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Frank Rich begins: "Six weeks after that horrific day in Tucson, America has half-forgotten its violent debate over the power of violent speech to incite violence."

New York Times cartoon for Frank Rich Op-Ed, 02/19/11. (art: Barry Blitt/NYT)
New York Times cartoon for Frank Rich Op-Ed, 02/19/11. (art: Barry Blitt/NYT)

The GOP's Post-Tucson Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Frank Rich, The New York Times

20 February 11

Six weeks after that horrific day in Tucson, America has half-forgotten its violent debate over the power of violent speech to incite violence. It's Gabrielle Giffords's own power of speech that rightly concerns us now. But all those arguments over political language did leave a discernible legacy. In the aftermath of President Obama's Tucson sermon, civility has had a mini-restoration in Washington. And some of the most combative national figures in our politics have been losing altitude ever since, much as they did after Bill Clinton's oratorical response to the inferno of Oklahoma City.

Glenn Beck's ratings at Fox News continued their steady decline, falling to an all-time low last month. He has lost 39 percent of his viewers in a year and 48 percent of the prime 25-to-54 age demographic. His strenuous recent efforts to portray the Egyptian revolution as an apocalyptic leftist-jihadist conspiracy have inspired more laughs than adherents.

Sarah Palin's tailspin is also pronounced. It can be seen in polls, certainly: the ABC News-Washington Post survey found that 30 percent of Americans approved of her response to the Tucson massacre and 46 percent did not. (Obama's numbers in the same poll were 78 percent favorable, 12 percent negative.)

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+58 # Dan Meehan 2011-02-20 13:27
I hope the Dems stop toadying to the Repukes and thrash them back to their hole in 2012.
+63 # Luís Silva 2011-02-20 13:59
I'm Portuguese living in Lisbon. I've never been in the U.S. but I believe in your values!
Therefore one can not conceive any Sara Paulin, clearly a dangerous mindless followers in the media with endangering the life of someone like Gabrielle Giffords!
Gabrielle Giffords is from my point of view is a woman who represents her gender all that America stands as an example to the Civilized World!
I wish you full recovery of your Gabrielle Giffords!
An alien touched by this tragedy!
Ler foneticamente
Dicionário - Ver dicionário detalhado
+31 # Beth Sager 2011-02-20 16:29
Thank you, Luis! I am an Arizonian five months out of the year so we were here when Gabbie was shot. She is a leading example of how women of America should be. I think the little girl who was killed would have grown up to be like her. Sarah Palin does not even deserve to be in the same room as Gabbie.
+8 # Luís Silva 2011-02-21 03:21
Hi Beth!
In short, USA HAVE TO CONTINUE TO BE A REFERENCE ON THE PLANET! People like Gabrielle Giffords are essential to the Balance
More importantly! Tell me, Gabbie has recovered all brain function?
Sarah Palin and her followers are well cited in the Daily Show of Jon Stuart, (my only source of unbiased information available domestic USA)! These are genuine disgust.
From Portugal, with sympathy
-3 # rock 2011-02-21 11:02
Dear Luis,

If you want a "source of unbiased information" you really should look for more than a comedy show!
+5 # Luís Silva 2011-02-21 13:16
Dear Rock! It is a matter of Historical and Cultural difference between us! The Americans always speak freely unlike the Portuguese! During a dictatorship government that we were not allowed to opine, we have created theatrical performances in between lines that were spoken phrases Comic for the people who made them laugh! That was how we passed through the message of Comedy on the Regime!
As a nation 840 years old we learned that a good laugh can show knowledge!
In addition to I having attended a conferences in LISBON by your Ambassador Allan Katz, Professors William Allen at NYU, Michael Scherer of Harvard Institute, University of California Collin Carter and Vice President of Banco BIG Nicholas Racich!
Conclusion! All these wise they confirm my perception of the message that I learn on the Daily Show!
It is this capacity for Self-Criticism one of the largest North American
I am not such an understandable move Tea Party (it's stupid to make an analogy with the rate of the British tea!?)!
+1 # rock 2011-02-21 15:52
Dear Luis!

Believe me, I respect your country and your wonderful traditions!

And there's nothing like a good laugh! However, when trying to get insight into American political reality, I believe you need a larger sample than a comedian, 3 professors, an ambassador [many of whom are merely large campaign donors] and a BIG Vice-President. Self criticism is indeed a virtue, unless taken to the extreme, as say in Maoist China.

I wish I could tell you more about Ms. Gifford. I think the Dr.'s are being very cautious, but the prognosis is good!
+3 # Luís Silva 2011-02-22 08:47
"...but the prognosis is good!"
Thank you Rock

Continue to be creative in your business with efficiency, effectiveness and productivity and care for the most vulnerable domestic and foreign!
I worked in Lisbon on Pfizer Laboratories for many years and learned a lot about on your way to work that I find amazing!
I learned to focus on the main and marginal place in the background
My focus is currently on Gabbie as a person and what she represents in this political dialogue and future! This dialogue you have to marginalize the black comedy (which I dislike) of the tea party best suited to the late nineteenth century!
Honestly this is the free and frank opinion of a stranger who is ignorant of the details can listen, think, compare differences and allow me to show where the target is!
My Gain? A prosperous America, balanced, friendly World
Be Happy!
+3 # cydfan 2011-02-21 13:36
All progress will be slow and deliberate. As a person who has had a similar injury, believe me I am watching her progress with great interest. When my own injury took place, I went to the same hospital in Houston(Hermann ) and probably the same rehab, although mine was less intensive because in 1996 they weren't as sophisticated. It took me almost a year, but my injury was on the right frontal lobe and hers was left...big diff. Learning how to speak, hold a spoon, walk. It's all part of it. You want to know a little something about the speaking part? Watch the King's speech. That's part of it. Because once she learns her vocabulary, then she has to reteach her mouth to say the words she want to say. That's when stuttering starts to occur because people start to finish your sentences for you. As for her right side strenghth, whew, that's something else. I am now 50, I lost a good 10-14 years of good solid memories but I retaught myself everything what I needed to survive. It is do-able. But I will be surprised if she comes out without some trauma perhaps even mild epilepsy. So to answer you somewhat, she is improving but not recovered.
+4 # Luís Silva 2011-02-21 16:17
Thank you for the detail of the health status of Gabbie especially by those who also had the same sad experience!

I am saddened and shocked by the development!

Still Gabbie will show the world all her gentle determination!

Even to stutter like King, or even unable to speak, your eyes have an eloquence more than a thousand words of a shame as Sarah Paulin. Glen Beck, etc.

God bless You and Gabrielle, in your total recovery
My Best Regards to you and special to Gabrielle!!!
+27 # miz 2011-02-20 14:10
Why would you feel guilty for not donating? RSN clearly states that if you can't afford it then to please pass the word on (about RSN) to others. I am retired and do this, however, when I can I do send $5.00 2 to 4 times a year...not much I know.
+22 # Not Confused 2011-02-20 14:31
Thank You Frank Rich for saying the Repugs are Desperate, I welcome any glimmer of hope in this Brave New World.
+11 # AML 2011-02-20 14:57
Nice piece, Frank, and yes, Obama does not seem to have horn-grabbing equipment. But it's the inept messaging out of the White House that makes me wonder if he'll win in '12 despite that, or because of the ineptitude of the right in their battle with logic and facts.

The GOP agenda reminds me of an ad in the 70's where doubt is put on prunes in favor of X-Lax.
+17 # Doctoretty 2011-02-20 15:27
I love Frank Rich. He says everything so well!
+12 # giraffe 2011-02-20 15:33
divide and conquer

I am totally convinced that the USA will see some drastic economic/socio- political disaster in the next few years. I have been thinking much about selling and moving out of the USA
+2 # rock 2011-02-21 11:03
Giraffe - it might be a matter of weeks! You'd better move fast!
+6 # ER444 2011-02-21 14:35
I left 25 years ago. Haven't regretted it for one moment. I still care though what happens in the USA. I don't think most Americans appreciate how much what happens there affects the rest of the world. America was always loved for its positive influence. That has unfortunately changed, especially in the 8 disastrous Bush years. Obama gave us all hope which has unfortunately been waning recently. Maybe the people of Wisconsin have started something. It is time for a progressive revolution. It begins in places like RSN that are a counter weight to Beck and Co. at Faux News. Without a voice the progressive movement doesn't stand a chance against Murdoch and his deep pockets. We need to get loud. God bless Wisconsin.
+1 # Luís Silva 2011-02-22 09:19
Totally agree! Bush Jr. certainly he is an admirer of the tea party!
I say this because I see that your neurons are the same poor quality of the neural Sarah Pallin!
I have always supported America!
Never support liars and ignorant!
So do not support the Prime Minister Socrates of Portugal, which also adds a liar and ignorant. corruption
The Portuguese think Obama is honest, knowledgeable, and capable of fighting reset the heart of America in the World, the inter-exchange Culture, Business, Politics and Geo-Global Strategy

+27 # Rose 2011-02-20 15:43
So glad that Glenn Beck is losing many of his listeners. Wish that Planned Parenthood and other orgs/people demonized by him would sue him for defamation of character.

Repubs/Christia n right keep whining that they're being persecuted when it's the other way around. Keith Olbermann, who wasn't nearly as extreme or untruthful as Beck was fired. The only way that The Daily Show and the Colbert Report remain on the air is by claiming that they're comedies and being aired late at night. Yet Beck gets a full hour to vilify those who usually speak the truth.
+3 # Christian Mondor 2011-02-21 11:47
Right on, Rose and Frank Rich! If only more people could see Glenn Beck's program as a comedy hour we could really make progress in reforming our country.
+9 # Cathryn 2011-02-20 16:05
I don't mind you asking for donations. I am very grateful for your service. It updates me in bites I can handle without having to listen to hours of endless newstainment that has degenerated into meaningless babble.
+11 # dr.david 2011-02-20 17:04
The infatuation with Beck and Palin beginning to wane? "You can fool some of the people all of the time...."
-32 # Jim McD 2011-02-20 17:07
Frank Rich continues to use the Loughner-Giffor ds tragedy to advance his own agenda. Who can blame him or expect otherwise. However, the real issue is how to identify and control people like Loughner before they do the harm. That is a tough one. My sister has what Loughner has and the disease is a very sneaky one in its early stages. Mr. Rich wastes a lot of time and misdirects energy from where it should be going when he continues his vengeful attacks on Repugs.
+3 # cydfan 2011-02-21 13:57
I thought this was about the civil discourse that was supposed to be taking place because of the Loughner-Giffor ds "affair" as you so ineptly called it. The only agenda that was advanced was the one of the Republicans who said let's put all this ugly talk on the back burner and be nicer to each other. And you know what, it was so much cannon fodder. His attacks are on the hypocrisy of the republicans. If you want to be self-righteous in your indignation, at least do it for the right reason.
+3 # soularddave 2011-02-20 20:45
Be sure to read the thoughtful comments on the NYT page. There are 500 of them, but the first 20 or so are great.
+3 # Mary Anne Doty 2011-02-21 08:05
Scholars at the University of Arizona have responded by bringing together an impressive group of public figures to create the Institute for Civil Discourse. Co-chaired by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George HW Bush, and including a former Supreme Court justice and former Secretary of State (among other notables), this is a hopeful response to the tragedy six weeks ago.
-12 # 2011-02-21 08:46
Rich is correct that Tucson has toned down Republicans but it has certainly not had the same effect on Democrats. Little-reported , the Wisconsin crowds have sported posters of the governor sporting Hitler mustaches and gun crosshairs centered on his forehead.

I don't understand why identical actions are criticized when done by conservatives or Republicans but ignored (or even glorified) when done by progressives or Democrats.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
-5 # stonepig 2011-02-21 09:39's a "So how do you like it?" scenario. Tit for tat. But then there are plenty of gun toting Dems out here too ya know, and a few crazies, and a plenty of us to just shut the whole damn thing down.
+1 # RedLeaf 2011-02-21 10:51
Proof that it happened? Proof that it originated with the Democratic party?

Just wondering because we can all make unsubstantiated statements vilifying the "others" who annoy or scare us. The burden is upon the originator of the charge.
+1 # RedLeaf 2011-02-21 11:00
Proof that the incident occurred? Proof that the offense originated in the ranks of the Democrats?

We can all make unsubstatiated claims against those who offend our beliefs, or make us afraid. The burden of proof is upon the person making the claim of offense - some evidence would be appreciated by all of the interested persons on this comment thread.
-12 # rock 2011-02-21 11:07
Lee- it's usually called hypocrisy, but with "progressives" it's their birth right to use a different standard for judging others.
+6 # andy 2011-02-21 23:25
There have been no New's reports of any WI protestor's at the Capitol sporting Hitler mustaches and gun crosshairs centered on his forehead. In fact, the exact opposite is true. The protest's have been peaceful even when a group from the Tea Party joined the protest this last weekend.

A Madisonian
+1 # Robert Griffin 2011-02-22 17:23
It might help if you included references with your report.
As for citizens, I'm not so sure I've been seeing more civility from either side. Those who feel threatened seem just as apt to verbal attacks as last month or last year.
Be Well,
Bob Griffin
+6 # stonepig 2011-02-21 09:37
I just sent a thank you to all the Wisconsin Dem Senators, and one note to a female Repub that looked somewhat sane, to ask her if she could clear her mind for truth and justice instead of bowing to the corporate agenda of the gov and his buddies.
We'll see. Have heard back from, they are well supported. I would so like to see one Republican who knows that collective bargaining is critical to workers. We should ALL have collective ke a National Employed Workers Union, NEWU, to support every worker in the US. Now there's a Repub nightmare...LOL
+1 # Robyn 2011-02-28 21:22
By the looks of it, people are sick of these idiots. Beck, Palin and the rest. It is heartening to see people voting with their feet. The less attention that is paid to these people, the faster they will go away. Only problem is, when they do, who will we laugh at then?

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