Kinsley on the Right's Tucson Ploy

By Clive Crook

As you would expect, Mike Kinsley's article about the right's "bait and switch" on Tucson makes some good points. His articles never fail to. It is quite true, as he says, that one should be able discuss who is to blame, or more to blame, for the breakdown of civil discourse in US politics without being accused of contributing to the problem. That subject should not be off-limits. Nor for that matter should Loughner's motivations, unclear as these still seem to be. But Kinsley's idea that the right did something very clever when it maneuvered Obama into speaking as he did in Tucson leaves me puzzled.

The speech was widely praised and the country seemed to love it. Obama is back up in the polls. Yes, says Kinsley, but "the circumstances [that obliged Obama to speak as he did] were created largely by the political instincts of his political enemies, who are no less his enemies than they were a week ago". Even supposing that is true, so what? "The vast right-wing conspiracy has played President Barack Obama like a violin," Kinsley says. Really? If they can only keep it up, Obama will win re-election in a landslide. My advice to the president is: keep falling for it. Sometimes, conservatives are too damn clever for their own good.

I've another quibble. Kinsley:

It is, [Obama] said, "a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do." This sounds like a noble sentiment. But who is to blame for what ails the world if not those who think differently? If those who think the same as you are responsible, it's time to start thinking differently yourself.

Must either Democrats or Republicans be to blame for everything that ails the world?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/01/kinsley-on-the-rights-tucson-ploy/69736/