Thoughts on Tucson
What remains to be seen is the extent of the suspect's mental illness - which seems to be the biggest factor in this incident (not exposure to video games or extremist political rhetoric). Is he more John Hinckley, Jr. (completely delusional) or Timothy McVeigh (angry and motivated by anti-government ideology)? So far, Loughner seems somewhere in between. Where he falls on that spectrum will not only determine his fate, it will tell us whether anything - from reasonable gun control restrictions to a more civilized political climate - could have had an effect on his actions.
I of course agree with all the criticisms of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party's gun-laced, revolution-themed political rhetoric, not to mention Glenn Beck's offensive conspiracy theories of some coming Democrat/Obama-fueled American apocalypse. Those things are disgusting and dangerous. And they may have helped inspire Loughner to continue his quest - who knows. But he apparently set his sights on Rep. Giffords before the Tea Party existed, and before Sarah Palin was known to anyone outside of Alaska.
This sounds for now more tin-foil-hat than Tea-Party driven. If so, it's a shame nobody from family to friends to teachers found a way to get him into the mental health system where he might have found treatment that could help. All of the above seem to have at least recognized it was warranted.