Hillary Clinton’s comments today, describing Jared Lee Loughner as an extremist, were unfortunate and are probably much regretted by now. I attribute them to jet lag and total immersion in the difficult, high pressure, multi-country trip she’s undertaken, which probably caused her to lose track of the emerging portrait of the shooter as a dangerously disturbed young man. There is no comparison between Loughner’s acts and Islamist terrorism, the latter being violence undertaken in the service of a despicable religious ideology.
Similarly, I’m not going to vamp on Sarah Palin for her misuse of the term “blood libel.” It was an innocent mistake; although I do have to giggle a little at Palin’s efforts to associate criticism of her shooting gallery rhetoric with the historic belief that Jews used the blood of Christian children to make Passover matzohs. Welcome to the tribe, Sarah! What are you doing for shabbas a week from Friday? (Add: By the way, can you bring a nice brisket of elk? We’re inviting Abe Foxman and the Iranian UN Ambassador.) Palin’s unerring tendency to make everything about her, as Amy Sullivan–welcome back!–wrote earlier, remains a big Mama Grizzly of an embarrassment for her…but I do think a great many people have unfairly linked her now-infamous “crosshairs” target map to the Giffords assault, with zero evidence, and Palin had a bit of righteous indignation coming to her. Just not so righteous and not so indignant.
I think it’s important for us to stop jumping all over stray comments and transforming them into gotcha grist. It’s my Rodney King moment: out of respect for the dead, and the wounded, let’s all cool it for a few days.