For those who wished to delegitimize the Tea Parties, decreeing them somehow responsible or the impetus for the horrific murders of a madman, mission accomplished. The new poll in the Washington Post:
The Tucson shootings sparked a broad public discussion about whether the political dialogue in the country has become too toxic and overheated. In the new poll, Americans are split evenly on the question of whether the tone could encourage violence, with about half saying it has not gone that far and the other half saying it could or already has.
Slim majorities say political commentators on the left and the right have crossed the line of acceptable rhetoric, and almost half say so of the tea party movement.
Separately, 52 percent of Americans now hold unfavorable views of the tea party, a new high. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats – including as many moderate and conservative as liberal members of the party – have negative views of the political movement, as do half of all independents.
The public is somewhat less severe in its evaluations of the rhetorical stands of the two major parties and their supporters, with 45 percent saying the GOP has crossed the line in how opponents are attacked and 39 percent saying that of the Democrats.
I have my doubts that these impressions will last long. The Tea Parties are a reaction to government overreach, unpopular policies, and difficult economic conditions. Coverage of the Tucson shootings will pass, and eventually there will be new outrageous examples of government overreach, and difficult economic conditions.