Not so fast, Mr. Cantor. GOP can't avoid responsibility.

It was kind of amazing what we saw yesterday.  Eric Cantor, the Republican whip in the House of Representatives gave a press conference accusing Democrats of fanning the flames in the latest political violence.  That's quite a feat for Mr. Cantor.  We have seen Democratic offices vandalized, Democratic members of Congress openly threatened and called racial and homophobic slurs, and Eric Cantor thinks it's the Democrats' fault.

Let me be clear: you reap what you saw, Mr. Cantor, sooner or later.  Your party is responsible for ginning up this lynch mob.  Your party and its leaders and members of Congress laid the seeds of fearmongering and violence a long time ago.  Like when Rep. Michele Bachmann went on television in 2006 to ask for a witch hunt in Congress to find out who's "pro-America" and who's "anti-America."   Or when in April of 2005, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas essentially justified the assassination of a federal judge because the judiciary was handing down decisions he did not like.  Was he rebuked by the Republican party?  Oh no, he got a promotion and is now the Chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Throughout the Presidential campaign, Republicans painted Barack Obama as a terrorist, a terrorist-sympathizer, as anti-American.  The Republican Vice Presidential nominee, Sarah Palin stood by her comments accusing Obama of "palling around" with domestic terrorists because of what one of Obama's tangential associates had done when Barack Obama was eight.  We are in a "war" on terror, and terrorists are seen as deserving of all the violence that can be perpetrated among them - and to a degree, for real terrorists, that would be hard to argue with (except the due process of law).  When people who are part of a the Republican Presidential ticket call their opponent a terrorist, that is fanning the flames of violence.  It is foolish to assume that the shouts of 'kill him' at McCain-Palin rallies referring to Obama did not have any root in the constant rhetoric that preceded it.

It got to a point when John McCain himself could no longer control his crowd's distaste and fearmongering of then-Senator Obama.  He was booed for even trying at his own campaign rally.

The lynch mob Republican leaders encouraged and helped gin up did not start with today's vandalism.  But it has intensified since the election and inauguration of President Obama, and especially since the health care battle began.  Last summer, as these people were heckling members of Congress in town hall meetings and shouting down contrary points of view, the GOP justified them simply as concerned citizens.  Further, they portrayed these things as spontaneous, knowing full well that well-funded conservative groups were behind this strategy.

The "Tea Party" crowds have taken their demonstrations and rhetoric to greater and greater tension without contributing to democratic discourse, and the Republican party machine has aided them along.    Just last year, as the House was getting ready to pass health reform, we saw not just rank and file Republican members like Bachmann but House Republican Leader John Boehner whipping up tea party crowds into a frenzy.

None other than the queen of Republican and conservative crowds, Sarah Palin poured gasoline on the fire on the lie about non-existent "death panels."  Chuck Grassley, the Republican ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee perpetuated the same myth that President Obama wants to kill grandma.

This past weekend, while a part of the same tea party crowd was spitting on a member of Congress, hurling out racial and homophobic epithets and trying to intimidate members of Congress in the halls, Republican members were outside encouraging another part of the same crowd.  That is not just encouraging a message; that is encouraging a manner.

Time and again, the Republican and conservative strategy has not been to engage the President, the Democrats and liberals in an intelligent debate of ideas.  Their strategy has been to portray their political opponents as terrorists, anti-American, and people who would like to literally kill others' family members.  The talking points from the right do not focus on a conservative governing philosophy but on demonizing Democrats.  Then when the whole thing culminates itself in violence, Republicans are shocked, shocked that there's gambling going on in Casablanca.  I mean, they are appalled anyone holds them accountable for it.

Here's a last word for the Republican leadership: don't dare go around equating what the right wing leadership and Republican members of Congress to do aid and comfort the violent right wing extremists with what happens on the left.  Are there effiggies of Republican presidents and leaders burned by the left?  Yes.  Are those rallies attended by members of the Democratic leadership?  No, they are not.

Republicans are now saying that they are getting threatening messages too.  What, did the Republicans really think that they could whip up a crowd, spin it out of control, and then be protected from the lynch mob? For the Republicans receiving threats, it's just as reprehensible. But not a single Democratic elected member of Congress or national Democratic leader spread, encouraged, or contributed to any kind of rhetoric that lead to it. In fact, it is more likely that you are experiencing what your side has reaped.

So yes, the Republican party apparatus and the conservative leadership still has bloody hands in this - including the blood that is now coming back to haunt their own.

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