Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rep. Nate Bell: 'Boston liberals spent the night cowering'

Yesterday, as the intense manhunt for a Boston Marathon bombing suspect was ongoing, a smugly porcine member of the Arkansas state legislature, Rep. Nate Bell, posed a question (via Twitter) about “liberals” that was surely on the minds of some of his fellow Republicans: “I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a high-capacity magazine?”

Click here to read more about Bell's quip at Boston Magazine.

Bell's barbed rhetorical question represents exactly how too many pushy people believe the modern political game should be played. They are constantly on the make; always poised to capture what’s in the air and promptly twist it out of shape. They know that if it bleeds it ledes, and then later they can always say, "Oops, I hope no one took offense."

Yes, Democrats do it, as well as Republicans. But with Republicans, particularly on guns issues, their apparent tone deafness has sometimes been rather startling. Wisecracking about fresh tragedies is guaranteed to upset people who are still in shock, still grieving. It will always get a reaction from those who care about the victims.

Yes, some people enjoy provoking such reactions ... then pretending it wasn't their aim. Some people like to pull the wings off of bugs, too.

So, I think Bell was busting what he saw as cool move -- issuing a bon mot! -- hoping to delight lots of Republican tweetsters and gun nuts who see the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre as a great thinker and a hero. And, who generally love to see Bostonians ridiculed.

Bell did what plenty of right-wing pundits and politicians do on a regular basis: He said the snarkiest thing he could think of to say about his enemies. Then he hoisted a glass to share the naughty giggle with his colleagues and admirers. Then, of course, he issued a non-apology apology, full of winks and nods, and snorts.

Tennessee’s Sen. Rand Paul’s acrid comment about the Newtown families, “In some cases, I think the president has used them as props,” is another recent example of what seems to me to be a calculated tone deafness by a Republican talking about guns.

Paul knows that when the reporters come back to ask him about an apology/restatement, it routinely means a followup story will be written. The second article will allow him to water down the original snark, while the most important message has already been received by the extremists.  

However, in Bell’s case, when he used the word, “cowering,” he went further than Paul and he crossed a line, or maybe jumped over a ditch. That was in the hate-in-your-face style of the Westboro Baptist Church funeral demonstrators.

The giggling Mr. Bell deserves to be hounded out of public office. 

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