June 19, 2017

ROSS DOUTHAT: Notes on a Political Shooting.

John F. Kennedy was hated passionately by many Republicans in Dallas, but Lee Harvey Oswald’s beliefs were Marxist, not right-wing. Nationalist movements, not partisanship, inspired Sirhan Sirhan and the Puerto Ricans who almost killed Harry Truman. George Wallace was shot by a man trying to make “a statement of my manhood for the world to see.” One of Gerald Ford’s two would-be assassins was a member of the Manson cult, the other a sympathizer with the Symbionese Liberation Army. John Hinckley famously shot Ronald Reagan to impress Jodie Foster.

And most recently — if a little less famously, because the media spent a long time assuming that he was Tea Party-inspired — Jared Lee Loughner shot Gabby Giffords because he was a lunatic obsessed with (among other things) the government’s control of grammar, and she had failed to answer his town hall question: “What is government if words have no meaning?”

So Hodgkinson’s seeming normalcy, his angry but relatively mainstream Democratic views, might be a warning sign for the future of our politics.

Indeed.