Any talk of Tea Party responsibility in the Arizona shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has apparently had no effect on Tea Party activity here.Whether you are a fan of Sen. Richard Lugar or think he should retire after six unprecedented terms how could any rational-thinking journalist suggest any connection between your political views towards Lugar and this weekend's shooting of a conservative Democratic member of Congress who voted against Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker, has been an outspoken advocate of the Second Amendment, had been declared by a liberal Daily Kos blogger as "dead to me" only last week and whose shooter has been described by friends as a mentally disturbed, pot-smoking leftist? Nobody has produced any evidence that 22-year-old Jared Loughner was a member of the Arizona Tea Party or opposed Rep. Giffords for the reason Tea Party activists there opposed her--largely based on her support of Obama's health care plan. Absolutely unbelievable. If WISH-TV's management had any decency, it would demand an immediate apology from Shella for his outrageous comments, but I'm guessing that won't happen based on his long track record of open antipathy towards citizen activists who oppose the status quo, establishment leadership.
Greg Fettig of the Indiana Party just sent out a news release confirming plans to hold a January 22nd meeting to identify a candidate who might unseat Republican Richard Lugar in the 2012 primary. The release makes no mention of outside events.
UPDATE: In response to criticism of his blog comments, Shella is now saying he didn't mean what he meant to say. "I don’t think I made any of the judgements you assign to me," Shella writes. "I was reporting on the Tea Party reaction to others." Yeah, gotcha Jim.
UPDATE II: Jim Shella should actually conduct fact gathering like a professional reporter does instead of mouthing off his snarky comments about those for whom he holds disdain. The Fix's Chris Cillizza does some fact gathering and discovers Jared Loughner was registered as an Independent in Arizona. Cillizza writes:
Suspected Tucson gunman Jared Lee Loughner registered as an independent voter in Arizona in the fall of 2006, according to the Pima County Registrar of Voters.
Loughner registered to vote on Sept. 29, 2006, identifying himself as an independent. Records show he voted in the 2006 and 2008 elections but is current listed as "inactive" on the state's voter roles -- meaning that he did not vote in November.
The political affiliations of Loughner, who is being charged by state and federal authorities with the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) as well as 19 other victims outside a Tucson grocery store on Saturday, have become the subject of a white-hot partisan debate in recent days.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, liberals sought to paint Loughner as an anti-government, tea party conservative. Conservatives retorted that Loughner lacked anything close to a coherent political philosophy -- a case strengthened by subsequent glimpses into his personal life that suggests someone struggling with mental illness.
Loughner's decision to affiliate as an independent rather than a Republican or Democrat would seem to affirm the sense that while he targeted Giffords in the attack, it was not a decision born of a set of deeply held political beliefs that fit neatly into either party.