Like Rahm Emanuel, who wouldn't waste a crisis, Frank Rich doesn't want to let a murderous rampage pass without trying to wring political advantage. By now, even most ardent liberals have had to admit that there was no nexus between conservatives and the manifestly psychotic AZ shooter. But there was Rich, in his New York Times column of this morning, still bitterly clinging to the accusation.
To be sure, Rich recited some disclaimers that by now have become standard. But by unlucky paragraph 13, Rich could restrain himself no more. Fulminated Frank: "Much of last week’s televised bloviation was dishonest, dedicated to the pious, feel-good sentiment that both sides are equally culpable for the rage of the past two years." That is a "false equivalency," he sputtered.
Two paras later, out popped what amounted to a flat-out accusation. After claiming there exists "antigovernment radicalism as rabid on the right now as it was on the left in the late 1960s," Rich argued:
"That Loughner was likely insane, with no coherent ideological agenda, does not mean that a climate of antigovernment hysteria has no effect on him or other crazed loners out there."
Translation: yeah, Loughner was crazy, but conservatives are still to blame.
So in Rich's mind, the desire of conservatives to return our country to the principles upon which it was founded constitutes "antigovernment hysteria." Conservatives are thus guilty of having an inciting "effect" on Loughner. Rich apparently absolves liberals of any culpability. From assassination movies about W, to "die quickly" Grayson, from MSNBC hosts accusing Republicans of fascism, wanting to rip out their hearts and watch their heads explode, to a president who spoke of bringing a gun to a political fight, that counts for nada.
You might say Rich has leveled a rather sanguinary . . . libel.