There’s no indication that Rush Limbaugh will temper his political rhetoric in the wake of the violent weekend attacks in Arizona.
Speaking out for the first time since Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was critically wounded and at least six people were killed, the conservative talk radio icon on Monday lashed out at Democrats and media outlets for trying to politicize the violence.
The Democratic Party, he said during his nationally syndicated radio program, as aired on the Tucson, Ariz., station 790 KNST, is “a party that seeks to profit out of murder.” He added that the political left “openly wishes for such disaster in order to profit from it.”
“The desperate hope that the losers in November of 2010 had was that they could revitalize their political fortunes because of this unfortunate shooting of a Congresswoman in Arizona.”
“Nobody talks about [that] a Republican federal judge was killed,” Limbaugh said, emphasizing the word “Republican.”
“It’s not the way we think. And we certainly don’t look to these events to move our political agenda forward. But the left is depraved, empty, and without any political substance whatsoever,” he said.
The shooting suspect, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, a troubled college dropout, is widely described as having mental problems. Loughner’s Internet trail has been fodder for many to say he was a leftist but it is unclear if he subscribed to one political ideology.
Limbaugh and other conservatives have seized on statements from Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Democrat who linked the attack to extreme political rhetoric in the media.
On Sunday, Dupnik called Arizona the “tombstone of the United States” for its lax gun laws and blasted “the rhetoric about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia of how government operates.”
“To try to inflame the public on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with,” Dupnik said, without targeting any specific political ideologies or media outlets.
Limbaugh laughed as he told listeners about Dupnik’s party registration. “He wants to tell people he’s nonpartisan,” he said.
The Tucson radio station featured similar commentary from host Garret Lewis. “You have made Arizona out to be a horrendous, scary place. I don’t feel safe with you in charge,” he said of the sheriff on his Monday morning show.
Indeed, the polarized atmosphere does not appear to have subsided, even on the day that mourners across the nation held a moment of silence. One of Lewis’ callers, Ray, said that violence could continue if elected officials are not honest.
“In the wake of all of this, I would like one of the consequences for the Congresspeople and Senators to reflect on being honest and truthful with the American people because we’ve got a weaponized world, and God only knows what kind of weapons have come across our borders with terrorists,” the caller said on the Tucson morning broadcast.
Lewis discouraged listeners from drawing connections between violence and political honesty. But the tone of Monday’s talk radio broadcasts suggests that extreme political rhetoric is here to stay.