Before the shootings the Republicans were rearing and plunging as they burst out of the starting gate for the new Congressional session. John Boehner (dry eyed when talking about what happened in Tucson) went through a couple of cambric kerchiefs wiping the tears from his eyes in his “maiden” address as Speaker while down on the floor manly Republicans like Steve King of Iowa exulted that the blood-dimmed tides of payback were about to be loosed.And on Obama:
It was King, back in September, who fretted that the Republican leadership might go soft on reforming Obamacare, and that “a blood oath” of fortitude was necessary. It was King too who talked about the necessity of there being “blood on the floor” in the struggle for America’s future. Their first legislative target, Obama's health insurance bill, which passed into law last summer, was rolled out under the title, ‘Repeal of the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act'. They just couldn’t get enough of blood or killing. One columnist did a search on how many bills have had the word "killing" in the title. He found that "almost no legislation in 20 years used the word".
Then real blood splattered across the parking lot of a Tucson Safeway. The sheriff of Pima Country blamed poisonous rhetoric. Panic-stricken Republicans spent the next two weeks embarking on a fairly successful campaign to persuade the press that two years worth of incendiary, para-homicidal rhetoric could by definition have absolutely no measurable effect on any psychotic in America, including Loughner. Liberal pundits like Jonathan Alter obediently clicked their heels and agreed that putting targets on electoral maps was as influential in measurable consequence as sticking a soft toy on the window of a Volvo.
They may have counter-attacked with some effect in this skirmish, but even now about a third of the country still believes that violent political rhetoric helped provoke Loughner's rampage.
The Republicans have lost their ’mo, at least for a while. But efforts by their leaders to damp down the bellicosity of newly elected Tea Party types is running into the fact that the Tea Partiers have only the high volume setting on their amplifiers, just like Palin. They're like a couple having a fight at a funeral; politely sotto voce, then suddenly bursting out fortissimo with their plaints and accusations.
Meanwhile Obama is looking more chipper than he has in the whole of the last year, a unifier at last, acting presidential as he triangulates just as Bill did in 95 and the years thereafter. Clinton and Gore “reinvented government” and Obama vows to do away with irksome regulations (like storing long form birth certificates securely) that hold America back.Cockburn's a little tough here on Obama, but only a little. I actually think that Obama will prefer his new 'situation'. This way he doesn't really have to lead, only 'facilitate', which seems to be his preferred M.O.
Where is Monica Lewinsky now that we need her? Coming off the Tucson memorial service and the performance of the intern who may have saved Giffords’ life Slate compiled a list of Great Contributions by Interns in History. Of course it failed to include Monica Lewinsky and her almost single-handed salvation, exclusively reported here in CounterPunch, of Social Security which Clinton was on the very edge of “reforming” before the scandal forced him to drop his plans.