President Barack Obama's closest political adviser, David Axelrod, is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser later today for a Democratic candidate for Congress who linked the Tea Party with the shooting in Tucson that injured former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The Democrat that will be joined by Axelrod is former congressman Bill Foster who is running for a House seat in the Illinois.
Jared Lee Loughner, who killed six people and injured thirteen others (including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords) last year near Tucson, cut a deal yesterday: By agreeing to plead guilty to perpetrating the massacre, federal prosecutors in return spared the 23-year-old from the death penalty.
Democrat Ron Barber defeated Republican Jesse Kelly yesterday in Arizona’s special election for the House seat formerly held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Barber received 52 percent of the vote—to Kelly’s 45 percent—and will serve out the remainder of Giffords’s term, before coming up for reelection in November.
The special election to fill the last six months of Gabrielle Giffords’s term in the Eighth Congressional District of Arizona is rapidly approaching. Although the race looks close, no one can say that the candidates are neck and neck. At 6’8”, Republican Jesse Kelly stands head and shoulders above most people—not just his opponent, former Giffords staffer Ron Barber.
It was a weekend of great sorrow. On Saturday, January 8, an insane young man tried to kill Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, injuring her horribly. The man then fired his gun into a small political gathering, murdering a nine-year-old girl, a federal judge, a congressional staffer, and three of Giffords’s constituents. Thirteen other people were wounded. In the midst of life we are in death. There is, in this world, no making sense of such events.
Americans don't really need another reason not to link the senseless actions of a deranged individual in Tucson to the tenor of American political discourse, but it is worth considering how accusations that the lunatic shooter in Tucson was influenced by our political rhetoric feed directly into the narrative about democracy—American and otherwise—promoted by authoritarian countries such as China, whose president Hu Jintao is visiting Washington next week.
President Obama’s speech in Tucson was fine, as far as it went. The protocol in such circumstances seems to require presidents to call for healing, unity, civility, fellowship, and a determination to move forward, as well as a shout-out to heroes and victims. The president appears to have done all this, and with generally satisfactory results; I leave it to others to debate whether he failed or succeeded.
Perhaps the most powerful moment of President Obama’s moving address yesterday came when he announced that Representative Gabrielle Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time during a visit from some of her colleagues in Congress.
To the families of those we’ve lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants gathered tonight, and the people of Tucson and Arizona: I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow.
Jennifer Rubin wonders whether the planned memorial service tonight in Tucson is appropriate. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, "The service is set for 8 p.m. Eastern time at the University of Arizona's basketball arena, the school said. It will include a Native American blessing, a moment of silence, a poetry reading and the presentation of a chain featuring messages from members of the public, the school announced."