Today's Guardian features an article by Jonathan Freedland in which he explores the language of conflict and warfare that has been used in recent political discourse in the USA. He picks up on Sarah Palin's visual imagery of crosshairs targeting Giffords' congressional seat as well as the combative streak that runs through her rhetoric, including her exhortation for her supporters not to retreat but to "reload": a bit ironic really, given that for all her love of guns, Palin is reputed to be a hopeless shot (as well as an imbecile, obviously).
Freedland makes a number of interesting points about the language of politics, one of which being that politics is saturated with violent metaphors:
...Palin is hardly the first politician to use the language of combat. She could argue that anyone who has ever referred to "battleground" constituencies, talked of candidates "wounded" by "fatal blows" or arguments "shot down" is just as guilty as she is. In this, she could cite the unlikeliest examples. It was the sainted Obama who revved up a crowd in 2008 by declaring of his Republican opponents: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."
Elsewhere, the linguist John McWhorter takes a look at the ways he thinks the internet is partly responsible for glib soundbites, rather than reasoned and nuanced rhetorical debate, taking hold of politics.