"[T]he aftermath of today's shooting is the official obituary for political civility in this country," he wrote. "The left has simply gone to far. There can be no civil discourse with people as crazy as those on the left are. What that says for the future of this country is tragic."
Kerrey told Roll Call that "hyperbolic, almost dangerous rhetoric" is nothing new in politics. The problem, he said, is comments are amplified a thousandfold by the Internet and social media. "There may not be a direct connection, but you encourage people who lack the mental stability about what they should or shouldn't do," he said. Former Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.) told Roll Call she believes "irresponsible sloganeering" has driven the parties further apart. Morella, now with American University, said in politics today, "there is right and there is wrong and there is no in-between way to work together."
Like Kerrey, politicians and journalists seemed to be taking a cue to cease with inflammatory language. Assistant Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) summed up political consensus on "Fox News Sunday": "Words do have consequences."
Correction: Jan. 10, 2011
The article misstated the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing on which President Bill Clinton wrote a New York Times opinion piece. It was the 15-year anniversary.