April 19 is almost over, without violence, this year anyway. No thanks to right-wing hate-mongers. Gun-toting "Restore the Constitution" protesters gathered in Metro D.C.'s Ft. Hunt National Park to warn against Obama administration threats to the Second Amendment – even though it was Obama who signed the bill authorizing their carrying guns in a national park. Meanwhile, their supporters in punditry and government did their best to keep anti-government rhetoric at fever pitch, the tragic history of April 19 notwithstanding.
All weekend long President Clinton warned that similar demonization of government led to Timothy McVeigh's bloody terrorism 15 years ago. But Rush Limbaugh blamed Clinton for McVeigh's violence instead, pointing to his administration's moves against the right-wing anti-government militance of David Koresh's Branch Dividians on April 19, 1993 (he also talked about the showdownRandy Weaver's Ruby Ridge posse exactly a year earlier, even though that occurred on George H.W. Bush's watch).
The deaths at Waco were tragic and by some accounts preventable, but the idea that Clinton deliberately sought a bloody outcome is typical Limbaugh viciousness. Likening McVeigh's murder of 168 Americans to the unintentional deaths at Waco is the kind of moral relativity the right used to blame on the left. Limbaugh is ludicrous, but he wasn't the only one being an idiot on this anniversary. Michele Bachmann also bashed Clinton this weekend, after the former president correctly took issue with her calling the duly elected Obama administration "gangster government."
"Because I’m using a statement like ‘gangster government,’ I’m responsible for creating the climate of hate that could lead to another Timothy McVeigh and another Oklahoma City bombing," Bachmann complained. "I'm in my second term as a Congresswoman and the former president of the United States decides I’m important enough to take me out!” She went on to charge that Clinton was "celebrating" the anniversary of McVeigh's murders by talking about it. So classy.
Meanwhile, Bill Kristol's other favorite constitutional expert and Tea Party maven, Sarah Palin, had her own moment of stupid this weekend, claiming the American Founders opposed the separation of church and state. Greg Sargent captured her whole dumb quote:
Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the state, our Founding Fathers, they were believers. And George Washington, he saw faith in God as basic to life.
Sargent follows up with this quote from the Bill of Rights that Palin might want to have tattooed on her hand:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I'm sure I underestimate Palin's political charms for her supporters. And let me be clear: They can certainly defend her as a charismatic, canny political figure. But they can't call her smart. Really. She's having a great time; she really makes ignorance look like bliss. But she's way too ignorant to run the country.