Canonizing Congressmen

Last week’s tragic shooting in Tucson may have set off a record in the “politician and media nonsense” department.  I can’t recall when I’ve seen a seven day period with so many uninformed, illogical utterances.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik: “When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government,” said Dupnik at a press conference Saturday. “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

National Public Radio stated that there was “absolutely no connection” between the Arizona assassination attempt and vitriolic political speech, but nevertheless spent the next thirty minutes making the case that we need to tone down political rhetoric because it may lead to violence.

Politicians: New York Democratic Representative Carolyn McCarthy, New York Representative Peter King, New Jersey democrat Frank Lautenberg, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg all restated their support for various gun control proposals.

I’ll not dignify any of the above utterances, other than to say that some politicians and media people have stooped terribly low to use the deaths of several people in Tucson as a lever to support their political or news ratings agendas.

There is one theme uttered this week that really bothers me; namely that it is particularly terrible that a US Congressman was targeted.  After all, Congressmen are doing the “people’s business.”  They are “dedicated public servants” and deserve special attention and better security.  Baloney.

Is the life of a Congressman worth more than the life of a cop, or a firefighter, or a soldier?  Two weeks ago three Chicago firefighters were killed when a building collapsed on the south side.  Yesterday morning three more US soldiers were killed in Iraq.  Every year in the United States between 40 and 70 policemen are feloniously killed in the line of duty.  The stories of these firefighters, cops, and soldiers have been quickly forgotten compared to the publicity and “importance” of the Giffords shooting.

Now, all of a sudden, elected officials are telling us that they need more security.  You would think that US Congressmen are threatened by violence and are at death’s door every day.  On Friday my Minnesota Congressman, Tim Walz, bravely scheduled a “Congress on the Corner” event in a Mankato, MN supermarket.  Walz emphasized that “The public’s absolute unfettered access to stand in front of their congressman has to continue on.”  Walz’ courageous show of his manhood was further supported by the fact that there was no law enforcement presence at the event.

I’d love to give Congressman Walz a big “I am Brave” button to wear on his lapel, except for the fact that political assassinations are extremely rare.  The only US Congressman to be killed while in office was Congressman Leo Ryan, who was shot in Jonestown, Guyana just hours before the “Reverend” Jones administered purple Kool-Aid to 909 of his parishioners.  My Congressman, while a veteran, never served in a combat zone.  But I’ve got to give him credit; he’s a rational “career risk” assessor.  Instead of becoming a fireman or a policeman, he decided to be a high school teacher.

Congressmen are elected officials, but they are no more exemplary than most of their fellow Americans.  In fact, I can make the argument that Congressmen mostly do more harm than good.  They support teachers unions and fail to consider voucher systems in education, thereby condemning millions of young Americans to a rotten education.  They have been instrumental in killing millions of American jobs with misguided regulation of business enterprises.  They have spent our country into financial ruin.

I’ve been praying for all of the people who were injured or killed in Tucson, along with their families.   I’m particularly upset about the young girl that died.  Congressman Giffords and her family also have my prayers; she is undoubtedly a very nice lady.  But the fact remains that she’s no better or more special than millions of other nice ladies in the United States of America.  She and her colleagues in Congress deserve our respect, but they are not Saints and must never be spared public criticism or discourse, no matter how negative, emotional, or unkind they deem it to be.

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