Who's Afraid of Glenn Beck?

| Mon Jan. 10, 2011 12:08 PM EST

I was busy this weekend writing the third draft of a piece for the next issue of the magazine, so thankfully I had a pretty good excuse for not joining the blogging/twittering/cable frenzy over the meaning of the assassination attempt on Gabrielle Giffords. For the record, though, I think the attacks on Sarah Palin have been completely ridiculous — and I can't tell you how much it pisses me off that I feel forced to say that. But come on, folks. "Targeting" political candidates for defeat is so common a metaphor that we could barely even hold elections anymore if we didn't use it. Give it a rest.

That aside, though, I'd say Andrew Sullivan had the sharpest observation of the day. Have we really gotten to the point where a "senior Republican senator" has to ask for anonymity in order to say this?

“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.”

Good God. Is he really that afraid of the wrath of Glenn Beck?1

1And having listened to Beck now and again, I'd say that if you're really looking for someone to censure on the rhetoric front, he's a way better target than Sarah Palin. A campaign poster like Palin's that uses a bunch of bullseyes to represent "targeted" candidates is pretty unlikely to send some mentally unbalanced nutcase over the edge, but frankly, I'm surprised Beck hasn't already inspired a couple of Jonestown-like mass homicide waves.

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