A period of madness, &c.


Friends, I had a column last week on Miami — specifically, on a Cuban-American democracy event held there. I said I would later scribble some “lighter” notes on Miami, and I will. To look at last week’s column, go here.

Before getting to Miami — returning to Miami, so to speak — I thought I’d make a couple of further points about the Tucson shooting and its aftermath. I did a fair amount of posting — Cornering — about this. I did rather a lot of radio too. If you’re interested in those postings, you can find them through my archive, here. So, just a couple of points — then on to Miami . . .

The Tucson shooter, as we know, had no connection to politics, no connection to anything except his own madness. But what if he had been a Republican voter? An attendee at tea parties? A fan of Sarah Palin? A reader of National Review? What would that have proven? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

Nor would it have proven anything if he had been a Democratic voter, a foe of the Tea Party, a fan of Howard Dean, and a reader of The Nation (or the New York Times editorial page).

Many of us were so eager to say, “He had no connection to politics” — which was true — I think some of us forgot to say, “So what if he had?”

Jodie Foster had nothing to apologize for, after the Reagan shooting. I’m sure she felt bad or weird about it, though. The Tucson shooter’s favorite movie stars, periodicals, or politicians, if he had any? They wouldn’t have anything to apologize for either. (They might feel bad or weird, however.)

The shooter’s classmates described him as a left-wing pothead. Should left-wing potheads feel bad? Most left-wing potheads I have known — and I’ve known a few, along with right-wing potheads — are as far from mass murder as they are from sensible politics or sobriety.

After the Kennedy assassination, a lot of people wanted to indict the entire state of Texas. The assassin was a Communist nut who grew up in New Orleans, Texas, and New York City. But who cared, when there was a whole state, thought of as “right-wing,” to indict and defame?

You know what’s wrong with targets on maps — targets of the kind Sarah Palin used, and the Democratic congressional committee has used? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Not one thing. Neither is there anything wrong with talking about “campaigns,” “battleground states,” “bombshells,” and the like. You know the expression “Give it a shot”? Nothing wrong with it, not one thing.

The idea that targets on a map — indicating congressional districts ripe for the taking, or ripe for challenge — would instigate a person to commit mass murder (rather than, say, make a campaign contribution) is lunacy. Sheer lunacy.

This has been a mad couple of weeks . . .

I sometimes think the whole country has Sarah Palin on the brain — especially the left side of the country. (What side of the brain they use, I’m not sure.) Something happens, and the first thought is, the first shout is, “Sarah Palin!” Her every breath, tic, and tweet rocks the nation. Bizarre.

I mean, I like her, but I also have other thoughts — thoughts about other people, issues, and things — during the day. No offense to her . . .

You know how people — politicians, writers, pundits — say they’re offering “prayers,” or that certain others are in their “thoughts and prayers”? I think 99 percent of the time, it’s just a line, just a verbal habit. I don’t think those people are praying for those others at all. Does that make me a nasty cynic?

I’m going to repeat something I said last week — so if you’ve heard it, from me or someone else, forgive me: If the wounded congressman had an “R” after her name, rather than a “D,” would we be having a national discussion at all?