The attempted bombing of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, CNN, and other high-profile political targets feels as predictable as it is horrific, following a month of steadily darkening passions: bloody clashes between white nationalists and Antifa on the Upper East Side, angry diners chasing Republicans out of restaurants, children in cages on the southern border, and Donald Trump‚Äôs incitements to violence against journalists and conspiratorial ravings about Soros, leftist agitators, and a ‚Äúcaravan‚ÄĚ of criminal migrants winding its way up through Central America. Equally predictable was the response on the far-right, which quickly divined a more sinister purpose behind what appeared to be a coordinated act of terrorism. ‚ÄúJust too coincidental,‚ÄĚ tweeted right-wing radio host John Cardillo, ‚Äúthat two weeks before Election Day, as the ‚Äėblue wave‚Äô has turned into a ripple, and the left is losing ground because of incivility and violent rhetoric, explosive devices show up in the mailboxes of Soros, Clinton, and Obama.‚ÄĚ
Cardillo later deleted the tweet, but the sentiment appeared to be widespread. ‚ÄúHere‚Äôs my bet . . . no one will be arrested for these alleged mail bombs,‚ÄĚ suggested pro-Trump commentator Kurt Schlicter. ‚ÄúAfter dozens of college-campus hoaxes by leftists, I don‚Äôt buy this super-convenient turn of events.‚ÄĚ Candace Owens, who is the communications director for Turning Point USA and a frequent Fox News guest, suggested that there was ‚Äúzero percent chance‚ÄĚ that conservatives sent the packages. ‚ÄúCaravans, fake bomb threats‚ÄĒthese leftists are going ALL OUT for midterms.‚ÄĚ Rush Limbaugh, the paterfamilias of conservative radio, warned, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs happening in October. There‚Äôs a reason for this.‚ÄĚ
The list of bombing targets may still be growing. As of Wednesday afternoon, media outlets and local authorities had confirmed explosive packages sent to Obama, Clinton, Soros (received on Monday), John Brennan (by way of CNN), and Eric Holder. Another suspicious package, intercepted at a Congressional mail-sorting facility, was addressed to Maxine Waters. Several of the packages included the return address for Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee. The Secret Service intercepted the bombs sent to Obama and Clinton, and has reportedly initiated a criminal investigation. ‚ÄúSo far the devices have been what appeared to be pipe bombs,‚ÄĚ Bryan Paarmann, a special agent in charge of the F.B.I. Counterterrorism Division and Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York City, said during a press conference shortly after CNN was evacuated. Mayor Bill de Blasio called it ‚Äúan act of terror.‚ÄĚ
Vice President Mike Pence issued a statement condemning the ‚Äúattacks‚ÄĚ and thanking the Secret Service, which Trump later quote-tweeted, adding, ‚ÄúI agree wholeheartedly!‚ÄĚ Among his supporters on the right, however, suspicion quickly turned to whether the bombs were a ‚Äúfalse flag,‚ÄĚ or an attempt by the left to smear Republicans ahead of the midterms. ‚ÄúInvestigators need to look at the left, right, center, and non-political,‚ÄĚ Cardillo wrote on Twitter, after deleting his initial post. ‚ÄúHowever, strategically speaking, there is no political upside for the right here.‚ÄĚ Jack Posobiec, a right-wing commentator who previously pushed the Pizzagate hoax, urged both sides to dial down the rhetoric‚ÄĒ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not funny, and you aren‚Äôt edgy. Take the pledge to always support peace‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒbefore wondering, an hour later, ‚ÄúHow did they get all the bombs to arrive at the same time?‚ÄĚ The answers bubbling up from the MAGA fever swamps, in this case, ranged from ‚ÄúPSYOPS‚ÄĚ to ‚Äú#Alinskytactics‚ÄĚ to a mainstream-media hoax. ‚ÄúThey had it all with them all along. When their synchronized alarms beeped? It was time to call the authorities,‚ÄĚ suggested one of Posobiec‚Äôs followers. (The Soros package and the CNN package were both delivered by hand, and were packaged to appear as if they were sent through the mail.)
Frank Gaffney, the president of the anti-jihad Center for Security Policy, was apparently less concerned with couching his beliefs. ‚ÄúNone of the leftists ostensibly targeted for pipe bombs were actually at serious risk, since security details would be screening their mail,‚ÄĚ he tweeted Wednesday, eliciting a flurry of condemnations online. ‚ÄúSo let‚Äôs determine not only who is responsible for these bombs, but whether they were trying to deflect attention from the Left‚Äôs mobs.‚ÄĚ
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