Meet The Press: Coburn Blames Media--Not Politicians--For Heated Rhetoric, But It's Besides The Point

(h/t Heather) It's interesting to see the two strawmen arguments continually put up by right wingers in response to the tragic shootings in Tucson. The first one is a variation of the "But...but they do it too!", pointing fingers at the left.

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(h/t Heather)

It's interesting to see the two strawmen arguments continually put up by right wingers in response to the tragic shootings in Tucson. The first one is a variation of the "But...but they do it too!", pointing fingers at the left. I've yet to see anyone confront a right winger using that excuse as you would the second-grader equally as apt to employ it: if everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you do that too? Whether or not you agree with the premise that everyone does it (and for the record, I don't agree), that doesn't absolve you of your contribution.

The second strawman tactic is to dismiss any discussion because there's no evidence that accused shooter Jared Loughner was influenced by Sarah Palin's crosshairs map or Glenn Beck's 20+ hours of broadcasting each week, railing at the tyrannical impulses of progress and equality in this country. While it is true that we can't really know the motivation of a troubled brain like Loughner's, can anyone dispute that as soon as we heard about this shooting, our collective minds--left and right alike--went immediately to the state of political debate in this country and think, "it was just a matter of time before it happened"? And why is that? Because the tenor of debate in this country HAS degenerated into "I'm right and I want you to die/get hurt/be eliminated for not seeing it my way."

And surprisingly, David Gregory appeared to have gotten that this Sunday. He asks Sen. Tom Coburn no less than three times if he agrees that the political rhetoric has become dangerously apocalyptic. He even acknowledges that it is especially coming from the right (My goodness!!! What did they put in Gregory's coffee this morning?). But Coburn--the same man who said that doctors who performed abortions should be subject to the death penalty--doesn't think it's a conversation worth having and that we're all missing the real problem. Certainly, he doesn't like the media's role in this, although it's unclear if that is the real problem of which he speaks.

Finally, on his third try, Gregory gets Coburn to acknowledge that yes, there's no place for the kind of ratcheted up rhetoric that we're seeing.

DAVID GREGORY: --its fine to take-- it's fine to take on the media. And-- and a lot of people would support you in that. That's fine. But I asked you a very specific question. Do you reject those who believe that the President wants to injure the country and that will-- that will deny Americans liberty? And do you think-- violent metaphor of any kind is simply over the line in political discourse?

SENATOR TOM COBURN: Of course I reject that. But the point is, is we're spendin' all this time talkin' about-- something that i-- has nothing to do with the events, and what the real problems are, we're not spending time working on.

What a big concession from Dr. No. We're not getting to work on the bigger issues either, thanks to him and his penchant for putting a hold on everything.

DAVID GREGORY: I want to-- talk about a few agenda items for-- Congress getting back to session. But I do wanna ask about political discourse and where this conversation should go. Ron Brownstein writes in his column in The National Journal this week a column that's entitled Apocalypse Always. And here's a point that he makes in conclusion of the piece.

"When political arguments are routinely framed as threats to America's fundamental character, the odds rise that the most disturbed among us will be tempted to resist the governing genda-- agenda by any means necessary." Is that the real problem, Senator Coburn, is a description of political discourse and political disagreement as being apocalyptic-- having such huge consequence for the direction of the country?

SENATOR TOM COBURN: I-- I think that's a false premise totally. Everybody has tried in the media. I’ve pretty well been-- disgusted with all the media, right and left, after this episode. Because what it does is it raises and says that there's a connection. And-- and the President rightly said there was no connection to this.

DAVID GREGORY: But that-- But that's not what--

SENATOR TOM COBURN: --with political discourse to this event.

DAVID GREGORY: That's-- that's not the premise here.

SENATOR TOM COBURN: No, what he said was--

DAVID GREGORY: But Senator Coburn, you-- you know as well as I do that there are people-- and it is true that it's very often on the right who describe President Obama as somehow an outsider who is trying to usher in a system that will do two things, that will injure America and deny them of their liberty. Do you condemn that belief--and try to reject it? I'm not making a sweeping generalization. I'm certainly not tying it to the event. That, in and of itself, is a strain of thought, is it not?

SENATOR TOM COBURN: Well-- the-- the-- there's no question there's-- there's all sorts of strains of thought. But the-- the problem I have with the premise, David, i-- is that we're disconnecting what the real problems are in our country. And we're spending all this time talking about political discourse rather than talking about the real risk to our country, which-- we need to quit payin' attention to what all the media says. We need to start watching, as Chuck Schumer has said, what we say.

DAVID GREGORY: Okay, but Senator Coburn--

SENATOR TOM COBURN: And what we say--

DAVID GREGORY: --its fine to take-- it's fine to take on the media. And-- and a lot of people would support you in that. That's fine. But I asked you a very specific question. Do you reject those who believe that the President wants to injure the country and that will-- that will deny Americans liberty? And do you think-- violent metaphor of any kind is simply over the line in political discourse?

SENATOR TOM COBURN: Of course I reject that. But the point is, is we're spendin' all this time talkin' about-- something that i-- has nothing to do with the events, and what the real problems are, we're not spending time working on.

About Nicole Belle

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Mom, Wife, Media Critic/Political Analyst, Blogger, Austen Fanatic, Unapologetic Liberal NicoleBelle@crooksandliars.com

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