Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Most analysis of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Arizona has focused on hate-filled, right-wing rhetoric as the impetus for the gunman's act of violence. The news turned yesterday to President Barack Obama's appearance at a memorial service for the shooting victims.
There is irony in Obama's speech because, in our view, he helped set the stage for the tragedy in Tucson. The president undoubtedly did not intend for blood to be shed at a political event. But his limp response to Republican lawlessness during the George W. Bush administration--plus voters' endorsement of a right-wing agenda in the 2010 midterm elections--helped create the toxic environment that led to the Giffords shooting.
The underlying causes of Jared Loughner's shooting spree go beyond ugly right-wing rhetoric. They also include ugly right-wing actions during the previous administration. Obama essentially has excused those actions, and many voters have more or less approved them by putting one house of Congress back in GOP hands. In our view, that means the president and large chunks of the voting public share in the blame for Saturday's bloodshed.
Are we going too far? Well, consider that one of Obama's first acts after being elected president--before he had even taken office--was to announce that he was going to take a "look forward, not backwards" approach to the apparent crimes of officials in the Bush administration. This gave Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and Bush himself (among others) a free pass for torture, warrantless wiretapping, political prosecutions, the unlawful firings of U.S. attorneys, and other wrongs--not to mention taking the country to war in Iraq on bogus grounds.
Here is something Mrs. Schnauzer and I have learned in our roughly 10-year battle against corrupt lawyers and judges, who have mostly been Republicans: The modern conservative movement features a significant number of adult bullies. And the last thing you want to do when dealing with bullies, of any age, is to embolden them.
Adult bullies, after all, are just overgrown children who are overdue for a good spanking. But how did Obama handle the Bush crowd? He said, in so many words, "We're not going to hold you accountable for your lying, stealing, cheating, and other abhorrent acts. We're going to overlook it and move 'forward.'"