The strangest figure to emerge from the Tucson shooting story is Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. He’s been all over the airwaves, pushing a highly politicized agenda, and talking out of the opposite side of the body from the one that’s supposed to generate speech.
In the early hours after the shooting, Dupnik was mumbling about “people in the radio business and some people in the TV business” creating the climate which led to the shootings. Later he started naming names, beginning with Rush Limbaugh. Every time he’s been confronted about these irresponsible slanders, he admits he has absolutely no evidence or logical argument to back up his claims… until he gets to a friendly interviewer like Keith Olbermann, who wants to buy what he’s selling. Then he suddenly declares that libeling people who had absolutely no connection whatsoever to the target of a murder investigation is one of his official duties.
“I grew up in a country that was totally different from the country that we have today. We didn’t have this kind of nonsense going on, and it used to be that politicians from different parties could sit down, forget about their ideology, and work on the country’s problems,” Dupnik asserted, revealing the astonishing truth that he was born in 2008, after the eight years of relentless violent and hateful rhetoric liberals directed at George W. Bush. Funny, he looks much older than that.
Dupnik continued, “We don’t see that happening today. As a matter of fact, we see just the opposite. We see one party trying to block the attempts of another party to make this a better country.” He called Rush Limbaugh “irresponsible” because he “angers people against government, angers them against elected officials.” I’ve written before that one of the reasons the “Climate of Hate” narrative is detonating in the Left’s face is how creepy their spokesmen are. Middle America is not enjoying the spectacle of a law enforcement officer pontificating about the kinds of free speech he’d like to suppress, in order to allow the glorious Party of Government to get on with the important business of improving our lives.
The comically offhanded nature of Dupnik’s political speculations make it clear he never expected them to be challenged. On Saturday afternoon, he clearly thought he was about to become a media and political superstar. Instead, he became a laughingstock, as an incredulous nation wonders why he’s auditioning for Kathleen Parker’s spot next to Eliot Spitzer, instead of investigating Jared Loughner.
There are good reasons for Dupnik to distract attention from the history of Loughner’s encounters with the authorities in Tucson. The sheriff bases his wild speculation about talk radio hosts on “watching what’s going on in this country for the last 75 years,” but it’s becoming clear he didn’t know a damn thing about Loughner’s activities over the last four years. Loughner has been making death threats against Pima County locals for quite some time. The sheriff’s department blew off every complaint filed against him. Perhaps not coincidentally, his mother worked for the county. He had a history of disruptive behavior at Pima County College, including five significant encounters with campus police. His “inappropriate behavior” included laughing about terrorism in class, and making jokes about strapping bombs to babies. He was ultimately suspended from the college after making a YouTube video in which he declared the school was illegal under the Constitution.
The Pima County sheriff is an elected position, which Dupnik has been re-elected to six times. Right now the county needs a cop, not a shifty politician with stars in his eyes. His behavior makes it clear that the profession of politics is pursued at the expense of all other competence. When Tucson reached its moment of crisis and tragedy, it found itself burdened with a sheriff who saw twenty shooting victims and six corpses as a great opportunity to kick back and tell a national audience about radio programs he dislikes.