There's a cottage industry in trying to pin down the politics of Gabrielle Giffords' would-be assassin (thankfully, it looks like she will survive). Jim Lindgren, claiming that he merely wants to "take the political argument off the table", argues that the best way to do so is to point out "that Loughner was more probably a mentally deranged left winger than a mentally deranged right winger." In support of this, Lindgren cites, for example, Loughner's apparent opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
But I think obsessing over whether Loughner was "really" extremely right-wing or left-wing is worse than just partisan, it's impossible. Why? Because whether they identify as "left" or "right", extremists of this stripe tend to say more or less the same things. Professor Lindgren's observation that rabid anti-war views are an indicator of being "left-wing" is simply flawed. Certainly, it's probably true that there are more mainstream liberals who are anti-war than mainstream conservatives. But once you reach the margins, you see plenty of extreme anti-war rhetoric emanating from the old-school, paleo-con right. If someone yells out that the Iraq War is an imperialist project of our Zionist Occupied Government, I have no earthly way of telling if that's the product of someone who identifies as "far-right" or "far-left". Frankly speaking, once you reach the fringes that folks like Loughner inhabit, it's more or less impossible to tell the difference between the far-right and far-left. The extreme ends of the political spectrum, far from being polar opposites, tend to wrap back around the edges of reality and link up again.
Moreover, extremists left and right don't seem to view each other as enemies, but as fellow sojourners. Cynthia McKinney has been very happy to associate with members of the far-right fascist fringe. The Palestine Telegraph, which I suspect identifies itself as "left", has prominently featured David Duke on its front page. Pushing (slightly) closer to the center, Code Pink attempted to make common cause with the Tea Party. This isn't exactly a rare phenomenom. Hell, there's a long history of at least a grudging respect and accommodation between White supremacists and Black nationalist organizations.
So the question isn't really whether Loughner is "left" or "right" -- a question to which I'm dubious has a coherent answer. There are certain hallmarks of extremist movements -- belief in imminent totalitarianism, wild conspiracy-mongering, racism and/or anti-Semitism, calls for violence against public officials, mistrust of basic governmental institutions (like the currency system), to name a few. And it's a bad thing when politicians of any stripe to tap into that id. The self-identification of either the politician who plays in that mud, or the extremists who listen to it, is besides the point. The fact of the matter is, since "we’re not teetering on the brink of totalitarianism, officials in positions of responsibility probably shouldn’t run around the country saying we’re teetering on the brink of totalitarianism."