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Congressional shooter's liberal politics don't bear the blame

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A police office stands watch behind police tape near strewn baseballs on a field in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, June 14, 2017, after a multiple shooting involving House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

"I hope people realize that bitter rhetoric can have unintended consequences," Bernie Sanders said after a madman went on a murderous shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in 2015.

It was a dumb thing for Sanders to say. It's false and dangerous, and today that standard could indict Sanders. But Sanders bears no blame for the shooting today, just as pro-lifers bore no blame for the Planned Parenthood shooting in 2015.

James T. Hodgkinson, named as the suspect in shooting Republican congressmen at baseball practice Wednesday, was reportedly a volunteer for Sanders and he used Sanders' picture on his Facebook page. He was also a prolific writer of letters to his local newspaper, where he showed his clear preference of liberal Democrats over Republicans and where his main theme was the need to tax the wealthy more.

"We need to get back to the Kennedy era rates," Hodgkinson wrote to the Belleville News-Democrat in 2012, "when we had 25 brackets from 14 percent to 70 percent and a top marginal rate of $1,424,600."

"President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his Federal Reserve chairman," Hodgkinson wrote, "Marriner Eccles, brought us out of the Great Depression by raising taxes on the rich."

"During the 1920s three Republican presidents lowered tax rates leading up to the Great Depression."

"If the rich paid their fair share of taxes today," he wrote in July 2012, "we wouldn't be in this predicament. We need to vote all Republicans out of Congress."

After the Planned Parenthood shooting I wrote that Sanders' argument — blaming pro-life rhetoric — was totally wrong. The cause of these shooters' rampages is their own mental illness. Perhaps their politics determined the targets, but different politics would have just sent the same madmen to shoot at different targets.

Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner's commentary editor, can be contacted at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears Tuesday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.