I got back to our hotel late last night and put on CNN as I was getting ready to fall over into my bed, when the report came on about the three men arrested in the Denver area for suspicion in a plot to assassinate Barack Obama:
The action started around 1:30 a.m. Sunday when police in the eastern suburb of Aurora stopped a truck that was swerving erratically. The driver, 28-year-old Tharin Gartrell, had a suspended driver’s license, and the truck was rented in the name of another person, said Aurora police Detective Marcus Dudley.
In the truck, officers found two rifles, including one with a scope; a bulletproof vest; boxes of ammunition; walkie-talkies; and suspected narcotics, Dudley said.
Aurora police, on edge because of heightened security surrounding the Democratic convention in Denver, alerted federal authorities.
Three hours later, at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, federal agents arrested Johnson, 32, at a hotel in Denver. He was being held on drug charges, Dudley said.
A half-hour after that, 33-year-old Shawn Robert Adolf jumped from a sixth-story window when authorities tried to arrest him at a hotel in suburban Glendale, police said.
Adolf was hospitalized and was being held on $1 million bond for several outstanding warrants involving drug charges.
Dudley didn’t say what tied the men together but said more arrests were possible. One of the rifles was stolen, and authorities had traced it to Kansas, Dudley said.
We’ve already discussed here the likelihood that a looming Obama presidency would drive the far-right wingnuts completely over the edge and back into the realm of violence. Fortunately, these men — if they really were plotting to kill Obama — were neither very competent nor much of a serious threat to Obama, though I would wager they’d have wound up hurting someone had they not been caught.
The report on CNN occurred during the Larry King Live convention wrapup. Immediately after the report, who should show up on the screen but Michael Reagan, as part of King’s show, which featured a regular phalanx of right-wingers who then got their shot at telling viewers why the Democratic convention sucked. (Side note: Gotta wonder if King will do the converse for the Republican convention.)
Yes, that Michael Reagan. The one who on his radio talk show two months ago attacked the "9/11 troofers" by telling his listeners repeatedly that someone should "take them out and shoot them." This is the kind of speech that, if spoken by a liberal, would earn them permanent banishment from the ranks of pundithood. But Reagan’s hate speech made barely a ripple — and there he is on CNN.
Obviously, the 9/11 troofers have nothing to do with Obama. But violent speech like this raises the cultural temperature enough that people start believing that shooting the people they disagree with is a legitimate expression. Especially when the people telling them it’s OK to shoot the people they hate are showing up on CNN.
And then when the violence breaks out, of course, the Larry Kings of the world host programs wondering why things like this could happen.