Monday, January 17, 2011

Catch of the Day

Andrew Sprung reads John McCain's "civility" op-ed carefully, and isn't impressed; he sees it at least in large part as a "pander to Palin." 

I think that's basically correct, although I'm not sure it's only Palin. Mainstream conservatives at least in large part saw themselves as secondary victims of Tucson, inflating real slights and ignoring more reasoned responses. This allowed conservatives to hear the president's injunction against incivility as directed against -- and only against -- their opponents. Conservatives are absolutely correct, in my opinion, that some liberals (and some members of the press) appeared eager to blame Tea Party rhetoric for the massacre in Tucson, regardless of what the facts would show. At the same time, conservatives are wrong to believe that such claims were unanimous or even typical -- and, in large part, mainstream conservatives have been just as eager to assume away any connection between violent rhetoric and violent actions, and to ignore other violent actions over the last two years which provided the context for some of the reactions they condemn.

All that said, it's good to see McCain take some responsibility for his own actions. However, in order for change to happen, what's needed is for people to specifically call out those on their own side who use irresponsible or false rhetoric. Not, as Sprung points out, defend them when their words are accused of contributing to a poisonous atmosphere. Even if those accusations are themselves over the top or otherwise inappropriate.

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