Short answer, No. But they are afraid...and have been for years. Just not from the Right.
You may find it interesting that Democrat legislators, even progressives, fear the radical Left even more than Republicans do. And most Republicans are afraid of their own shadows.
So put behind you any speculation that Congress suddenly got a wake-up call in Tucson last week and now really wants 24/7 protection the same way a president does. They already know this kid in Tucson was just a whacked-out psycho and not the product of right-wing "hateful rhetoric". But even as they know this...
...they also know that the shooting was "political"...for that kid escaped from a political asylum they created.
What the "respectable Left" fears very much is the culture of hate and outrage that caused that kid to turn his violence toward political figures. For that culture of hate today is their progeny. For the most part they were raised in it themselves, and this generation they've sired and nurtured. And they have profited from it. The problem is, they can't always control it.
They've always known a few nutcases would escape the seine net. So what? Occurrences like this are bound to happen, they think.
This explains the theater, and the profit the Left would like to realize. This is why every talk show host, every editorial, every blog is aimed at either proclaiming innocence or pointing a finger of guilt at a thing both sides know isn't true; that "harsh political rhetoric" drove this kid to murder. This has just been such a good political choreography, they have to keep playing the music. It has worked since the 1970s. Works every time, Republicans running for cover and conservative pundits getting all huffy when you point the finger at them.
Bottom line: congressional liberals are not one bit more afraid of the right, and right-wing loonies than they ever were...in part because there are so damned few of them compared to their own looney-Left.
But this theater also deflects from the root cause of these kinds of acts.
The other day I brought forward Ayn Rand's essay "The Comprachicos" to provide some context to the Tuscon killings. I did that for a reason. "Hey, the kid's insane," we're told. "He wasn't manufactured." Yes, in all likelihood he is insane, but very possibly not insane enough to escape the death penalty.
And besides, we're told, he dropped through the holes in the safety net the mental health system has in place, not to mention parents in denial, an "in" with the county police, who turned their backs out of some yet unknown deference to that family, never acting on a string of prior outrages. Medication? Who knows?
So, how can all these fortuitous missteps combine to create a political crime?
Insanity cannot be taught, but hate can. And all sorts of serious psychopathic elements of a person's character can be taught, so the distinctions are not always that clear. Every dog owner knows you can train a dog to be mean if you start when he's a pup.
Ayn Rand pointed out the same fact about children. This is what she tried to tell us in 1970...
that an entire generation...actually two now...have been purposefully deformed and mangled mentally and emotionally from preschool on....by the state...for purposes that are political in nature. (My words, not hers)
They aren't just taught to hate, they are taught what to hate, who to hate, and with a greater deal of specificity than most of us imagine. And once out of their reach, their "teachers" can rely on a predictable coarsening in the popular culture to accentuate that hate among those children as they grow older and circulate outside the incubator.
You can start a kid in preschool at four, split that group up into perhaps 3-4 tracks by the time they are seven, based on family circumstance and intelligence...then be sure that by the time they are 18, you have 20-25% of the crop as certified haters...hating all the things you want hated. And these children are not usually the mental runts of the hatch. They are smart. Most will go to college.
By now, they've got this much almost down to a science. What can't be controlled, of course, is that some will learn to hate things off-script. A few will escape the asylum altogether and find guns and go rogue. Still, this was not a giant experiment that went wrong. For the Left it was one that has been going very right for many years.
This act in Tucson was political because this kid targeted a political figure, after he had been the target of "hate speech" that was political in nature for probably as much as 15 years; from school, Madison Avenue, and the internet. All those outside forces can be found to have become interlinked in a rather predictable manner to have created a "a hater". That he became a shooter was not in the plan.
In 1971 Don McLean declared the music to have died...in a field in Iowa in 1959, and not as some Liberals suggest, on a street in Dallas in 1962:
No angel born in hell
Could break that Satan’s spell.
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite,
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died
And in the streets: the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
The church bells all were broken.
I highlighted Ayn Rand's essay because she chronicled the genesis of what we are seeing now, and also date-stamped it...over 40 years ago.
That same year, Atari gave the world Pong, then the joystick. Then Al Gore gave them the children the internet. In 1995 Bill Gate gave the children Windows, so soon their bedrooms were turned into virtual universes, light years away from reality; video games, television, internet, social networks, avatars, pornography, blogs and hate speech, with live video-cams included...while Mom brought in dinner on a tray. Today they can download that entire universe into a small hand-held moonraker no bigger than a wallet...so now they can go anywhere, everywhere, and still be alone in their universe. That smile you see as they text isn't one of fondness or sentiment, but of instant gratification, as a dog grins when it is fed.
For the majority of this most recent generation, the X'ers, this was all just an entertainment, and those kids grew up and moved on. Hopefully to read a book from time to time. But for quite a few, a predictable few even, it seems, the rage turned inward. With some it was shared with the pack, (dailyKos et al, the potty-mouth networks), local rallies on campus, protests, also YouTube and Facebook. But others just "can't get no satisfaction". They have that itch they can't scratch, that hole in their soul, that thirst which a few cusswords and pretend macho-talk of a true Halo Warrior just doesn't quite quench.
But Ayn Rand was not really writing about this Jared Loughner. Who she was targeting is the cesspool from which he arose; the chattering filth and the relentless outrage...for that pit of hate was created on purpose, and yes, for principally a political purpose. "The Comprachicos" was not about the few who wandered off to shoot up a school, or try to assassinate a congress woman. She wrote about those who would stay and would turn out as planned...kids who were trained downward, deformed to develop primitive intellects, emotions, appetites and needs, but who could still get A's and a front row seat at Wellesley. You see them every day if you visit the blogs and websites of the Left. They spew only hatred and rage. It is their mother's milk. It's why they breathe. You'll find no paeans to a bluebird there, no poignant tales of times down at grandmas, no sentiment for any living thing or memory.
There are millions of them.
In the 1970s the editors at National Review often called these "alienists", referring to those screaming children after they had gone to law school. Nader's Raiders were prominent among them. And so was a young Hillary Rodham. So was Nobel Prize winner (for Insipidity) Paul Krugman. Screechers all, then and today. Haters all, then and today. They were almost all are from that first generation. Look to see who runs Congress today, from the Left. Senators Durbin and Schumer are also of those days. So was the (ex-)Lady Nan. All have used the language of hate in their professional careers, just as they were taught in the 60s. They were all the children Ayn Rand was writing about in 1970.
Now they have grown up, put on coats and ties, shaved, and nurtured into this world a new generation. The beat goes on.
The progressive educators had picked their targets well.