There is a proper American response to the pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats:
Find who is responsible, send them to federal prison and throw away the key. Expose their political network, if any, and let the American people have the whole story.
But there is also a predictable response, the blame game. The goal? To silence speech and score points against political foes.
You could see it on Twitter, the sewer of our political/cultural life, and in the snark of some Democratic politicos and some journalists blaming President Donald Trump, saying he triggered the bomber.
It is human nature to make and use tools. Bombs are tools. And as Republicans and Democrats have taught us, fear is also a tool, as is heated rhetoric, and blame.
And power is in the balance in the November midterm elections.
Liberal billionaire George Soros received a pipe bomb at his New York residence. The Clintons and the Obamas had bombs sent to their homes. Two suspicious packages were intercepted on their way to Democratic U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters’ offices, and a pipe bomb apparently intended for former Attorney General Eric Holder instead wound up at the campaign offices of U.S. House Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former DNC chair. And a bomb directed to Obama’s former CIA boss John Brennan was sent to CNN, though he works as a Trump administration critic at MSNBC.
Is the bomber a right-wing conservative with a Trump-fed hatred of the left and the left’s media allies?
Or is the bomber a left-winger playing for sympathy before the elections?
We don’t know. But lives matter, and American liberty matters.
Those directly exposed were office and postal workers and mailroom clerks. They could have worn fuzzy pink hats at anti-Trump marches and “I’m with her” pins. Or they could have worn MAGA hats.
They could have been killed in those mailrooms, blown to bits.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a liberal Democrat emphasized that New York had been the target of terror before but that wouldn’t change the way we live.
“This is the world we live in,” Cuomo said at a news conference. “We will not allow those terrorist thugs to change the way we live our lives. They fail, unless we allow them to win, and we will not allow them to win, not today, not ever.”
But hasn’t terrorism already changed our lives? If you doubt it, if you’re in a city, then look up. There’s a camera watching you. We’ve already lost much of our liberty.
We’ve given up a great deal of it since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The surveillance state increased, fed by our fear and by the federal bureaucratic compulsion to grow.
“I’ve got nothing to hide, let the government search our phones,” you may have heard someone say years ago. Perhaps you said it yourself.
But these days, we don’t even say that anymore. We’ve become used to the government eyes on us, on the street at airports, everywhere. And the young know no other way.
And now I can see - in the immediate flurry of political blame over the bombs sent to Democrats - Americans being told to watch their speech, watch what they say and how they say it, lest they be blamed for triggering some hateful nutball into sending bombs to political foes.
And the vise closes.
Andrew McCarthy of the conservative National Review was infuriated with New York Times reporter William K. Rashbaum, whom McCarthy described as “usually sensible” journalist, for leaping to pin the attacks on Trump, without evidence.
“Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama, Mr. Soros and CNN have all figured prominently in conservative political attacks - many of which have been led by President Trump,” the Times story said. “He has often referred to major news organizations as ‘the enemy of the people,’ and has had a particular animus for CNN.”
CNN President Jeff Zucker was even more direct.
“There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media,” Zucker said. “The president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”
Trump called the bomber “despicable” and unleashed federal investigators.
But he has long infuriated journalists, particularly CNN, for referring to them as the “enemy of the people.”
I wish he wouldn’t do that. I don’t like it. He stokes his base, just as the Democrats stoke theirs. The rhetoric on all sides is indeed ugly.
But that’s what happens in a democracy when power is in the balance. The rhetoric does get ugly.
But silencing it prompts even more ugliness.
At least the president could try to be accurate and call the press “the enemy of Trump and Trump’s 62 million voters.”
There is no question that Trump loathes the press. And media study after media study tells us that the much of the media loathes him right back. Each has an ogre to fight.
But is it possible that blaming Trump for the bomber would be like blaming Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a man of the hard left, a man of the angry anti-Trump “resistance,” for what a follower did with a rifle in Virginia?
James Hodgkinson, of Illinois, a passionate Sanders supporter, took that rifle to where congressional Republicans were practicing for a charity baseball game and tried to kill them all.
We know that violence isn’t exclusive to the right or left.
So, let’s hope the feds find whoever did this, and chase them down the way dogs chase rats in the alley.
And as we wait and consider political violence and rhetoric and the balance of power, let’s not forget one thing: our liberty.