It was a little too close for comfort when the political action committee of former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin used crosshairs in ads to "target" Democrats for defeat. A number of lawmakers had received death threats during and after the vote on healthcare overhaul, and when Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head while she was meeting constituents at a shopping center, the threats became scarier. While it appears that Giffords's shooter was motivated not by ideology but simple craziness, the episode doesn't excuse the tastelessness of using gun-related imagery in connection with the democratic elections process.
Palin's ads, however, were done before Giffords was shot. What can explain the judgment of the Move America Forward Freedom PAC, which sent out an E-mail depicting the district's GOP contender holding an assault rifle?
According to NPR, which broke the story, the PAC said, in backing Republican Jesse Kelly:
While we applaud the former Congresswoman's recovery, this race is not about Gabby Giffords. We want to give the people of Arizona a new voice that reflects their values.
What values are those—that guns are the way to resolve conflicts and win elections? That if the Democrat, Ron Barber, wins the race, he better watch his back? The E-mail is even more offensive because Barber, who was an aide to the former congresswoman, was injured as well in the January 2011 assault.
Kelly, who faces Barber in a special election Tuesday for the seat, is complaining, too, about having the assassination attempt used against him for political purposes. Democrats have been showing a tape of Kelly calling Giffords "a hero of nothing," a comment that sounds horrific when heard in the context of her near-death from the shooting. But the comments were made before Giffords was shot.
Said Kelly to reporters:
To try to exploit a tragedy to win a special election is one of the saddest things I've ever seen in my life. It's exactly what they're doing.
Point taken. But using an image of a candidate with an assault weapon is distasteful in any campaign. In the race to succeed Giffords, it is unconscionable.
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