Some Republicans Are Afraid to Speak On Record About the Shooting

Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith and Alexander Burns:

Violence and politics merge in Arizona: [Some Republicans] acknowledged what they called an unavoidable reality—flamboyant or incendiary anti-government rhetoric of the sort used by many conservative politicians, commentators and tea party activists for the time being will carry a stigma. A senior Republican senator, speaking anonymously in order to freely discuss the tragedy, told POLITICO that the Giffords shooting should be taken as a “cautionary tale” by Republicans.

“There is a need for some reflection here – what is too far now?” said the senator. “What was too far when Oklahoma City happened is accepted now. There’s been a desensitizing. These town halls and cable TV and talk radio, everybody’s trying to outdo each other.”

The vast majority of tea party activists, this senator said, ought not be impugned.

“They’re talking about things most mainstream Americans are talking about, like spending and debt,” the Republican said, before adding that politicians of all stripes need to emphasize in the coming days that “tone matters.”

“And the Republican Party in particular needs to reinforce that,” the senator said…

From Brad Delong:

How is the Republican Party going to “reinforce that” if its senators all cowardly hide behind the screen of anonymity–do not believe that they can freely discuss the tragedy with their names attached? Delong

The heated rhetoric was important to the Republican 2010 mid-term gains. Republicans also seem to know they were playing with fire, as individuals appear to be dissuaded from straying from the Republican leadership’s public statements.

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