Paul Begala -- who was in the trenches with Bill Clinton in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing and remembers how quickly the promises of civility vanished -- gets in touch to say that he hopes Dems and Republicans alike do a much better job this time around of showing some restraint in the wake of the Arizona shooting.
Begala has a simple question for those on the right: Why are you reacting so badly to those who are insisting that we all exercise some judgment going forward?
In making this point, Begala held himself up as example number one.
Begala relates that a few months back, he joked on the Stephen Colbert show that Dems should smack John Boehner with a shovel "upside his orange head." But he now says he shouldn't have said any such thing.
"That was wrong -- now I really regret it," Begala says. "Now that I think about it in a different context, I think, `That wasn't very funny."
"Any person who has a megaphone also has an obligation to show some judgment," Begala continued.
Begala marveled at the angry and defensive reaction on the right to those who have been making the same point. This is particularly odd, given that some conservatives have been going a lot farther than Begala did with his shovel joke, talking up the possibility of armed revolution and hinting at Barack Obama's illegitimacy as president.
"What has been striking has been their defensiveness and lack of introspection," Begala said of right wing commentators. "Even if this was simply the delusional act of a madman, there's no harm in reassessing, by saying, `Holy smokes, what are we doing here?'"Sage words.