Political Discourse Hasn't Changed in 200 Years
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, addressing the press in New Hampshire after the primary, opined on the tea party, linking the growth of the movement to the shooting in Tuscon of Representative Gabrielle Giffords:
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--The discourse in America, the discourse in Congress in particular...has really changed, I'll tell you. I hesitate to place blame, but I have noticed it take a very precipitous turn towards edginess and lack of civility with the growth of the Tea Party movement.Really, she didn't hesitate for very long. And the general idea--that divisive political rhetoric was somehow to blame for the tragic shooting--is nothing new. In fact, the theme appeared almost immediately, following the shooting. And blame for such rhetoric was placed squarely on conservative and Tea Party shoulders. In particular Sarah Palin was blamed, largely because of the graphics she had used on a map for potential "targets" in upcoming elections.
These new comments by Wasserman-Schultz have ignited a wave of commentary already, with opinions largely following those previously expressed, as conservative and right-wing writers and pundits criticize her for trying to make the linkage while liberal, progressive, and left-wing writers and pundits credit her for speaking the truth.
But what's amazing about all of this, in my opinion, is the near-infinitesimal memory of those claiming that there has even been a heretofore unprecedented increase in divisive--and violent--political rhetoric and imagery. They have no concept of American history in this regard, whatsoever.
During the previous administration--that of George W. Bush--rhetoric was every bit as divisive, especially during the aftermath of the 2000 Election and during the years following the invasion of Iraq. Aside from various calls to waterboard and torture various members of the administration, there was a constant barrage of violent imagery criticizing the President. Hell, a movie was made with the theme of assassinating him.Continued on the next page