I don't have a lot to add that hasn't already been said. In cases like this, the more important factor is always that the shooter seems to be a plain-old nutjob, not a ___-wing nutjob (with the blank being right or left). From the distance of a couple of days now, it seems that there is no connection between the shooter and the kind of eliminationist rhetoric that is real and exists and literally targeted Gabrielle Giffords last year. That's just a gut-wrenching coincidence. This shooter is just plain stoner-crazy. Based on the kinds of things on his youtube channel (and that he seems to believe a lot of the same things as this Milwaukee man), we're deep into Time Cube kinds of insanity, not partisan meanness.
But I do have to wonder: If Congressional elections were to be held two months from now, instead of two months ago, would Sarah Palin have released a map with Congressional districts in gunsights? (And they were gunsights--Palin admitted as much last year.)
If the debate among candidates for chair of the Republican National Committee were held this week instead of last week, would Grover Norquist still have asked the candidates how many guns they own?
If the "tea party" movement started today, instead of two years ago, would they proudly bear signs and wear t-shirts proclaiming, "We came unarmed--this time"?
If Sharron Angle were a candidate for Senate this year instead of last year, would she still tell a radio audience that people who disapprove of their government may have to resort to "second amendment remedies"?
Again, there is obviously no connection between any of those things and what happened on Saturday. But all of these people, in retrospect, must be feeling incredibly sick and guilty about what they have said. Or at least, they ought to be, if they are remotely human.
Thank jeebus that political assassination in this this country is rare. However, I think it is that rareness itself that allows people to shrug off violent rhetoric and imagery from candidates, campaigns, media figures, and elected officials. It's all fun and games and metaphor--until someone gets shot in the head. Again, there is no reason to believe any of those things made the shooter do what he did, but this is the time for reflection. Does it help, does it do any good, does it add one positive ounce to the universe to run around spouting that kind of violent rhetoric and promoting guns? Think about Gabby Giffords--no, better, think about Christina Taylor Greene.