‘It Did Not'
Jan 24, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 18 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
After a depressing week—a horrible shooting that killed 6 people and wounded 14 others, followed by days of demagoguery and idiocy surpassing even the normal standards of our power-without-responsibility punditocracy—recent days have brought encouraging news. The medical prognosis for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords seems more hopeful than had been thought likely. And the American people have once again demonstrated their good sense in the face of efforts by the media to stampede them toward foolishness.
Consider, for example, this January 14, 2011, story: “Few U.S. Voters Blame Guns, Rhetoric For Ariz. Shooting, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds”:
So a plurality of Americans thinks the tragedy couldn’t have been prevented. And of those who do believe something could have been done, more Americans focus on mental health than on political rhetoric. This fits with the findings of another survey from earlier in the week:
Indeed, the good sense of the American people is further suggested by this fact: They are able to hold two complementary ideas in their heads at once. Americans are concerned about heated rhetoric—not an unreasonable concern—and a slight majority say political rhetoric might drive unstable people to violence, as it very well might. But Americans also refuse to ascribe responsibility for an act of violence to political rhetoric when in fact the two are unrelated, as was the case in Tucson. And they are fair minded in judging who is most guilty of such speech. In the Quinnipiac poll, Americans by 36 to 32 percent said liberals rather than conservatives are more responsible for overly heated rhetoric.
So we’re lucky to have the public we have—both by comparison with other publics around the world, and by comparison with so many of our elites. Now if only our leaders could live up to the American people’s high standard of decency and common sense.
We’re happy to report that President Obama made a start:
The words “it did not” were not in the prepared text. They were apparently added on delivery by President Obama.
And now, while holding in our thoughts and prayers the fallen and the wounded, and their families, conservatives can civilly and honestly take the lead in facing up to the challenges of our nation, as President Obama has called on us to do. So let’s repeal Obamacare, cut domestic discretionary spending, reinvigorate federalism, reform entitlements, and strengthen our national defenses.