According to Business Insider, a woman claiming to have been a classmate of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ alleged shooter Jared Loughner says he has run into the Congresswoman once before and that he’s “left wing” and “quite liberal.” That comes as some on the left are trying to paint Loughner as one who succumbed to angry, Tea Party rhetoric.
Business Insider says Laughner’s classmate made the revelations about his political persuasions via her Twitter account:
While Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips condemned the attack on Giffords, he told The Hill was concerned the Tea Party movement would be blamed for the incident.
“While we need to take a moment to extend our sympathies to the families of those who died, we cannot allow the hard left to do what it tried to do in 1995 after the Oklahoma City bombing,” he said.
Debbi Dooley, a national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, echoed a similar sentiment to Congress.org. “A lot of people have bets on how long it will take before they blame this on the tea party and that’s absolutely ridiculous,” she said. Her group condemned the attack via Facebook.
“This heinous act will change the interaction between elected officials and their constituents,” the group’s Facebook wall said. “People also pray for the safety of congressmen, senators, President Obama and other elected officials in the aftermath of this shooting.”
Phillips and Dooley were right.
“Some prominent liberal bloggers wasted little time before politicizing the horrific and tragic shooting of a congresswoman in Arizona on Saturday,” Politics Daily’s Matt Lewis writes.
For example, Markos Moulitsas, founder of the liberal website DailyKos, sent numerous tweets chiding Palin and the right for the attack:
There’s more anti-conservative political rhetoric bubbling up Saturday evening from a number of Democratic members of Congress.
New Jersey Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell said he feels like the United States is slipping from the rule of law and order and used the opportunity to publicly lambaste Fox News. “There’s an aura of hate and elected politicians feed it, certain people on Fox News feed it,” Pascrell said.
“This hostile rhetoric, I hope we put it behind us and try to work on things to move this country forward,” Rep Albio Sires, D-N.Y. said. “Nobody knows why this guy shot all these people or shot [Giffords], but I just think this rhetoric has to change.”
Additionally, Arizona state Sen. Linda Lopez blamed the tea parties and their “horrible signs” and irresponsibly claimed that the gunman was a “veteran of the Afghanistan war” — an false assumption.
We have a number of stories on the front page showing others who have tried to pin the killer, and the killings, on the right, but here are some other examples.
While not specifically saying the “Tea Party” or Republicans, former presidential candidate Gary Hart described the right in a column on the Huffington Post saying that we have now “seen the results of this [angry] rhetoric.”
“Those with a megaphone, whether provided by public office or a media outlet, have responsibilities. They cannot avoid the consequences of their blatant efforts to inflame, anger, and outrage. We all know that there are unstable and potentially dangerous people among us. To repeatedly appeal to their basest instincts is to invite and welcome their predictable violence,” he said.
He added: “That this is carried out, and often rewarded, in the name of the Constitution, democratic rights and liberties, and patriotism is a mockery of all this nation claims to believe and almost all of us continue to struggle to preserve. America is better than this.”
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) did name the Tea Party specifically, and also Sarah Palin, while debriefing the shootings.
“[Grijalva] who represents a district adjacent to Gabrielle Giffords’s, said that Saturday’s shooting is a consequence of the vitriolic rhetoric that has arisen over the past few years among extreme elements of the Tea Party,” writes HuffPo. It continues:
“The climate has gotten so toxic in our political discourse, setting up for this kind of reaction for too long. It’s unfortunate to say that. I hate to say that,” Grijalva said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “If you’re an opponent, you’re a deadly enemy,” Grijalva said of the mindset among Arizona extremists. “Anybody who contributed to feeding this monster had better step back and realize they’re threatening our form of government.”
Grijalva said that Tea Party leader Sarah Palin should reflect on the rhetoric that she has employed. “She — as I mentioned, people contributing to this toxic climate — Ms. Palin needs to look at her own behavior, and if she wants to help the public discourse, the best thing she could do is to keep quiet.”