Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Political Non Sequiturs and Opportunism

I've already written about the illogical, pathological, and malicious linkage between the Arizona shootings and "political discourse" here and here. A madman's attack that killed six people, injured 14 others, including a U.S. Congresswomen has been used as invented political fodder for the sole use of discrediting of opponents; it's a non-sequitur comprised of wishful fantasy writ large.

As if the reactions of the last week weren't bizarre enough, comes this:
A top House Democrat said the attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) should change how members of Congress are screened at airports.
Ponder that just a moment. What possible connection could there be between a shooter in the parking lot of a shopping center, and how members of Congress are treated in airports? The piece continues:
“I really believe that that is the place where we feel the most ill at ease, is going through airports,” Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who serves as assistant minority leader in the House, said on "Fox News Sunday."

Clyburn called for the Transportation Security Administration, which administers airport security checkpoints, to interact “a little better” with the Capitol Hill Police.

“We’ve had some incidents where TSA authorities think that congresspeople should be treated like everybody else,” he said. “Well, the fact of the matter is, we are held to a higher standard in so many other areas, and I think we need to take a hard look at exactly how the TSA interact with members of Congress.”
Aside from the fat that we all feel "ill at ease" at airports, I'm still failing to see any connection whatsoever. Clearly, he bristles at Congresspeople being "treated like everybody else"; I love it when the truth spews out unexpectedly. The piece concludes:
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot in the head at close range outside a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz., while holding a public event on Saturday. She remains in critical condition in an Tucson hospital. Gabe Zimmerman, a 30-year-old aide to the congresswoman, was one of six people killed in the attack.

Noting that local law enforcement were installed outside his South Carolina home after the attack on Giffords, Clyburn said the House may need to “beef up the funding” for individual members’ budgets so they can coordinate improved security arrangements with local police.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said she was reluctant to attach a cumbersome layer of security to House members.

“I’m concerned about putting up more walls between myself and the people that I represent,” she said on Fox. “I want to make sure that we’re looking at it, that we’re making an appropriate response, that we as members are being smart in our interactions.”

McMorris Rodgers said she wasn’t concerned about her security. “I feel that the Capitol Police do a great job of warning us, of helping us and our staff be smart when we’re out in the district,” she said.
I'm still puzzled as to how Rep. Clyburn makes the connection between an assassination attempt and how members of Congress are treated at airports. Perhaps he doesn't realize that members of our Armed Forces are also treated "like everyone else".

Personally, I would put far more trust in a member of our Armed Forces than a Member of Congress, regardless of the situation.

Perhaps he doesn't realize that he, too, is a citizen, and as such, is subject to the same laws as "everyone else". Methinks Rep. Clyburn's pomposity is on full display.

In fact, the chances of a member of Congress being killed in office are extraordinarily low:
At least 60 Members of Congress have died of something other than natural causes while in office, according to a Congressional Research Service report from 2002.

Of those, most were killed in automobile or plane crashes or committed suicide.

At least 10 were killed:

* Sen. David Colbreth Broderick (D-Calif.) was killed on Sept. 16, 1859, in a duel.

* Sen. Edward Dickinson Baker (R-Ore.) was killed on Oct. 21, 1861, in a Civil war battle.

* Rep. Johnathan Cilley (D-Maine) was killed on Feb. 24, 1838, in a duel.

* Rep. Cornelius Springer Hamilton (R-Ohio) was killed on Dec. 22, 1867, by an insane son.

* Rep. James Hinds (R-Ark.) was assassinated on Oct. 22, 1868.

* Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) was assassinated on June 6, 1968.

* Sen. Huey Long (D-La.) was assassinated and died on Sept. 10, 1935.

* Rep. Spencer Darwin Pettis (D-Mo.) was killed on Aug. 28, 1831, in a duel.

* Rep. John McPherson Pinckney (D-Texas) was assaulted and killed on April 24, 1905.

* Rep. Leo J. Ryan (D-Calif.) died from gunshot wounds received while visiting an American religious commune in Guyana on Nov. 18, 1978.
I can find no statistics on members of Congress who survived assassination attempts, but there seems to have been some 13-14,000 people who have served in either the House of Representatives or the Senate in our history. We've lost five to assassinations; a pretty small number. The loss of any life is tragic, even more so when it's at the hand of a killer. However, we're not exactly amidst a tsunami of assassinations and the worst thing we can do is to overreact and allow the actions of a single madman dictate policy.

That said, Jared Lochner has, compliments of the 24/7 coverage of this massacre, become some sort of macabre celebrity, with his disturbingly grinning face popping up, endlessly, on every computer screen and TV in the country. This sort of saturation coverage often spawns other lunatics who long to see their own creepy faces grinning back at America. For a certain length of time, at least in the short term, I do believe that it would be prudent to provide Representatives, Senators, and Supreme Court Justices with an enhanced level of security. Whether this should be permanent is a good subject of discussion.

No comments: