established a Connecticut franchise while we weren't looking. That's possible. But it seems far more likely to me that the perpetrator of the bungled Times Square bomb plot was either a lone nut job or a member of some squirrely branch of the Tea Party, anti-government far right.”
Politico’s Arena discussion featured Washington & Lee law professor Timothy Stoltzfus Jost: “... If, as seems unlikely, the bomb is linked to south Asian or Middle Eastern terrorists, questions will again arise as to whether Homeland Security is doing all it can do to keep us safe. If, as I believe much more likely, the bomb was placed by a right-wing lunatic, it seems to me that questions need to be raised as to whether the right wing media bears some responsibility for stoking the delusions of such people through its relentless and often unfounded attacks on the Obama administration and the federal government ... ”
There’s a big difference between having legitimate concerns about the size and scope of our government and being a terrorist. When Democrats were out of power a few years ago, the left considered dissent to be the highest form of patriotism. Now that the midterm elections are looming, the left paints dissent as the next closest thing to terrorism. Don’t they see that what they’re doing is its own form of extremism?