Nearly every morning for eight years, my husband would go into the shower with the news blaring on the radio, and I could hear him over the rush of water grumbling, "I hate George Bush. I hate George Bush." And, occasionally, "Won’t somebody kill George Bush?"
Don’t call the Secret Service, Newsmax: My husband was, of course, simply filled with rage that Bush had seized office with fewer votes than Al Gore, invaded a country that had never attacked us, killed thousands of our soldiers and scores of thousands of Iraqis, legalized torture, allowed comprehensive government eavesdropping, shipped jobs overseas, and encouraged Wall Street to enrich the few while impoverishing the rest. You gotta yell something sometimes, and who hasn’t?
The thing about liberals is they do this standing naked in a shower and come out merely wet and spluttering. The thing about rightwingers is they work themselves up into a similar rage, strap on a .45 loaded with dum-dums, and go to political meetings screaming that something must be done about Adolf Obama–or maybe write columns seriously suggesting a military coup "to resolve the ‘Obama problem.’"
And whenever someone points out that the rhetoric on the right could lead to actual violence (as it has, um, a time or two in American history), the Republicans either call you "shameless," "a disgrace," or "dangerous," as House speaker Nancy Pelosi was when she tearfully recalled the deaths of George Moscone and Harvey Milk, or they call you "a nutjob," as RNC chief Michael Steele tagged New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who wrote that the vitriol out there reminds him of the days just before Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.
Look, I don’t want to whitewash all the left’s overheated rhetoric. Antiwar demonstrators carried signs depicting George Bush as Hitler, too (maybe a few more at European demos than at American ones, but still, it happened), and the British fictional documentary Death of a President did stage an assassination of Bush. But when it comes to dangerous rhetoric, any media-borne equivalency between conservatives and liberals is transparently ridiculous.