“Fanning the Flames of Paranoia” by Peter Kramer
I understand that the spin coming out of the Right this morning is that the Tucson memorial was too much like a pep rally or even a campaign rally. Some are comparing it to Paul Wellstone’s funeral, which righties ripped for being a political rally. Like someone made them the funeral police.
I only watched a bit of the memorial, and did find the cheering a bit jarring. But, y’know, I wasn’t there. Experiences are much more intense for people who are really experiencing them and not just watching from far away on the teevee. I believe it was David Gergen on CNN last night who said that you had to have been in Tuscon last week to appreciate the emotion of the crowd and why they were cheering.
Not to pass up an opportunity to hate someone, however, Little Lulu and others are ripping the event because it was “branded.” The event organizers even handed out free T-shirts with the logo “Together We Thrive.” (Too socialist? But whatever will Lulu do if she finds out what “E Pluribus Unum” means?)
Michelle is shocked, shocked — messaging is going on here! And really, that’s her problem: not that (in her opinion) this tragedy is being cynically exploited, but that (in her opinion) it’s being cynically exploited by people who aren’t Republicans! Cynical exploitation is their specialty! Messaging is what they do! In fact, it’s all they know how to do. They can’t legislate, they can’t govern — but they sure as hell can craft a meme and frame a debate. They do it every day! They have a near-monopoly in this country on effective memes and expertly deployed symbols and debate-framing. How dare anyone else muscle in on their territory!
And Paul the Power Tool is an unabashed enough bigot to complain that the invocation was a Pascua Yaqui prayer rather than a proper Judeo-Christian one. I’m serious. And these are the same people who have bellyached all week about people squelching their speech.
But here’s the kicker — Adam Nagourney writes for the New York Times, “Even as it began, some conservative commentators were posting comments criticizing the memorial service for being overly partisan and more like a pep rally.”
Even as it began? Sort of sounds like they had the spin ready beforehand.
It’s particularly curious that House Speaker John Boehner declined to go to the memorial even after he was offered a ride on Air Force One. I realize there were some Republicans in attendance, but the ones I know about are those directly tied to Arizona — Sen. John McCain, Gov. Jan Brewer, who was booed. They couldn’t very well get out of it. But Boehner’s absence makes me wonder if he’d already seen the post-memorial talking points and decided to stay clear.