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Posted at 8:32 AM ET, 01/14/2011

The Morning Plum

By Greg Sargent

* The new normal in Congress? The sense this morning is that the political world is finally gearing up to return to business, and Paul Kane and Shailagh Murray say House Republicans are facing a major challenge. How do they restart the debate over repealing health reform -- a highly contentious topic -- without reviving the sort of rancor that will seem unseemly in the wake of the shooting?

* The media storyline: As Jake Sherman notes, the House Republicans' agenda remains "ambitious, aggressive and utterly unchanged."

The question dominating media coverage will be: How do they set the right tone in the quest to regain the political momentum they had hoped to build on after the November elections, before the massacre brought Congress to a halt and forced everyone to pledge to make nice? My bet is everything will revert to the old normal on both sides in around a month.

* The GOP's message discipline: Republicans will stick with their branding of the repeal push as "Repealing the Job Killing Health Care Act."

* Another psychologist says it's legit to ask about political climate: Psychologist Drew Westin seconds what a mental illness expert told me the other day: We should be asking whether hateful, violent, or incendiary language has the capacity to push people into violence.

What's interesting is that for Westin, the idea that we wouldn't be asking this question is ludicrous. One wonders why the voices of experts on this topic have been almost entirely absent from this conversation.

* Bipartisan seating at SOTU gaining steam? After Chuck Schumer endorsed the idea yesterday, House minority leader Steny Hoyer threw his weight behind the plan.

Hoyer's rationale: Though this effort won't end partisanship, it "can remind us that, no matter what our differences, we all come to Congress with the nation's best interests at heart."

* Also: GOP leaders are not explicitly endorsing the idea, but they note that members are free to sit where they want, so we really may see some mixing.

* Why aren't we -- and Obama -- talking about guns? Scott Lehigh adds his voice to those who wonder why the massacre hasn't sparked a national conversation about gun control, and elicited nothing from the White House along these lines.

* Relatedly, The Times has a big overview on whether there's any chance the massacre will lead to meaningful changes in gun laws. Sneak peek: There isn't.

* Historical comparison of the day: In Obama's speech, historian Garry Wills hears echoes of Lincoln at Gettysburg.

* A truce? National Review editor Rich Lowry says he appreciates the "spirit" of my truce proposal, though he differs on the details.

* Fact-check of the day: Glenn Kessler, the new writer of the Post's "Fact-Checker" column, skewers Darrell Issa's fishy use of numbers allegedly showing that Obama is bad for business.

* Liberal nightmare in the making: With the political world getting back to business, groups on the left are gearing up for a major campaign to prevent Obama from cutting a deal to cut Social Security.

* Friday comic relief: GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert warns against a return to a time when officials settled differences with duels -- while simultaneously pushing a bill to arm members of Congress.

* And we won't have Michael Steele to kick around anymore? Steele may get voted out today, because Republicans above all don't want an RNC chair who draws attention away from their presidential candidate.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | January 14, 2011; 8:32 AM ET
Categories:  Health reform, House Dems, House GOPers, Morning Plum, Political media  
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Next: Obama's Tucson speech will not 'change the tone' of politics

Comments

The Nation needs someone to work on the Economy and jobs.


Obama hands us a baseless smear campaign and a bogus Memorial service -

And tells us that his poll numbers should go up.


What a moron.......


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 14, 2011 8:34 AM | Report abuse

"Why aren't we -- and Obama -- talking about guns? Scott Lehigh adds his voice to those who wonder why the massacre hasn't sparked a national conversation about gun control, and elicited nothing from the White House along these lines. Relatedly, The Times has a big overview on whether there's any chance the massacre will lead to meaningful changes in gun laws. Sneak peek: There isn't."

Insanity.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

"Liberal nightmare in the making: With the political world getting back to business, groups on the left are gearing up for a major campaign to prevent Obama from cutting a deal to cut Social Security."

My guess: the deal is already cut. And as the anonymous House aide told Greg the other day: there won't even be resistance from rank-and-file Democrats.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Once again, kudos to Krauthammer, this time for his rejection of Limbaugh's anti-intellectualism... (see "Krauthammer takes on Limbaugh")

http://www.nationalreview.com/

Posted by: bernielatham | January 14, 2011 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Republicans have a presidential candidate?

(shades eyes, rotates head back and forth)

Where?

Posted by: caothien9 | January 14, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

"Historical comparison of the day: In Obama's speech, historian Garry Wills hears echoes of Lincoln at Gettysburg."


Good grief. "Historical" hysterics is more like it. Lincoln was prosecuting a civil war to save the union. Obama was speaking at a memorial service and proposing nothing.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

"One wonders why the voices of experts on this topic have been almost entirely absent from this conversation."

tap, tap, does this work? Is this thing on? tap, tap, tap...oh well

There are no experts on the topic of how the mentally ill decide or choose to do what they do in relation to external stimuli. The minimal research in this regard is coarse, whole population epidemiology. Even if loose correlations were found, there are too many interdependent variables to make definitive conclusions. We are talking about crazy people, after all.

Look, even TV-video-game-movie violence's effects on the hinged are still hotly contested after decades of research. No one is going to say changing America's political tone has to happen or more crazy people will go ballistic, that is silly.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 14, 2011 8:48 AM | Report abuse

If the RNC wants a disappearing act, they should hire Tim Kaine.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 14, 2011 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Reining in the NRA is going to take some real leadership currently nowhere in sight. Gun advocates have an answer to every gun problem in America and it's the same answer: more guns, and freer access to them.

If the unborn could aim and fire at doctors that'd bevtheir answer to abortion, too.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 14, 2011 8:53 AM | Report abuse

"No one is going to say changing America's political tone has to happen or more crazy people will go ballistic"

If anti-government paranoia is prevalent the odds of government officials being targeted for assassination go up. Some Muslims are mentally ill. There is a prevailing culture of Radical Islam that inculcates in mentally ill Muslims the idea that non-Muslims are evil and should be killed. The mentally ill Muslim is radicalized and kills non-Muslims. Is Radical Muslim ideology and rhetoric irrelevant?

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Later.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 8:56 AM | Report abuse

@wb - Not prudent to dismiss Garry Wills.... he's a very smart guy.

Posted by: bernielatham | January 14, 2011 8:58 AM | Report abuse

wb, I have no idea what you are saying at 8:54, but I heartily agree with your 8:47. I have a mindful of useless information, but I have the Gettysburg Address memorized.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 14, 2011 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Krugman today:

"One side of American politics considers the modern welfare state — a private-enterprise economy, but one in which society’s winners are taxed to pay for a social safety net — morally superior to the capitalism red in tooth and claw we had before the New Deal. It’s only right, this side believes, for the affluent to help the less fortunate.

The other side believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft. That’s what lies behind the modern right’s fondness for violent rhetoric: many activists on the right really do see taxes and regulation as tyrannical impositions on their liberty.

There’s no middle ground between these views. One side saw health reform, with its subsidized extension of coverage to the uninsured, as fulfilling a moral imperative: wealthy nations, it believed, have an obligation to provide all their citizens with essential care. The other side saw the same reform as a moral outrage, an assault on the right of Americans to spend their money as they choose"

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/14/opinion/14krugman.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 9:02 AM | Report abuse

"Not prudent to dismiss Garry Wills.... he's a very smart guy."

The road to perdition is marked by very smart guys.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 9:04 AM | Report abuse

@wbgonne "If anti-government paranoia is prevalent the odds of government officials being targeted for assassination go up. Some Muslims are mentally ill. There is a prevailing culture of Radical Islam that inculcates in mentally ill Muslims the idea that non-Muslims are evil and should be killed. The mentally ill Muslim is radicalized and kills non-Muslims. Is Radical Muslim ideology and rhetoric irrelevant?"

Is it your position that all the Muslims who are involved with Al-Queda & are suicide bombers, etc are mentally ill?

Posted by: jnc4p | January 14, 2011 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Oh I don't know, shrink. I think the whole issue of how the mentally ill are influenced by hate speech is a distraction and a fruitless one.

Suppose we were talking about pedophile. If somehow the attitude toward molesting children became steadily more permissive, it got so that pederasty was an understandable behavior in some circumstances, we don't need a lot of double-blind studies to know that pedophilia would increase.

And who would be doing the molesting? You ready? Not Mr. Normal or Mr. six-pack.

So when we have a political climate loaded with fear and hysteria and the looming suggestion that we stand at the edge of some precipice and that our freedoms are about to vanish unless some uh patriot takes decision action and waters the tree, nobody should be surprised that we get a sharp increase in political violence. And it's not Mr. Well-Adjusted Suburbia who pulls the trigger.

Mental illness isn't an explanation here, nor a mystery. It's a prerequisite.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 14, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

wbgonne writes
"There is a prevailing culture of Radical Islam that inculcates in mentally ill Muslims the idea that non-Muslims are evil and should be killed."

Huh? Where does your data about the mental state of radicalized muslims come from? I, of course, have no data of my own. Lets take muslims out of it for a moment. Do you think the people of Jonestown were mentally ill? And if so, were they mentally ill before they joined the Jonestown group, or did their membership in that group change their mental state such that they came to believe mass suicide was normal behavior?

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 14, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse

"Liberal nightmare in the making: With the political world getting back to business, groups on the left are gearing up for a major campaign to prevent Obama from cutting a deal to cut Social Security."

Let's have a Plumline pool predicting when the Democratic Establishment turns on these "groups on the left" that are resisting the coming attack on Social Security. I'll take today.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 9:10 AM | Report abuse

No way, THE Democrat guru and consultant Drew Westin?

Well that settles it. Palin and Beck and Limbaugh had better lawyer up after all.

Pardon me if my head is spinning a little, though. I was just looking back at an earlier thread where "advanced degrees" elscott was instructing me that no one who hasn't spoken before audiences of tens of thousands can understand someone speaking before tens of thousands.

So as I understand it, none of us is actually qualified to understand speeches like Obama's on Wednesday, but we do have the the ability to discern whether specific elements of the cacaphonous stimuli of "political culture" caused a person who cannot assemble intelligible sentences acts on messages coded in his morning Cheerios and secret messages from interdimensional travellers (just hypothetically speaking) to commit mass murder.

I learn so much every day here.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 14, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

"Is it your position that all the Muslims who are involved with Al-Queda & are suicide bombers, etc are mentally ill?"

No. Some are. Some aren't. Is it your position that none "of the Muslims who are involved with Al-Queda & are suicide bombers, etc are mentally ill"?

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

"and acts on"

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 14, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

wbg - about political history - I would like to see a nuts and bolts of how we passed tax reform in the 80s and how long it took from inception of the idea to overcoming widespread inertia. That would be useful in the coming debate about tax reform, for example, when again, each lobby will be fighting to hold its piece of a pie.

wbg and shrink - comparing the Tucson memorial speech to the Gettysburg Address would certainly make the Tucson speech seem unnecessarily long and inelegant when it was a good speech. There is a difference between "good speech" and - timeless. To the extent that we borrow tone from the GA we make a better speech. To the extent we learn brevity, we make a better speech. To the extent we turn a memorable phrase..., oh well, I agree with y'all in spades. No one should have gone there with that comparison.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 14, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Most people don't have an inborne moral compass, they get their cues about right and wrong from people around them. Muslims, pedophiles, assassins.

And one of the great promises of industrialization, now realized, is the isolation of Americans from any sense of community. We don't know our neighbors, we get our values from TV commercials, and our sense of political fellowship from trolls on the Internet.

I'm a few months into the adaptation of ... knowing people. Having contact with people who live around me. I didn't have that in the USA, and I don't think many people do.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 14, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

"Where does your data about the mental state of radicalized muslims come from?"

Reading about the personal history of Islamic suicide bombers. As for Jonestown, I think one is hard-pressed to argue that Jim Jones' rhetoric and ideology were irrelevant to the mass suicide, regardless of how many cultists were officially mentally ill. Certainly, those impaired by mental illness are more suggestible.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Maybe a less controversial question (not that we have to avoid controversy) about the use of violent rhetoric is related to what is gained by using that sort of language. Whether it incites violence or not, there is relatively little gain from needlessly cloaking yourself in violent methaphors.

I think Obama has to walk carefully on the gun control issue which is his own fault from his clinging to gun and religion comment. If he starts pushing gun reform, the right will quickly point to it as confirmation that he is everything they said he is and I think independents will largely buy it. So the question is whether or not he should do it in the face of the hits he will take politically for doing so.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 14, 2011 9:22 AM | Report abuse

wbgonne

How many people died at Gettysburg?

Obama and his people REALLY hurt him when they go overboard with the historical comparisons.

.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 14, 2011 9:23 AM | Report abuse

mark, yes, perfect!
qb, yes, couldn't have said it better
bsimon, yes, the Jim Jones point is germane
cao, yes, mental illness a distraction, community as moral compass, that's the ticket

You guys are on fire. I'm so agreeable, I have arched an eyebrow toward my cuppa, what is in this?

Posted by: shrink2 | January 14, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

cao said: "Most people don't have an inborne moral compass, they get their cues about right and wrong from people around them."

I'm not going to head off on this tangent here, but there sure are some interesting questions related to this. I find Chomsky's take (I've just seen him express it once and in passing) very compelling. He suggested that we're perhaps born with a moral capacity which is similar to our language capacity - plastic in the manner you suggest but built upon some sort of structure.

Posted by: bernielatham | January 14, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Pardon me if my head is spinning a little, though. I was just looking back at an earlier thread where "advanced degrees" elscott was instructing me that no one who hasn't spoken before audiences of tens of thousands can understand someone speaking before tens of thousands.

==

Wow. Just dripping with sarcasm, derision spilling over.

Tell me, qb, when you post something as viciously combative as that, do you feel "good?" Do you get fulfilled, satisfied feeling, the comfort of knowing your place in the world and the love of your fellow man?

Or do you have to bite your knuckles and rock back and forth?

Posted by: caothien9 | January 14, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

"I would like to see a nuts and bolts of how we passed tax reform in the 80s and how long it took from inception of the idea to overcoming widespread inertia."

Don't worry. Something called tax "reform" will pass, though it will almost certainly really be a corporate tax cut. Same for Social Security: it will be called "reform" and it will pass but it will actually be a cut. And anyone who complains or resists will be demonized by the Dem Establishment as a pony-rider.

Like I said, I have today in the PL pool for when the Est Dems turn on the "Looney Lefties" who resist the coming "bi-partisan compromises."

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

"Whether it incites violence or not, there is relatively little gain from needlessly cloaking yourself in violent methaphors."

ashotinthedark, well, too obvious, skip it.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 14, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Bernie: it's a topic of great interest to me. You need to read up on the moral stage theory of Lawrence Kohlberg. He says that not many people get past the stage of simple binary rules when it comes to morality, that true moral reasoning is actually rare, and in fact most people may be incapable of it.

And one can learn a lot about morality by watching oneself deal with moral questions. It's almost reflexive to ask how others deal with the same issues.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 14, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

"Like I said, I have today in the PL pool for when the Est Dems turn on the "Looney Lefties" who resist the coming "bi-partisan compromises."
--------------------------------------
I think most here will agree that I'm generally pretty prone to compromise, probably too much so. But I just don't see how a cut to SS can be discussed given the economic devestation most Americans have experienced recently and many continue to experience. Home values, frequently a retiree's most valuable asset, have been devestated making SS more necessary now than in recent memory. (disclaimer, my memory is probably more recent than many here)

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 14, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I think Obama has to walk carefully on the gun control issue which is his own fault from his clinging to gun and religion comment. If he starts pushing gun reform, the right will quickly point to it as confirmation that he is everything they said he is and I think independents will largely buy it. So the question is whether or not he should do it in the face of the hits he will take politically for doing so.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 14, 2011 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Yup, that's exactly how Abraham Lincoln would handle it.

Later (for real this time).

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

wbgonne

I'll take Monday. Did you see the report on Senior poverty I linked to last night? It's not pretty.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/13/elderly-poverty-rate-census_n_808797.html

Posted by: lmsinca | January 14, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

ashotinthedark, well, too obvious, skip it.

Posted by: shrink2
----------------------------------------

Sorry, not sure what you mean here.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 14, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

bipartian compromise = dogwhiste for "spineless capitulation to Republicans' reverence for the rich"

Posted by: caothien9 | January 14, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

a shot in the dark

Would that be like a bullet, coming from a gun, the shooter trying to hit something s/he can not see, or metaphorically can not understand?

Posted by: shrink2 | January 14, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

A useful primer today for the amnesia-wracked blamestream media on just how widespread the Blame-Righty meme has been over the past two years.
http://michellemalkin.com/2011/01/14/blame-righty-a-condensed-history/

President Obama wisely counseled the nation this week at the Tucson massacre memorial that “Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.” But as the progressive Left’s smear-stained recent history shows, criminalizing conservatism is a hard habit to break.

Own your Leftist media smear campaign, Greg.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 14, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

@cao - Read him as part of some course I did at university but in excerpt, not full text. Thanks for the recommendation.

Posted by: bernielatham | January 14, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

"Own your Leftist media smear campaign, Greg."

Its all about the ownership society.


p0wned!

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 14, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Next Week:

The Republican House Majority will pass their:

Stop Treating The Sick, legislation.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 14, 2011 9:48 AM | Report abuse

"criminalizing conservatism"

Is that what you call those ref-faced boors in the tricorns who shouted down the town hall meetings? Is that what you call the guys at the tea party rallies holdings signs showing the president of the United States with a bone through his nose?

Conservatives? Really?

Posted by: caothien9 | January 14, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"Wow. Just dripping with sarcasm, derision spilling over.

Tell me, qb, when you post something as viciously combative as that, do you feel "good?" Do you get fulfilled, satisfied feeling, the comfort of knowing your place in the world and the love of your fellow man?

Or do you have to bite your knuckles and rock back and forth?"

Am I, like, your hobby or something? Strange how I am troll-blocked yet such a regular topic of yours.

I think we all get why your US neighbors avoided you. Death-wishiness and obsessions with abnormal psychology tend to put people off.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 14, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

What is the difference between the Tea Party's rabid hatred of President Obama, and WoeBegone's rabid hatred of President Obama?

Answer: Nothing.

Stirring up irrational hatred of The President is very dangerous.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 14, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

@bsimon - Weird chap, isn't he? Apparently he thinks words really do have power. The "own it!" tic comes across like a hopeful magical incantation (my green toyota WILL become a mercedes, it WILL).

But he's a Malkin fan so whatever else is happening, that diet will make him smarter and smarter each day. It will!

Posted by: bernielatham | January 14, 2011 9:53 AM | Report abuse

shrink-

yes, I suppose I should change my name if I'm going to discuss violent language. I might incite someone to some violence around here.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 14, 2011 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Can someone please explain to me whether it is the position of the right that "violent rhetoric" has no effect on raising the level of danger for politicians, etc or have Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, et al. gotten more threats and been foreced to seek more security as a result?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | January 14, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

@ashot: the very idea of social safety nets seems to be a topic of derision for those people who self-refer as conservative these days. Guess what "redistributive" is dog whistle for?

Posted by: caothien9 | January 14, 2011 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Let us not get completely ridiculous. Some people are starting to go off the deep end, with their irrational censorship.

A Shot In The Dark is the title of a 1964 movie, starring Peter Sellers, as Inspector Clouseau.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 14, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Malkin, watch her make up a smear, then be presented with the evidence that she's made up a smear that was completely false, then watch her insist that she's bound to be right anyway.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_01/027532.php

Rigorous intellect. Reportorial integrity. Emotional even-keel. High-level ability to reflect on self. What's not to like about Malkin?

Posted by: bernielatham | January 14, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I assumed ashotinthedark referred to lonely alcoholism.

But now I see the dangerous truth of the matter.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 14, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

That was my little joke, for the last two days I have been trying to avoid all metaphors, similes and analogies which could incite the unhinged and it is hard work. To be serious for just a second, I agree, surely it is a bad thing all around to cloak ourselves in violent metaphors, especially for political effect. But to foist the greater moral, pro-social concern onto the potential for crazy people to become violent, that is silly.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 14, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

@ashot: the very idea of social safety nets seems to be a topic of derision for those people who self-refer as conservative these days. Guess what "redistributive" is dog whistle for?

------------------------------------

That's why they aren't called social safety nets, everything is an entitlement. And entitlement is a bad thing, you aren't entitled to anything even if you pay into SS every paycheck.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 14, 2011 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I assumed ashotinthedark referred to lonely alcoholism.

But now I see the dangerous truth of the matter.

Posted by: quarterback1
------------------------------------------
Well played. That comment is reason enough not to block QB!

I'm glad a name I picked a year or so ago has turned out to provide me with a morning of amusing and witty comments related to a current event.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 14, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

And that's why they call things like Medicare government "services" instead of "necessities."

Posted by: caothien9 | January 14, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

"How do they restart the debate over repealing health reform -- a highly contentious topic -- without reviving the sort of rancor that will seem unseemly in the wake of the shooting?"
------------------------------------------
Well, 1st thing is that they won't pay attention to a false paradigm created by libs. So, it is a non-issue.

But Kane & Murrey are useless hacks anyway.

Posted by: illogicbuster | January 14, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Next up comes
The Weeping Boehner's Legislation To:

Cover The Wealthy And Healthy Only.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 14, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Worth noting that the ACA that occasioned death threats to Democratic Congressmen could have been a Republican idea not all that long ago.

Yet despite such dramatic lurches toward extremism the Republicans still, bizarrely, see themselves as the center, and people with normal human concerns as "far left" and even "collectivist."

Posted by: caothien9 | January 14, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Not being a student of "assassination", I don't know how valid this is but it was published in 1999 and seems somewhat relevant.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"The insights of this study are interesting to review in light of the Arizona shooting, though obviously we still don't know that much about Jared Loughner, the suspect in the attack, or his motives. Perhaps the most interesting finding is that according to Fein and Vossekuil, assassinations of political figures were almost never for political reasons.

"It was very, very rare for the primary motive to be political, though there were a number of attackers who appeared to clothe their motives with some political rhetoric," Fein says.

What emerges from the study is that rather than being politically motivated, many of the assassins and would-be assassins simply felt invisible. In the year before their attacks, most struggled with acute reversals and disappointment in their lives, which, the paper argues, was the true motive. They didn't want to see themselves as nonentities."

http://www.npr.org/2011/01/14/132909487/fame-through-assassination-a-secret-service-study

Posted by: lmsinca | January 14, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

All, new Adam Serwer post on how Obama's speech won't change the tone in Washington:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/01/obamas_tucson_speech_will_not.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 14, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

@wb-

"Obama was speaking at a memorial service and proposing nothing."

Apparently you missed Obama's request for civility and for the living to to honor the dead/maimed by aspiring to higher expectations. Is that not something?

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | January 14, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

@wb-

"Obama was speaking at a memorial service and proposing nothing."

Apparently you missed Obama's request for civility and for the living to to honor the dead/maimed by aspiring to higher expectations. Is that not something?
Posted by: ChuckinDenton | January 14, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Nothing "concrete" is what I meant.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

@wb--

Gotcha. Possibly the wrong time for that, IMO.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | January 14, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Like to catch up on some posts directed at me earlier that I am just now able to answer.

@shotinthedark I think it was you yesterday who asked me what we think of Yzerman here in Tampa. We think he is the best GM in all of the NHL...He's awesome..I mean how do you take a team from three last place finishes...finishing last was actually an achievement we played like a triple a team. lol If you are a Wings fan you have my sympathy. I realize your organIzation, the best in the NHL was grooming your hall of famer for management to run the Wings one day. You guys did a great job but sorry you can't have him back! Yzerman rules!!!

@clawrence I hope you and your family had fun at the Ducks/Blue Jacket game over the weekend. Did your Ducks win? My son lives in Columbus so he would have been rooting against you...Hockey is one of those rare sports that is far more enjoyable in person than on TV...the puck is just too small and the game moves to fast for TV although my new HDTV did make that 3-0 shutout over the Caps look pretty sweet. Sorry Mike in A. :-)

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 14, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Just like, Clawrence, Sybil, etc.

The more broad praise that President Obama received for his speech, the more Woebegone goes berserk ranting against him.

He sures hates President Obama every bit as much as those virulent right wingers do.

Praise of President Obama drives Clawrence and Woebegone crazy.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 14, 2011 10:45 AM | Report abuse

@wb--

Gotcha. Possibly the wrong time for that, IMO.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | January 14, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Probably so. My only point is not to read too much into the speech since it did not propose any concrete policies.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

WoeBegone, you poor sad sack, it was not The State Of The Union Address.

According to you, in order to compare it to Lincoln's address at Gettysburg, President Obama should have waited until after he had waged a civil war first.

Go back and read the Gettysburg address. Lincoln did not propose any concrete policies in that speech either.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 14, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

@shrink "No one is going to say changing America's political tone has to happen or more crazy people will go ballistic, that is silly."

I think among we lay people shrink it's the defintion of "crazy" that confuses us...at least me. I am one who believes in very little absolutes...the joke about death and taxes comes to mind...but the point is why do we say someone is mentally ill and asssume it as an absolute. I do realize that there may be some folks who are abolutely messed up and need protective hospitalization..I get all the diagnosis for manic/depressive, schizophrenia etc.....but here is my question for your shrink.

We don't immediately say when someone has a cold or pulmonary infection that they are sick and mean it as black or white. Sick can go from a runny nose and sneezing...to a full blown head cold..to adding in coughing wheezing and hacking...and perhaps pneumonia. My point is ill is a relative term..is this not true for mental illness as well?

We have a summer cottage in a really really remote part of the U.P. of Michigan. And so when my brothers-in-law
were out one night just after dinner and came upon an encampment of militia/survivalists? with their guns on prominent display, wearing their cammo, my in laws immediately beat a hasty retreat out of there. We lay people look at militia types as "crazy"...at least colloquially "crazy" as we lay people call it. And so are those dudes in the woods mentally ill? Was Timothy McVeigh mentally ill?

I think many folks feel like me. I'm not worried about what ANYTHING does to people like Loughner...he is obviously sick. It's the borderline militia types, and quite frankly there are several posters on this blog who would concern me if I thought they were armed and knew my home address. I have had at least one poster here be stupid enough to ask for my address so he could come down here to Florida and settle this like men. I get that this was probably a badarse hiding behind a keyboard..when I worked for the Airlines we used to call them "telephone tigers" but I have to confess snark free here...there are literally some posters here, I would wish to remain more than a 1000 feet away from if they had a gun. Not saying that they WOULD but they COULD represent a real threat..why take the chance.

In conclusion..IMHO..I guess I'm not so worried about what hate speech and violent metaphors do to the mentally ill as much as the effect it might have on the simply irresponsible amongst who may have a touch of mental illness. Is it possible to have just a touch of mental illness shrink or is mental illness an absolute clinical diagnosis?

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 14, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Ru,

A touch of mental illness has historically been labelled as someone being an eccentric. Some of those people have been some of the greatest artists and writers, because they brought a unique perspective to their work.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 14, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

"My only point is not to read too much into the speech since it did not propose any concrete policies."

Much of the power of the presidency lies in control of the 'bully pulpit.' The President's address at the memorial is an example of how he can use it to change the dialogue. Before the speech the national dialogue was primarily about whether or not some of the excessive hyperbole in our political discourse contributed to the gunman's state of mind. After the speech, the natnional dialogue is about the President's address & whether the political rhetoric can be toned down & how much. In redirecting our attention from Loughner's actions back to ourselves, the President as effectively regained some political capital for the coming debates over health care reform, the debt ceiling & national budget, tax reform, etc. By downplaying the significance of the speech for lacking policy proposals, you're overlooking how the public image of the POTUS can be positively influenced by such addresses. When he next picks up this theme again - living up to the ideals of a nine year old girl who saw the good of public service - the President will be delivering the SOTU to a joint session of Congress, which will preempt programming on most major networks, giving him a direct line to the citizenry & the opportunity to make those policy proposals that weren't in the memorial speech. And because of the memorial speech, the public will be more receptive to his ideas.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 14, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

"And because of the memorial speech, the public will be more receptive to his ideas."

That's likely true. Whether it is good depends upon what those "ideas" are, i.e., what policies Obama proposes. That is what worries me.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 14, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

lms,

Interesting link. Some even studied assassination history as part of their "reasoning" toward a plan for achieving fame, which seems pretty calculating. The theme of killing to establish a "special relationship" with the victim seems to come up a lot, too. Creepy stuff.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 14, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

What concrete policies did the Gettysburg Address promote? Obama's speech clearly is not in the class of the Gettysburg address, but that has everything to do with the weight of the moment and issues (civility vs. Civil War) and the sheer one-time, historical brilliance of the Gettysburg Address as opposed to a failure to promote "concrete policies".

I'm sure Obama would have been heavily criticized for politicizing this if he had promoted gun control. Instead people are left criticizing the crowd for clapping at a memorial service too much.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | January 14, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Obama gave a good speech. It was not another Gettysburg Address. Nor I Have A Dream, nor Churchill before the Commons, Henry V (via Shakes), Pericles, nor Demosthenes.

As Bilgey used to say, Child please!

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 14, 2011 11:39 AM | Report abuse

ruk:

"I am one who believes in very little absolutes..."

But not very big ones?

(Sorry...couldn't resist.)

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 14, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

"Speaking of Malkin, watch her make up a smear, then be presented with the evidence that she's made up a smear that was completely false, then watch her insist that she's bound to be right anyway.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_01/027532.php

Rigorous intellect. Reportorial integrity. Emotional even-keel. High-level ability to reflect on self. What's not to like about Malkin?"

Versus the sound, cold logical reasoning of Dr. Sherlock Holmes Sullivan, OBGYN, who will get to the bottom of who really birthed Trig Palin, facts be d@mned.  Or, Mr. Glen "Sockpuppet master" Greenwald, who's never not defended any of his 50,000 word essays, whether he admits it or not. Yeah Bernie, Malkin's a total hack.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | January 14, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

""I'm trying using double-quotes for blockquotes and seeing how that looks to me.""

It seems all right, I guess.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 14, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Scott "But not very big ones?

(Sorry...couldn't resist.)"


LMAO. Don't blame you at all. :-) When I saw that post go up...I went..sh*t...few...few absolutes.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 14, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

@Troll

Not sure I get the point of your 12:44PM. We name a hack on the right and then you name some from the left? Is it that hacks exist on both sides of the spectrum? If so agreed. Scott posted a link to some loser at the Daily News yesterday who was really a hack....hacks are everywhere...even here. :-)

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 14, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

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