In January, Gabrielle Giffords suffered a gunshot wound to the head while holding an outdoor town hall meeting for her constituents. Very quickly, the discussion turned to the rhetoric and the environment that may be partially to blame for these kinds of attacks.
Last week a killer on a rampage in Norway made the claim that he was influenced by right wing ideologies, and carried out an attack that left dozens dead.
This week, Gabrielle Giffords made a remarkable return to the House floor to cast her vote on the debt ceiling deal. And there were smiles and tears from her colleagues upon her return. And that’s about how long it lasted.
For example, quotes like the following:
The DEMS stooped to a new LOW bringing in Giffords simply to Vote WHATEVER HER PARTY WANTED; NOT THE PEOPLE! That was a SHAMEFUL display! – @pompanopete
The consensus from these folks is that it was a publicity stunt. That her appearance was designed to nullify the fact that many Dems chose to vote no. Yes, it’s that cynical.
Others say she did a disservice by showing up. Like this:
Yup. That would be a complaint from the left.
Instead of things improving, they’re getting worse. Because at least, until recently, the rhetoric was being kept to the right side of the aisle. But now the left is doing the same thing.
Last week, when Governor Christie of NJ had an asthma attack, I saw posting after posting on Facebook and Twitter, as well as blogs, essentially saying he had it coming to him, that he deserved to die. I was appalled. I don’t care for Christie’s policies, his coziness with corporations and his self-interest in getting as much as he can. But he is a father. He has kids and a wife. Wishing him dead of a heart attack? How is that any different that saying Gabby Giffords injuries were her own fault?
And don’t give me the excuse that they were “just jokes”. That’s a load of crap. Jokes like that aren’t funny. But as soon as one of those jokes gets made against the guy you like, the outrage goes to 11. There’s plenty of hypocrisy to go around.
This week, in reference to the President, Rep. Douglas Lamborn said the following:
“I don’t even want to have to be associated with him. It’s like touching a tar baby, and you get it — you know, you’re stuck, and you’re part of the problem now, and you can’t get away,” Lamborn said. “I don’t want that to happen to us (Republicans), but if it does, or not, he’ll still get — properly so — the blame, because his policies, for four years, will have failed the American people.”
Now, to be fair, the idea of a “tar baby” can refer to a sticky situation. But it’s also a derogatory term for African-Americans. And anyone born in the last 50 years with some semblance of knowledge would know that. And I’m quite certain Lamborn did. He apologized, sort of:
Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05) today sent a personal letter to President Barack Obama apologizing for using a term some find insensitive.
Note the phrasing here. It’s a typical non-apology apology. He says “using a term some find insensitive”. He doesn’t say he finds it insensitive. He says others find it insensitive. It’s not his fault, it’s your for knowing that “tar baby” is derogatory toward African-Americans, among others. Your fault, not his. Which somehow makes it ok. Every time one of these statements is allowed to pass, it makes the next one easier to swallow.
And back on the left side if the aisle is good ol’ Joe Biden. He decided to call Tea Party members who wanted to kill the debt ceiling deals “terrorists”. Joe’s always good for a quote, they say. But the Tea Party folk aren’t “terrorists”. They may be misguided, wrong-headed, and not have a clue how to govern. That does not make them terrorists. Because they aren’t interested in terror. They aren’t out to scare anyone, there were no “hostages” taken. This was not a “war”.
We have allowed the conversation to sink to the lowest common denominator. It’s about “battles”, “fights”, “wars”, “hostages”, putting individuals and districts “in the crosshairs” – the list goes on and on. And then we wonder why nothing gets done. We have made every nuance, every move, every discussion as vile and vicious as we can make it and get away with it. But the really scary part is that it used to be confined to one side of the aisle. Now, it comes from everywhere.
Gabby Giffords’ return to the House floor was triumphant and wonderful. But it’s also a reminder of the rhetoric that is getting worse by the day, rhetoric that quite likely had a hand in making that return more than just another day at the office.