No time for finger-pointing
January 9th, 2011
05:42 PM ET
12 years ago

No time for finger-pointing

Editor's note: David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four U.S. presidents. He is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School.

(CNN) - Until we have more definitive information about the shooter, pointing fingers at who might bear responsibility for the Tucson, Arizona, massacre only contributes to what we must end in America: a toxic political environment.

Soon after the news broke, the internet lit up with accusations, even before we knew anything at all about the man who pulled the trigger. Much of the early commentary, especially from the left, blamed the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, etc. for employing a rhetoric of militarism and creating a climate of hate.


Filed under: Arizona • Democrats • Republicans
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. NikkiTaMere

    yes, the violent rhetoric and calls to "2nd amendment solutions" from the right wing couldn't possibly have anything to do with a right wing nut committing a political assasination

    January 9, 2011 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  2. Thomas Turner

    Mr. Gergen,
    I respect your informed commentary about politics in this country but on this topic, you miss the point. As you note, no one is accusing Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Bachman, Allen West, Sharon Angle, Fox "News", the Tea Party radicals, etc of direct responsibility for this attack.
    The point is that the "rhetoric of militarism and (the) climate of hate" has been flowing almost exclusively from the right.
    In this case, tthe shooter spent much of his time denigrating our political system and while it probably can't be proved, in our current political climate, which is infused with commentary even more violent than Jared Loughner's writings by those same people and groups, it would be illogical to argue that the shooter - who had been paying attention - was not influenced by that climate.

    January 9, 2011 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  3. Lee Bartholomew

    Well not sure whats appalling since she had Gabby in the cross hairs. Palin and only palin would be the first thought on anyone's minds. That said, last thing I wanna be doing is become her. So please no revenges here...There is no shock here. We all knew it would happen. And has happened.

    January 9, 2011 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  4. Jeremy

    I agree this Tea Party movement is bad for america they must just dtay as republican cheerleaders because they cause a climate of hate towards others with no facts their moving America "fowered" or back to segregation

    January 9, 2011 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  5. Glen

    But they do fan the Flames

    January 9, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  6. vic nashville tn

    He is right but only one side is listening that is unfair last night Fox news was talking about suspect mental instability they ignore PIMA county sheriff other comments

    Right spinning the news always

    January 9, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  7. Namesteve t

    Is it anything but totally correct and accurate that the militaristic retoric that Sister Saraha and others have used with guns pointed towards those on the left does create an environment of hate and/or condoned violence?

    January 9, 2011 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  8. Robert

    This is the problem.........when people in positions of authority – ie; the Sheriff – spew their political opinions and create further hate. I am ashamed that he is a Sheriff and I hope he is fired!!!! I wonder how he has helped the creeps defense – with; unfair jury pool, tainted evidence? etc etc etc

    January 9, 2011 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  9. Oy Vey Az

    I am fuming ! Don't point fingers ? Just wait for the next shoe to drop ? Patience ? I think its time to start calling out all the hate filled voices across our land. What are we a spineless bunch of cowards who can’t see tyranny when it hisses in our face. It starts in your living room.

    Or maybe pass a law banning the ownership of media organizations by anyone from Australia.

    And as far as the Democrat's proposal to make another law ? Don't we already have "thou shall not murder" ? From God we get this. It's a biggie. Did that law protect Rep. Giffords ? If Democratic lawmakers think that they can shield themselves from harm by passing more laws they are sadly mistaken. They'll never be able to pass enough laws to be protected from forms of free speech that is punctuated by bullets as long as hate filled rhetoric spews forth across our airways.

    January 9, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  10. steve t

    Is it anything but correct and true that the militaristic rhetoric used by Sister Sarah and others DOES create an atmosphere of hate? How can it not?

    Even if no direct connection is made in this particular shooting, the guns and crosshairs have no place in intelligent political discourse.

    January 9, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  11. Darth Vadik, CA

    Blame should go where it is, at the radical right wing who use hate speech to get ratings on TV and radio, it works great for ratings, but it does have it's real life drawbacks.

    Palin is already done, she is unelectable and will be a non-entity soon enough (even her show got canceled, boy is the TLC happy about that timing now),

    as far as Beck, he's a psychopath with mental problems who will blow his own brain soon anyway, lets just hope he only hurts himself

    January 9, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  12. B

    This may not be the right time but at some point we have to address the political extremism that is now happening in this country. Political leaders have said they have not seen this level of political hate for opposing ideas before.
    This country is on a path to more violence if we do not step back from this divisive RED and BLUE tribalism. People like Palin and Beck are only part of it. Folks walking around Tea Party gatherings waring weapons should be a sign to us all!

    January 9, 2011 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  13. sharon

    Let the blame fall where it may. The Republicans, Sarah Palin,Tea Party all ran a very negative campaign. And because of it came hate & violence. They are all at fault feeding fuel to the fire.

    January 9, 2011 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  14. Phil M

    I think it appropriate that Republicans introduce and push through hand gun legislation in the Republican controlled house that would have prevented this tragedy – The bill should be named after the 9 year old girl who was murdered. Its simply the right thing to do, It should not be Democrat sponsored legislation. This bill should not to designed to protect members of congress, but to protect their constituents.

    January 9, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  15. George

    Palin is as much at fault as all the other right wingers who preach hatred of the government and feed into this kind of lunacy. This guy acted alone, but I'm sure he felt emboldened by the pseudo intellectualism of conservative politics nowadays. He probably saw himself as a folk hero of sorts, especially in the most intolerant of all states, Arizona. The Pima County sherrif was quite right in his remarks about the vitriol of current political discussion and it more than likely played a big part. Beck, Limbaugh, Palin and the rest of the GOP DO have blood on their hands and, as usual, the party of "personal responsibility" is scattering their part of the blame to everyone but themselves.

    January 9, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  16. once upon a horse

    I think Mr.Gergen is spot on in his comments, too bad more than likely it's going to fall on death ears. Starting tomorrow the right wing talk shows will start blasting the left, and the left wing talk shows will start blasting the right. In the meantime what needs to be done is stop blaming each other and accept that we DO have a problem here and work on fixing it. You can still practice your freedom of speech, but certain people in certain positions need to be more responsible with it. This issue began in the 2008 election and has gotten worse.

    January 9, 2011 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  17. Debi

    What is the world is happening out there in our country?? All is see and hear is HATE coming from the mouths of Tea Party members, Palin, Beck, Fox News etc.......Is this what the good people of this country deserve to hear from people that call themselves Christians and talk hate, bigotry and prejudice! NO NO NO they don't!!!!! We now have a terrible tragedy that has killed and injured good innocent people, a young 9 year old little girl that had her whole world ahead of her has been killed by a wacko that followed people with HATE in their hearts. WAKE UP AMERICA, stop listening to these people that are so anti liberal, they can't find anything good to say, DON'T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL! I only hope and pray our dedicated Gabby and the others will have full recovery from their injuries.

    January 9, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  18. Ponder this.,....

    I'm a 72 year old Canadian who was living in Los Angeles in the early 60's. Having returned to Canada, I have been watching my southern cousins for the last couple of years with a sense of apprehension and forboding. Mr. Gergen's blog reminds me of another era in America where a violently charged political atmosphere had disastrous results – the JFK issue. I'd like to share with you a poem I wrote nearly 50 years ago, and which was printed in a Toronto newspaper just days after the event: Unfortunately, these memories carry with them a terrifying sense of deja vu.

    Violence inbred, and nurtured by some senseless hatred,
    has halted virtue in it's prime.
    How wish we many, that the marble markers of November's days
    hung thick and bulky still upon the walls of time.

    For John is dead,
    and through his death are sown the seeds of doubt,
    which heavy lie upon the hearts of we,
    who face the monumentous impact of these recent deeds
    with chests well bared,
    and tainted hearts, for all the world to see.

    I wish you well America

    January 9, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. andrew

    Mr Gergen, you are 100% correct we should all take a deep breath and stop the political blame game. This man was disturbed, really disturbed and I think that what set him off was not the politics of the day but a simple misspelling of his name by one of the Congresswoman's staffers. Sadly that was probably all it took to set him off. He talks about grammer and illiteracy throughout all of his postings and he calls his congressional district illiterate.
    It is trully appalling that this young punk was able to kill and injure so many people yesterday but the most disturbing part of this whole thing was that he was probably set off by a misspelling of his name and not by a toxic political environment

    January 9, 2011 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  20. Johnny

    FACT: the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Limbaugh etc. ALL have employed a rhetoric of militarism and creating a climate of HATE. That is a FACT!.

    January 9, 2011 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  21. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    I will not point fingers until the investigation is done. I am not of the far left but I cannot stand the hate coming from the right. The media should not push this issue under the rug. They helped elevate it.

    January 9, 2011 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |