In the latest entry in our ever-expanding Obama Derangement Syndrome series, the right-wing media are attacking Michelle Obama for a letter she addressed to parents in the wake of the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Conservatives are professing outrage that Obama would dare speak of "tolerance" following a shooting rampage that left six dead and over a dozen wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft, who's not known for turning away any opportunity to attack the Obamas, led the charge this morning with a post titled, "Michelle Obama: We Can Use the Tucson Shootings to Teach Our Children Tolerance ...Huh?" Hoft writes: "Some disturbed mental case goes on a shooting spree at a Safeway after months and years of bizarre behavior and Michelle Obama wants your kids to be more tolerant? That's so not right."
In the letter, Michelle Obama writes that the tragedy "makes us think about what an event like this says about the world we live in -- and the world in which our children will grow up," and tells parents that it provides "an opportunity for us as parents to teach some valuable lessons -- about the character of our country, about the values we hold dear, and about finding hope at a time when it seems far away."
She goes on to write:
We can teach our children that here in America, we embrace each other, and support each other, in times of crisis. And we can help them do that in their own small way -- whether it's by sending a letter, or saying a prayer, or just keeping the victims and their families in their thoughts.
We can teach them the value of tolerance -- the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us. We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.
We can also teach our children about the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country and by their families. We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it.
That was apparently too much for Rush Limbaugh, who replied: "I don't know if she got the message that her husband attempted in his inimitable, exclusive, and brilliant manner Wednesday night."
While reading excerpts from the letter about children asking difficult questions in the wake of the tragedy, Limbaugh said:
LIMBAUGH: What's so hard to answer about this? Why did this happen? Because there are crazy people in the world. That's why it happened. There are crazy people in the world. You might want to add: There are crazy people in the world who don't yet realize the brilliance of your father. But there are crazy people in the world.
LIMBAUGH: Answers are very simple. There are crazy people in the world that need to be institutionalized. You might want to throw in that the Republicans made them that way if that makes you feel better but just throw in that they are some crazy people that need to be institutionalized.
LIMBAUGH: What does any of this got to do with children being afraid because of what happened in Tucson? See, Michelle did not get the memo from -- I guess she wasn't even listening to her husband make the speech where she said, all -- where he said, all this doesn't matter, but -- he did have a "but" in there. He always has a "but," which cancels out whatever has preceded the "but."
Limbaugh later said: "So we can help our children by giving them the criminally false impression that the healthy political debate in this country led to this bloodshed. Is that what Mrs. Obama is continuing to say here?"
In a January 14 post on the Sweetness & Light blog titled, "Michelle: Killings Show Need For Tolerance," Steve Gilbert also attacked Michelle Obama, asking: "What lessons? That we need to institutionalize people who act crazy?" Gilbert continued: "This is outrageous. ... Mr. Obama had better have a talk with his wife. And he had better disabuse his daughters, before they end up as woefully deluded as the Kennedy children about who killed their father and uncle."
During her Fox News show, Megyn Kelly said "no one" is going to question Michelle Obama for reaching out to parents to ask them to teach tolerance. However, she then suggested it was "disingenuous" of the first lady to say "tolerance" is the "lesson that we should take away from what we saw in Tucson." Radio talk host Chris Plante agreed, saying "it's pretty clear that that's not the lesson we should take away" and that we should be focusing on civility instead. He further stated that Michelle Obama is "perpetuat[ing]" the "false narrative" that "all of the rough language comes from one side of the ideological aisle and anybody who's paying attention clearly knows that that's not the case." Kelly replied:
KELLY: A lot of folks have been saying, even folks on the right, that they're happy to have that discussion. If you want to shift the discussion to civility in politics, then we can have that discussion but they -- what they've objected to is the linkage, like, the need for that discussion, tying it to the Tucson shootings. And the president was very careful not to do that when he spoke in Tucson the other night.
What's interesting about Michelle Obama's letter is she seems less careful because she's talking about the lessons we need to teach our children in the wake of that tragedy and she says that tolerance and giving others the benefit of the doubt, even those with whom you disagree, are two of the lessons. And I, again, I mean, those are good things to teach your children, but the question is, is she sort of throwing critics on the left a bone by saying, indeed those are actual lessons that we should have learned from Saturday?
Kelly went on to say: "I thought that the president's remarks nicely moved us past trying to blame political ideology for these acts, as opposed to mental illness. And the question for you is simply whether the first lady means to take us back to that place or whether that's just an unfair tie that we're ascribing to that letter." Plante replied in part that while Michelle Obama preaching "tolerance is a good thing," "they should tolerate Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh and Fox News a little more and stop trying to accuse people of having blood on their hands for the actions of a lone gunman." He continued:
PLANTE: It really has become pretty outrageous. Is Jodie Foster now responsible for the shooting of President Reagan? Are the Beatles now responsible for the Tate-LaBianca murders. At least there is actual linkage in those two cases, which is something that can't be said about this case -- which means that, in the end, it's a terrible slander and it is being perpetuated by this letter at least to some degree or another.