by David Safier
Most Republicans are acting outraged — nothing new about that — that Democrats are concerned about the vitriolic rhetoric we're hearing from the right. If the Rs can out-outrage the Ds by, say, shouting down Sheriff Dupnik for commenting on the vitriol and hate (Kyl and others) or making the Star's cartoonist/columnist David Fitzsimmons apologize for a statement he made on CNN, they hope they can neutralize what looks like a no-win situation for them.
But one senior Republican senator is willing to tell the truth. Who? We don't know. He or she told the truth anonymously.
A senior Republican senator, speaking anonymously in order to freely discuss the tragedy, told POLITICO that the Giffords shooting should be taken as a “cautionary tale” by Republicans.
“There is a need for some reflection here – what is too far now?” said the senator. “What was too far when Oklahoma City happened is accepted now. There’s been a desensitizing. These town halls and cable TV and talk radio, everybody’s trying to outdo each other.”
The vast majority of tea party activists, this senator said, ought not be impugned.
“They’re talking about things most mainstream Americans are talking about, like spending and debt,” the Republican said, before adding that politicians of all stripes need to emphasize in the coming days that “tone matters.”
“And the Republican Party in particular needs to reinforce that,” the senator said.
In today's political climate, cautious, moderate words like those can only be spoken by a Republican in hushed whispers under promises of anonymity. And that, Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly says, is almost more important than what the senator said.
. . . let's not lose sight of the context — in the 21st century, a Republican senator who wants to convey a basic observation about rhetorical excesses, has to do so anonymously. We've reached the point at which a GOP senator wants to say that "tone matters," but can't quite bring himself/herself to say so on the record.
That, it seems to me, is about as significant as the sentiment itself.