Bad week – actually bad month – for the Tea Party. Not so long ago, their members were standing triumphant, having brought down conservatives Senators who were not conservative enough, like Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, and moderates like Rep. Mike Castle. In Kentucky, Florida, Wisconsin, and Utah, their Senate candidates won the general elections, although in Florida the movement had to split the GOP to do it. They were storming Capitol Hill, intent on shaking things up.
Then came the shooting in Tucson. It was not that the violent rhetoric or imagery had incited the gunman to his acts, as I argued at the time. But, the tragedy showed the nation precisely what a “second amendment remedy” looks like. Sharon Angle did not incite or invite the Tucson killing, but her original statement was crazy on its face, and should have precluded her from serious consideration as a candidate, because violence in politics is ugly, profoundly ugly and the Tucson shooting reminded us all of just how ugly it is. The discussion that followed Tucson left the Tea Party’s favorite Sarah Palin with a black eye as well.