Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from Arizona, was shot and critically wounded yesterday in an attack in Tucson that left six others dead and 12 injured. The gunman, a 22-year-old man named Jared Lee Loughner, has been been arrested.
President Obama described Giffords as "an extraordinary public servant".
Michael Tomasky, who writes about American politics for the Guardian, issued what he called a "bs alert" last night. He reminded readers that Giffords's office windows had been broken in the summer of 2009, when the debate over Obama's health-care reforms was at its most virulent. We should keep an eye open therefore, he argued, for:
any signs of coverage that deplores the shooting but says something like, "Of course, there IS a lot of anger out there, so . . ." You won't hear that today. But keep an ear out for it Sunday, and Monday. As if there's a rationale for something like this. Just keep an ear out.
Alex Hannaford, also on the Guardian's website, noted that a comment left on Sarah Palin's Facebook page appeared to confirm Tomasky's worst fears: "This will be another avenue for gun control groups to further their sick agenda." Meteor Blades, writing at the liberal Daily Kos blog, sees Gifford's shooting as the American right's incendiary rhetoric made flesh:
Those whose violent, eliminationist rhetoric has polluted the airwaves and other media for the past couple of decades, ramping itself up a little more each year, especially with the arrival of an African American in the White House, are, of course, denying that the shootings of a congresswoman, a judge, a child and bystanders on a street corner in Arizona have anything to do with their savage words. No surprise. One thing they're good at is refusing to accept any responsibility for the consequences of this murderous talk, whether it's Timothy McVeigh blowing up a federal building or Scott Roeder assassinating a doctor.
Andrew Sullivan live-blogged the reaction to the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords, and observed that much of the language used by the shooter in a video testament posted on YouTube is "like a parody of a Ron Paul supporter".
Meanwhile, the right-wing blogger Glenn Reynolds fulminated against liberals who, he claims, have seen in the shooting an opportunity to save Barack Obama's faltering presidency by "defaming his opposition". Other conservative bloggers and commentators have singled out for particular opprobrium Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's liberal talking head, who took to the screens last night to make what one would have thought was an uncontroversial plea to his fellow Americans to "put the guns down".
You can watch Olbermann's nine-minute comment on the Giffords shooting here: