The anniversary of the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has thankfully produced little of the partisan name-calling that the event initially provoked among Democrats. But you knew we could count on Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to provide a counterpoint to the general note of civility that has prevailed in the commemorations. In a speech in New Hampshire yesterday, the DNC leader blamed the Tea Party movement for the level of anger in public discourse and had the gall to implicitly link it to the Giffords shooting:
“We need to make sure that we tone things down, particularly in light of the Tucson tragedy from a year ago, where my very good friend, Gabby Giffords — who is doing really well, by the way — [was shot].” … I’ll tell you. I hesitate to place blame, but I have noticed it takes a very precipitous turn towards edginess and lack of civility with the growth of the Tea Party movement.”
Many liberals initially tried to blame the Tea Party or Sarah Palin or anybody else they could think of on the right for the shooting. But once it was established that the perpetrator was an apolitical lunatic, they quickly dropped that ploy though few, if any, apologized. It takes a special kind of chutzpah to dredge this nastiness up a year later and to do it while calling for more civility in politics.
Wasserman Schultz claims the Tea Party coarsened American politics and its adherents don’t merely disagree with liberals but treat them as “the enemy” and calls them “liars.” No doubt some Tea Partiers have used some rough language about their opponents, but given her own long record of attempting to demonize Republicans, does anyone really think the DNC chair is in any position to call them out for it? While one expects a party hack in her position to be a font of hyper-partisan verbal warfare, for her to carry out such attacks while posing as an advocate for good manners is comically outrageous. Her career is a standing rebuke to the notion that bad behavior in politics is strictly a conservative phenomenon.
That she would do it in the months after the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street movement, a leftist protest phenomenon that has injected–with the help of its liberal Democratic allies and cheerleaders such as President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi–a heightened spirit of class warfare into the public square, merely adds to the hypocrisy. In 2010, the Democrats tried and failed to portray the Tea Party, a genuine grass roots movement of taxpayers, as an assault on democracy. There’s little doubt they will try again in 2012.