... In what may have been his most emotional speech since the 2008 campaign, President Obama registered his own disappointment, pleading with all sides for temperance. “What we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another,” the president said in his Tucson eulogy. “If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost.”
If the shooting didn’t feel like the turning point in the civic life of the nation that some of us had imagined it might become, then it may be because such turning points aren’t always immediately evident. Or maybe it’s because the murder suspect appeared to have no obvious ideology, his crime an imperfect parable for the consequences of political rhetoric.
Perhaps, though, we have to consider another explanation — that the speed and fractiousness of our modern society make it all but impossible now for any one moment to transform the national debate.
Not all historians accept the idea of transformational moments, which, they point out, may seem neater and more definitive in retrospect than they were at the time. But others are inclined to see the American story as a series of crescendos and climaxes, periods of mounting internal strife that are resolved, or at least recast, by crystallizing moments. ...
Bai's article was informed by talks with Beverly Gage, "who teaches 20th-century history at Yale" and John Lewis Gaddis, "the pre-eminent cold war scholar and Yale professor," both of whom describe historical events in the nation's history that may have been turning points.
In the end, we may simply have the insane act of one man. Both the Los Angeles Times and New York Times have lengthy articles about the man suspected in the Tucson shooting, Jared Lee Loughner. The LA Times' article is "Suspected Tucson shooter 'slowly spiraled into madness'." The NY Times' article is "Looking Behind the Mug-Shot Grin of an Accused Killer."
Obviously, there may not be much more to blog about Sarah Palin (Or could it be that crowing over her next lie or inconsistency might diminish her culpability in the shooting? In the sense that it could distract people from the greatest reason she is unqualifed for any office?) So, we've started a new blog, a Sarah Palin free zone, named "Blogging towards Bethlehem." It's still under construction, but has several posts, and some links, which may give you a sense of its flavor. There will be posts about politics, but they won't be news-chasing posts. This post may appear there.