(An earlier version of this column incorrectly stated that George W. Bush would have won the 2000 election under any recount scenario.)
Ignore the talk of a partisan cooling-off period following the shooting in Arizona.
Political division has become too big a business and too clear a pathway to power for any truce to last.
To use a Sarah Palin analogy, liberals and conservatives already have begun to reload.
It's not surprising Palin once again is a lightning rod.
Her critics foolishly tried to link her use of gun analogies and gun imagery to this tragedy. Her language and use of gun sights to target congressional districts were unfortunate but certainly not the reason why a madman did what he did. Ultimately, the charge that it did only will increase Palin's cachet among followers.
It only will increase the divide.
And sadly enough, division works.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Palin made the idiotic claim that Obama "palled around with terrorists.'' A strategist for John McCain told the New York Daily News, "It's a dangerous road, but we have no choice. If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose."
When all else fails, go with division.
And now the premium on winning is such that this type of rhetoric and vitriol has become a 24/7 phenomenon, particularly with round-the-clock political coverage.
Just like the video game Grand Theft Auto desensitizes children to violence, I fear this desensitizes a lot of viewers to tolerance.
Differences of opinion no longer are just that.
They must be the result of evil intent, or moral failure or dark forces.
Liberals can't accept that George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000. And so he stole the election with brother Jeb's help, even though an extensive analysis by major media outlets indicate he would have won under several Florida recount scenarios.
The Iraq war he started wasn't a tragic miscalculation, an intelligence failure, or just the mother of all screw-ups.
It had to be that Bush deliberately lied.
Attacks against Obama have been even more shrill. He can't be just another Democratic president pursuing the same liberal agenda pursued by so many Democrats before him.
He has to be the most radical president in history, a dangerous socialist, perhaps even a Muslim, maybe even a foreign-born pawn of George Soros sent here to turn the U.S. into either France or an Islamic state.
As for the Tea Party, liberals can't concede it is a populist backlash against Obama's agenda. It has to be a racist backlash against Obama's skin color.
On and on it goes. People on both ends of the political extreme only see and believe that which reinforces their view of the world.
Exploiting this has become big business for news outlets like Fox and MSNBC.
If such a thing is possible, Keith Olbermann's rants are even more obnoxious.
There are thousands of voices on the web and on the radio shouting to be heard above the din, yearning to be the next Beck and the next Olbermann, spouting whatever it takes to get there.
And there are villains aplenty to go after. Illegal immigrants. Homosexuals. Environmentalists. Fascists. Gun nuts. The oil companies. Each is out to conquer us, destroy us, control us or rob us. Each must be stopped.
Watching the conflagration, politicians who know better keep silent.
So lacking in our partisan divide is the kind of policy discussion required to deal with our problems.
This headline was atop the Fox News website Monday afternoon: "Left rushes to spin act of a madman into BLAME GAIN.''
And this was the lead blog featured on The Huffington Post: "Gun violence and the lessons of Tucson: Will the chambers once again be loaded against the American people?''
Sadly, Gabrielle Giffords will wake up to find a world no different from the one she almost left.
Mike Thomas can be reached at 407-420-5525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.