Even as acrid gunsmoke hung in the winter Arizona air, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dopenik's bulldog countenance was thrust onto TV screens across America as he inveighed upon what he termed the “vitriolic climate” of America’s political scene.
He cited Arizona as the mecca of America’s acrimonious political warfare. He was, of course, referring largely to the recent passage of the anti-illegal alien law in Arizona. He was so absorbed in his self-appointed role of moral pontificator that he had no apparent interest in the role he was being paid to perform. He was out to lambast the passions of a segment of the Tucson community who oppose the invasion of Arizona lands by illegal aliens.
As if on cue the lights went on like a Christmas tree across media land. Chris Matthews excoriated talk show host Michael Savage as a raving commentator that begins his show in anger and ends it on the same tone. It would seem that Mr. Matthews is ultra-sensitive to vocalizations as when he experienced the “tingle” up his leg when Obama spoke in one of his campaign speeches. Other media attacks were focused on Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh as the hacks ramped up the very rhetoric they were decrying. One blogger even described Laura Ingraham as the “high priestess of hate.” The common thread among these disparate commentaries was the blame being placed on the Tea Party movement, Sarah Palin and AM radio personalities for the Tucson shootings. The actuality of the event couldn’t be further from the truth.
Subsequent developments reveal that the shooter was a troubled young man. His classroom behavior had classmates on edge with his responses to study material being entirely irrelevant, instead focused on governmental mind control. It turned even more bizarre when he was spurned by a young woman that he had previously had a relationship with.
His parents are seemingly being shielded by the authorities who have divulged next to nothing about them or his home environment, which is altogether rare. It has been reported by Fox News that his home is nestled in a neighborhood of “crack houses.” What few political proclivities he had were apparently far afield from the values of the Tea Party movement and its adherents, as evidenced by his self-proclaimed list of favored books such as (for instance) “Mein Kampf” and “Das Kapital.” What may well have put Jared Loughner “over the edge” was his use of the powerful hallucinogens Salvia, LSD and or psilocybin. Taken singularly the bookmarks in his life were almost certainly not the cause of his bloody rampage, but taken together they could likely be seen as inevitable. This is where law enforcement and mental health officials dropped the ball. The assassin is listed in police reports as having issued a number of death threats to private and public officials over a period of time.
As tragic and sorrowful as this carnage in Tucson was, I see an insidious and shameful dimension to it. That is the “marketing” of this potent mix of elements into what is, in effect, the kickoff to the 2012 Obama campaign for re-election.
From the boarding of Air Force One to the standing ovations to a speaking president by a less-than-decorous audience, this gathering displayed the earmarks of a damped-down campaign rally. Standing ovations at a memorial service are out of place. Other than the unsuccessful assassination attempt on a U.S. congresswoman,what made this shooting an event to be memorialized by the White house?
At this point the infamous quote of Attorney General Eric Holder should be recalled: “Don’t let a good crisis go to waste!” Any viewer of Channel 2 news (San Francisco) can see this horrible carnage, including the shooting of children, repeated on a daily basis in the cities of Oakland, San Francisco, Richmond and SanJose. Where are the White House memorial services in these communities? Don’t these fallen citizens deserve at least a tip of the hat by a grandstanding president?
But was the unofficial campaigning over with the syrupy slurry delivered by the silver tongued one at an artfully arranged memorial for six out of scores of slain citizens across the American landscape? Hardly. In ensuing weeks we have the masters of verbal political acrimony engaging in a campaign of finger-pointing and tongue-wagging at their Republican and Tea Party opponents calling for a return to civility.
What return? Since when has politics been conducted civilly? The two are about as compatible as boxing gloves on a barber. What Chucky Shoomer and crowd are postulating amounts to exquisite table manners at a homeless encampment.
Dale L. Bohling is a Crescent City resident.