When dealing with the crazy or the bloodthirsty, it is important to be consistent. It would have been wrong to blame Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for the evil man who walked onto a baseball field and started shooting at Republican lawmakers last summer. It would be similarly misguided to blame President Trump for the serial bomber whom we now believe was Cesar Sayoc.
What’s more, Sayoc was violent and made bomb threats long before the current president even got involved in politics. He has been arrested for theft and stolen property, according to the Associated Press, and he was arrested in 2002 on charges of threatening to “throw, place, project or discharge any destructive device."
Sayoc made that bomb threat, it seems, because he was angry at a Florida utility worker. Sane people do not make such threats. Not much is known about the failed bomber, other than a smattering of truly senseless social media posts, and even that is enough to confirm that Sayoc was not a normal person.
None of this is to say that politicians shouldn’t temper their rhetoric. Trump doesn’t need to target the press and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., doesn’t need to whip her followers into a mob. But it's tendentious and probably just wrong to blame public figures for bloodshed unless they knowingly, actively and directly incite violence.