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The climate of Palin-hatred, on the other hand, may carry on as usual.

Clarence Dupnik, 75 years old, has been sheriff of Arizona’s Pima County since 1980. When tragedy thrust him into the spotlight, he was not ready for it. “When you look at unbalanced people,” he told reporters the day of the shootings, “how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government — the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry. . . . I think that people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol.” Dupnik’s rant was psychologically obtuse (unbalanced people listen more often to their own dark muses than to circumambient vitriol) and politically motivated (Pima County’s sheriff is an elected officer and Dupnik is a mainstay of the local Democratic party). The portrait of Jared Lee Loughner that emerged over the next few days showed Dupnik’s characterization to be false as well: Loughner was a crazed drug user, not political in any meaningful sense, considered left-wing by some former friends. Thirty-one years is a long time on the job — time for Pima County to find a new sheriff.

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