Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren both understand the power (and limits) of rhetoric — and both were swift to blame the recent political violence on the actual perpetrators — the shooters and would-be bomber — rather than on the presidential rhetoric that may have inspired (incited?) them. Sen. Sanders said “I’m not going to sit here and blame the president” referring to the horrible antisemitic attack in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Warren said “the person who commits the violence is the one who is ultimately responsible.” But neither politician refrained from asking for better leadership from the president, whose remarks along racial lines tend to be welcomed by white supremacists, whether or not that’s his intent.
Warren, known for a combative Twitter style that draws comparisons to Trump’s own, said (reported in the Boston Herald): “We should have a loud, aggressive, vigorous debate… but that is very different from inciting people to violence.” Still, Warren was not ready to absolve Trump of all responsibility, at least of the responsibility for setting a civil tone less open to misinterpretation by extremists.
“The most concerning part,” Warren said, “is when there are attacks on a free press, when there are statements about people who have engaged in violent behavior.” Earlier this month at a rally President Trump praised a politician who had physically attacked a journalist and this week, after giving the phrase a rest, Trump returned to calling the press “the enemy” of the people.