THE WRONG LANE…. Over the last week or so, we’ve seen efforts to equate the labor dispute in Wisconsin to the political revolution in Egypt, some of which strikes me as misplaced. But the Washington Post‘s Charles Lane, in a deeply disappointing piece, instead draws a connection between developments in Madison and last month’s tragic shootings in Tucson. (via DougJ)

It has been just over five weeks since a deranged gunman in a Tucson suburb left six people dead and 13 injured, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). In the wake of that horrific tragedy, Americans reflected on — and argued about — the possible connection between the violence and today’s often nasty, polarized political discourse.

President Obama, in a moving eulogy for the fallen, called on all Americans to “pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

Yet today in Wisconsin, anger and vilification are once again the order of the day — and the incivility emanates from the progressive end of the spectrum….

Perhaps most disappointing of all is that the president himself, rather than living up to the words he spoke so eloquently in Tuscon [sic], has chosen to fuel the fury on the Great Lakes. He labeled Walker’s legislation “an assault on unions,” while the White House political operation bused in more demonstrators to join those waving Walker = Hitler placards. These are the words and deeds of a partisan politician, not a national leader.

If the brave Gabrielle Giffords could speak normally, what would she say about these events? I hope she would agree with me: This is a sad moment for liberalism, for the Democratic Party, and, really, for the whole country.

Keep in mind, Charles Lane isn’t some Fox News personality. I’ve seen him publish a variety of worthwhile commentaries in recent years.

But reading this, I can’t imagine what he was thinking.

Lane seems to believe unions trying to protect their collective bargaining rights — unnecessarily targeted by a conservative governor on some kind of crusade — are in the wrong. Lane doesn’t explain why, exactly, and on the substance, I obviously think he’s mistaken.

But it’s Lane’s thoughts on “civility” that are just inexplicable.

To be sure, those carrying placards with swastikas are deeply misguided, and anyone equating Scott Walker with Hitler is ridiculous. Though these appear to be a tiny handful of folks in a much larger protest, Lane is on firm ground calling them out.

But his criticism of the White House is just bizarre. President Obama believes Walker’s union-busting efforts are “an assault on unions.” He said this because, in reality, Walker’s union-busting efforts are “an assault on unions.” It’s not uncivil, it’s not inaccurate, and to condemn the president for trying to “fuel the fury” is silly. Obama was asked by a Wisconsin reporter for his opinion, and he offered a fair, mild-mannered assessment. Why Lane found it outrageous is a mystery.

What’s more, Lane appears shocked that the Democratic Party would side with their own allies, against Republican overreach stripping school teachers and other public employees of their collective bargaining rights, as if the Post writer temporarily forgot that the Democratic Party has always been a champion of labor rights. Worse, he somehow connects the party to offensive placards, which Dems had nothing to do with, based on nothing.

And then Lane concludes by somehow connecting Gabrielle Giffords to his position, again based on nothing.

I’m genuinely amazed Charles Lane published this. It’s my sincere hope that he’ll give this some additional thought, and realize that this was an offensive mistake, worthy of an apology.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.