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At least that was the case until last Saturday. And while a certain element of the collective attack orchestrated by the left with regard to Tucson is a reaction to that election, one would be naive to think that the majority of the orchestrators are backward-looking. The 2010 election is a done deal, and the reality of it is that Republicans cannot overturn anything substantial enacted by the 111th Congress, as long as Democrats hold the Senate and president Obama holds the veto pen.
The exploitation of the tragedy in Arizona is a dress rehearsal, an effort to see what forces can be marshaled together and focused on the progressives’ real target: the 2012 election.
Part of that focus is already playing itself out. Using the Arizona tragedy as a springboard, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) is calling for the re-instatement of the Fairness Doctrine; Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) is calling for a change in the nation’s dialogue “by will or by law;” the National Hispanic Media Coalition is asking the FCC to “update its definitions of hate speech in the media;” Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee has ordered government employees in that state not to go on “talk radio” stations during their work hours, singling out that particular part of the media and no other; and Rep. Bob Brady (D-PA) has drafted legislation to ban symbols or language which could be perceived as “threatening” or “inciting violence.”
It’s not flying. A CBS New poll revealed that 57% of Americans, including a plurality of Democrats, (49% vs. 42%) said they don’t believe Jared Loughner was motivated by “heated rhetoric.” This suggests that nearly six-in-ten Americans may also recognize that what progressives in Congress are doing is nothing more than a ham-fisted attempt to stifle debate leading up to arguably the most critical election in modern American history. One which may deal the kind of blow to progressive ideology from which it may never fully recover.
President Obama has just spoken out to the nation regarding the tragedy in Arizona. The focus of that speech reveals a great deal about where this nation is headed during the 2012 election cycle. According to an editorial by Juan Williams at Foxnews.com, the president was being “pressured by Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter and others on the left to use his speech in Tucson to castigate far-right vitriol on talk radio and cable news.” Mr. Obama, on the other hand, avoided such advice like the plague, as well he should have. In 2012, Obama will have no shortage of left-wing demagogues like Mr. Alter in his corner. But if he is to have a chance of getting re-elected, further alienating the Independent vote which turned against him in 2010 (and polling indicates a substantial majority would have disapproved of the Jonathan Alter route), would have been be decidedly foolish.
Progressive Democrats and their media enablers may want to throw themselves under the bus. Their attempted exploitation of a national tragedy has revealed a political tone-deafness best characterized as desperation. But I doubt the president will join them. Mr. Obama may be many things. Politically naive isn’t one of them.
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