A lot has been written about the relationship between the political vitriol prevalent today and the shootings in Arizona yesterday so I will only add a couple of comments.
The vitriol flowed from the right during the Clinton era and from the left during the Bush era. Both were accused of corruption, incompetence and worse but the accusations never strayed into the sort of territory that the right has with Obama.
Clinton and Bush were more or less 'good ole white Southern boys'. Obama, on the other hand is far too exotic, both racially and in terms of his background, for the average neanderthal political thinker to process. The vitriol has changed to "traitor", "wants to destroy America", "working with our enemies" etc. which is stepping into dangerous territory. Corruption and incompetence has always been part of American politics and always will be. When people start believing that the President and his party are committing treason, a crime that can receive the death penalty it's become a new ball game and when a significant percentage of Americans start believing that, as many do now violence becomes something that is not only possible but almost patriotic the vitriol becomes indefensible.
Whether the nutcase in Arizona was actually influenced by this sort of rhetoric may well never be known, the climate is ripe for violence against those who appear to be traitors.
Read my friend Shauna Z's blog on this at The Daily Flog.