by Adam Nagourney
[Republican Gov. Jan Brewer] is eagerly trying to defend a state whose reputation has been battered in recent years, particularly since the massacre here on Saturday.But fairly or not, Arizona’s image has been forged in part because of Ms. Brewer herself, who has been identified with the tough law aimed at illegal immigrants, budget cuts that include denying aid to people who need life-saving transplants and laws permitting people to take concealed guns into bars and banning the teaching of ethnic studies in public schools.
the big idea
The Tea Party and the Tucson Tragedy
How anti-government, pro-gun, xenophobic populism made the Giffords shooting more likely.
By Jacob Weisberg
Posted Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, at 6:30 PM ET
There's something offensive, as well as pointless, about the politically charged inquiry into what might have been swirling inside the head of Jared Loughner. We hear that the accused shooter read The Communist Manifesto and liked flag-burning videos—good news for the right. Wait—he was a devotee of Ayn Rand and favored the gold standard, so he was a right-winger after all. Some assassinations embody an ideology, however twisted. Based on what we know so far, the Tucson killings look like more like politically tinged schizophrenia.
It is appropriate, however, to consider what was swirling outside Loughner's head. ... It was the anti-government, pro-gun, xenophobic populism that flourishes in the dry and angry climate of Arizona. Extremist shouters didn't program Loughner, in some mechanistic way, to shoot Gabrielle Giffords. But the Tea Party movement did make it appreciably more likely that a disturbed person like Loughner would react, would be able to react, and would not be prevented from reacting, in the crazy way he did.
The real issue isn't one maniac's psyche, of course, it's what has been revealed over the last four days about the psyches of the people who have the media bullhorn.