The tragic weekend shooting in Tucson opened up an opportunity for public officials to rise above the heated, often violent tone that has come to define current political debates. North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx missed that opportunity.

From TPM comes news that Foxx called alleged shooter Jared Loughner’s beliefs “communist.”

“This guy appears to be a communist,” Foxx told the Winston-Salem Journal. “His beliefs are the liberal of the liberals [sic]. There is no evidence whatsoever that this man was influenced by Sarah Palin or anybody in the Republican Party. This man is not a conservative; he’s a fan of communism — that’s the opposite of conservatism.”

“I don’t think members of Congress incite that kind of rhetoric,” Foxx added. “I don’t think the things we say incite that kind of behavior. And I don’t know that the things other people say incite it. I just think we have deranged individuals in this country and occasionally they do bad things.”

In light of this past weekend’s events, Americans may have less and less patience with Foxx’s stance. (Sarah Palin’s, too.)

Theories about Loughner’s ties to the white nationalist group American Renaissance have since been debunked.

On the other side of the country though, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer seems to have risen to the occasion. Since Saturday, Brewer has offered solemn remarks free from political mudslinging or blame. Who knows how long it will take her to get back to the Brewer of yore, the governor who signed SB 1070 into law and made anti-immigrant rhetoric her trademark. May she keep people waiting a very, very long time.